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Interview - Dayton United: Benefit for the Dayton Foundation

If you’ve watched the news anytime in the past - well, too long of a timespan, if we’re being honest - you’ve seen news of natural disasters, uncommon weather phenomenon, economic hardships and, to the detriment of everyone, mass shootings. As of July 31, 2019, there have been 248 mass shootings in the US. That’s roughly 1.2 mass shootings per day. As of August 18, there have been 18 more.  

In May of this year, Dayton, Ohio was struck by a EF3 tornado, which leveled houses, neighborhoods, and businesses. Thankfully, there were no casualties, but the property damage alone, as well as a lengthy power outage and more, has done lasting damage to Ohio’s Gem City. Then, on August 4, another tragedy. But one that has become all too common. A gunman opened fire in the bustling Oregon District, shooting 26 people in just over 30 seconds. 10 people, including the gunman, were killed. This, just mere hours after the deadly shooting in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people lost their lives and dozens more were injured. Even with the anger, the sadness, and the outrage of the shocking regularity of these attacks, the grieving, the sorrow, and the wholly unnecessary loss - it’s important to look for, and forward to, something hopeful, something positive and, just maybe, something cathartic.

On August 28, Dayton United: Benefit for the Dayton Foundation hopes to provide some of that much needed positivity, hope, and catharsis. Featuring solo performances by Anthony Raneri of Bayside, Geoff Rickley of Thursday, Chris Conley of Saves the Day, Vinnie Caruana of The Movielife and I Am the Avalanche, with local support from Joe Anderl of The 1984 Draft, the show itself is something near and dear to those who put it all together.

Ricky Terrell, of Dayton’s Starving In The Belly of the Whale, along with co-promoter Justin Kreitzer of Sweet Cheetah Publicity, are bringing this incredible lineup together. Dayton musician, Joe Anderl, vocalist for The 1984 Draft, will start out the night. 

I had the pleasure of speaking with Ricky and Joe about everything that brought this group of musicians together, what this show means to the people of Dayton, and about where we all go from here. Dayton United: Benefit for The Dayton Foundation is happening on Wednesday, August 28, at Dayton Masonic Live. Plan accordingly.

My sincere thanks to Ricky and Joe for taking the time to answer my questions. This interview has been edited for clarity. 

Can you talk about what you’ve been doing in the Dayton scene and how you got to be involved in the Dayton United benefit show?

Ricky Terrell: I have been involved in the Dayton music scene for about 11 years. I am the vocalist/guitarist and singer-songwriter for the band Starving in the Belly of the Whale and I play drums with Charlie Jackson and the Heartland Railway. After this recent tragedy, I knew we needed to do something to help lift the city's spirits. I started planning this event before I was introduced to Dayton United. It was an easy partnership. We are all working towards the same goal.

Joe, can you talk a little about how you got involved with this show, and what it’s like to represent Dayton - as part of your band, The 1984 Draft - on a show with musicians like Geoff Rickley and Vinnie Caruana?  

Joe Anderl: Shortly after the shooting, Ricky Terrell of Starving in the Belly of the Whale got a hold of me. He asked if I had any availability to do some sort of benefit for the victims. I immediately said yes and told him I would do anything I could to help. After I said yes, Ricky told me about the other musicians he was asking so it came as a pleasant surprise to find out who I would be playing with.

As a musician, it is incredible to be able to share a stage with musicians I have looked up to for a long time. Both Thursday and Saves the Day put out records that were very influential in my life so this is bucket list material for me personally. I’ve also been a fan of both Vinnie and Anthony for a while as well. The fact that all four of them would come to town to do this is incredible.

As a Daytonian, I wish I didn’t have to play this show. I wish this wasn’t the reason we have so many talented national musicians coming to town. I’ve spent the last 25 years playing every club in this town. I’ve been up and down Fifth street more times than I can count. What happened hurts on an extremely deep level. I grieve for the victims and their families. I am thankful that more of my friends were not hurt. I stand with my friends who are struggling now trying to overcome the feelings and emotions that this tragedy has brought forth.

