Dayton Music Fest, a multi-act showcase, returns this weekend



Yellow Cab Tavern and Blind Bob’s hosts 18th annual event.

Since its inception nearly two decades ago, Dayton Music Fest has been a major showcase of area musical talent. After two years of COVID-19-imposed cancellations, the local multi-act, multi-venue event returns to Yellow Cab Tavern and Blind Bob’s on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21 and 22 in downtown Dayton.

This year’s 18th iteration includes reunions by Haunting Souls and the Mulchmen and performances by the Raging Nathans, Paige Beller, K. Carter, Amber Hargett and others.

“The sky’s the limit for the festival but I bit off a lot in 2019,” said festival curator Nathan Peters. “I decided to scale it back this year. The first year I did it, it was just Blind Bob’s and Yellow Cab and I felt like taking it back to that this year. We’ll start here and build it back up.”

A local tradition

Poptek Records founder Andy Ingram, who was there at the inception of Dayton Music Fest, is performing at the festival with his group, XL427.

“I am glad and a bit amazed that Dayton Music Fest is still going on,” Ingram said. “It started as a simple idea between Dan Clayton and Shawn Johnson that they invited me into. We saw a need and decided to do something but none of us knew it would become an annual tradition lasting over 17 years now. I think it’s still important. We have so much more musical talent and musical legacy in Dayton than a town of our size should have. That is something to celebrate and hopefully will continue to be part of our local culture.”



This year, for the first time, Dayton Music Fest has partnered with WYSO-FM (91.3) in Yellow Springs.

“It’s going to be a fundraiser for YSO, which is inherently a great tradeoff,” Peters said. “We help raise funds for them. They help with promotion. It benefits something I strongly believe in at no huge cost. The benefits certainly outweigh anything else.”

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Reunion acts

One big feature during Peters’ tenure with DMF has been reunions by beloved acts from Dayton’s past. Nick Kizirnis’ instrumental surf band, the Mulchmen, is back by popular demand after a DMF reunion in 2019. Another massive get is the first show from the original lineup of Haunting Souls since 1989.

“I feel like you have to have some of that legacy stuff there for it to really blossom and get people really excited,” Peters said. “People were immediately thrilled when I announced it online.”

Haunting Souls was one of the most popular local punk outfits of its time and continued on until 1996. Founder and leader Jamy Holliday went on to perform with groups like the Mystery Addicts and Luxury Pushers.

“Dayton Music Festival is a perfect event for us because Dayton has always, proudly, and without excuse, been home,” Holliday said. “We were fortunate enough to be influenced by some absolutely fantastic bands, clubs and supporters and in a real forward-thinking and tribe-expanding era, the early-to-mid 1980s. It sounds a little hokey to some these days, but we really were front row to some momentous times in America in music, cultural shifts and politics, all of which informed what we were doing, thinking and writing about.”

The original Haunting Souls lineup was only together from 1986 to 1989 but included Joe Presutti, Chris Sexson and Nate Farley, who each left his own mark on Dayton’s music scene with other groups.

“This was the first, our gang, the first real go of a band for all of us,” Holliday said. “This is the one that gave birth to our teenage angst, our idealism, goals and inaugural excitement to play. We wrote together, dreamed together, all the stuff you do in your first real band.”



More musical acts

The festival begins each night with songwriters-in-the-round sets from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Yellow Cab. Participants include Sharon Lane, Harold Hensley, Mike Bankhead, the Nautical Theme and Ward Son. These early stripped-down performances should get attendees primed for C. Wright’s Parlour Tricks, Heather Redman & the Reputation, Viceroy Kings, the 1984 Draft, Age Nowhere and other area acts to crank up the volume.

“DMF is a great way to sample some of Dayton’s local talent and gather with other live music nerds,” said Paige Beller. “I feel like people really come out of the woodwork for it. Since moving to Cincinnati, I haven’t gotten a chance to see a lot of my friends play in a long time. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they’ve all come up with.”

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Musical diversity has been another part of Peters’ mission since he took over the festival in 2017.

“I’m excited to have Paige Beller,” Peters said. “She’s been crushing it for years and she’s really making a go at a career. I always try to mix it up, but I really tried to get more hip-hop. Mike Cooley, who is spinning records at Bob’s during the festival, hooked me up with Flamborghini, who is really good. K. Carter also made a lot of sense. I also like to have some out-of-town bands that people have never seen. This year, we’ve got Brother O Brother and Gran Gran, who opened a secret Breeders show at Yellow Cab a few years ago. Every time we’ve done that, people have liked it. The festival changes a little bit every year and that keeps things exciting for everyone.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at


What: Dayton Music Fest with Haunting Souls, the Mulchmen, the Raging Nathans, Paige Beller, K. Carter and others

Where: Yellow Cab Tavern, 700 E. Fourth St., and Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St., Dayton

When: 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21 and 22

Cost: Weekend passes are $20 in advance, $25 at the doors; or $15 per night at the doors

For more info or a complete schedule of events:

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