For me, being asked to play, is extremely humbling. As the only Daytonian on the bill, I definitely know my role. I am here to make Dayton proud, spread some love and hope, and to show the audience that when it comes to Dayton, no matter what is thrown at us, we will come at it with love, hard work, and most importantly together.

How did the benefit show itself come together? Where did the idea to bring together these particular musicians come from?

RT: I have been playing in different bands for almost 19 years. Over that journey I have had the opportunity to meet many of my favorite musicians. When I started planning this event, I wanted to give back to the city of Dayton. Our city always has great benefit shows, but they usually include the same bands and draw the same people. I wanted to curate something different. Bringing together national acts helps bring different groups of people together.

The Dayton music community is tight knit and supportive - what has the response been like with other local musicians in the wake of the tragedy that happened earlier this month?

RT: I am so excited to have Joe Anderl on the event. He was my first thought for local support. Joe is not only a great musician, but an individual who gets along with everyone! Everyone loves Joe. He will help start the evening with a positive tone.

JA: Dayton does what it does. We grieve, we love, and then we strap on our boots and ask how can we help. The bands in this town are always supportive of the needs of this community.

As soon as everything happened you almost immediately saw the wheels move in motion. You have Dayton bands like Me and Mountains donating all their record sales to charity. You have the bands like Unchipped and Maharaja that were playing Bob’s (Blind Bob’s) the night of the shooting donating all the money from that evening. Salvadore Ross and The Bashaaw’s both released songs in tribute. You see other benefit shows popping up left and right. Bands are donating their money from other shows during the coming weeks as well.   

On top of that, I took my family down to the Oregon District last weekend for brunch and some shopping. As I walked up and down the street, I saw countless musicians from this town out with their friends and families, eating, drinking, shopping, working. It’s like we are all trying to take back a piece of our street.

As the past couple of weeks have progressed, what have you seen in the community that gives you hope? What’s surprised you the most (in a good way)? 

RT: I can't really say I have been surprised. Over human existence we can see a constant progression of tragedy and despair. We have also seen a constant progression of help, service and love. I would expect nothing less from Dayton than all of the help, service and love that has been shared. We live in a great city that is always fighting against the odds to emerge stronger and more beautiful than ever.

JA:Nothing has really surprised me. We live in a town that has survived the loss of major manufacturing and business, the deaths of members of our community, the heroin epidemic, 15 tornadoes, and now this. What gives me the most hope is seeing Dayton do what it does. Dayton loves hard.

I see it in the hugs as you walk up and down fifth street. I see it in the texts from friends from in and out of town. I see it from the business owners and employees of the Oregon District who still go to work everyday trying to better our community. I see it in the tenderness that Daytonians are showing to each other. In their help, in their encouragement, in their willingness to stand up and talk about what needs to change, and most importantly in the way they love each other.  

After the benefit show, is there anything else in the works to continue the benefit work you’ve started?

RT: That has been the great thing about partnering with Dayton United. The city had so many little pockets of people trying to help. Dayton United brought all of those great ideas together. Living in a world where your social media bubble becomes your basis on reality, it seems much easier to hate our differences than love our commonalities. It will be increasingly important over the next year that we remember the reasons why we love each other. 

For those from outside of Dayton who might not be able to make it to the show but still want to help, what’s the best way for them to do so? 

JA:Donations can be made directly to the Dayton Foundation. This is a great place to give because the Dayton Foundation is not only helping those affected by the tragedy of the shooting but also those who are still recovering from the devastation of the Memorial Day Tornadoes. They continually do great work across the community making sure that those in need get what they need. You can give online at https://www.daytonfoundation.org/ccgift.html

Again, my sincere thanks to Ricky and Joe for taking the time to answer my questions and speak about what’s happened, and what’s happening, with our neighbors to the north. Tickets are still available for Dayton United: Benefit for The Dayton Foundation.