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Legendary Dayton indie rock band Guided by Voices will headline this year’s Springsfest. Front, from left: Bobby Bare, Jr. Rear: Kevin March, Robert Pollard, Doug Gillard and Mark Shue. (Submitted photo)

Legendary Dayton indie rock band Guided by Voices will headline this year’s Springsfest. Front, from left: Bobby Bare, Jr. Rear: Kevin March, Robert Pollard, Doug Gillard and Mark Shue. (Submitted photo)

Yellow Springs’ own Woodstock returns

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By Tracy Perkins-Schmittler

For the third year, Yellow Springs is going to celebrate its own version of Woodstock or Lollapalooza with Springsfest, a 12-hour music festival.

Springsfest is Saturday, July 7, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the lawn of the John Bryan Center, 100 Dayton Street.

The featured bands, whether nationally or  locally known, are all tied to either Yellow Springs, the Miami Valley and or Ohio. Their genres range from folk, experimental, punk, to indie rock.

According to festival organizer Conor Stratton, it will be the festival’s biggest year yet. Springsfest is the dream child of Stratton, who grew up in Yellow Springs, and has always wanted to make the village more of a music hub. 

“Springsfest is a festival I’ve developed over the last few years as a labor of love for the community of Yellow Springs,” Stratton said. “It’s a way of providing something new and exciting to our village and representing the unique love of the arts that we have.”

This year’s music lineup features Guided By Voices, an indie and lo-fi rock band formed in 1983 in Dayton; Twin Peaks, a power-pop and garage punk band formed in 2010 and based in Chicago; Caamp, a guitar and banjo indie-folk duo from Upper Arlington, Ohio; Counterfeit Madison, originally from Nigeria, a funky, classical, rock solo artist who moved from Cincinnati and is now based in Columbus; Speaking Suns, our own native sons of indie dream pop and art rock; Teen Age, Adam Remnant, The Cordial Sins, Lori, Gaptooth Grin, and Scary Balance.

Rory Papania, a local multi-instrumentalist who also grew up in the Springs, is in three of the bands playing at the event—Speaking Suns, Teen Age, and Gaptooth Grin, the latter of which he is the lead singer. Papania has played music with Stratton in several different bands over the years, and was involved with the Dayton Music Festival in 2015, the year he recorded a solo album in which he played all the instruments. 

“Last year was a ton of fun,” Papania said of Springsfest 2017. “It’s great to see something like this in your own town, and a small town at that, and to see the performers just walking around. This festival fills a void.”

The seed for Springsfest started with Stratton getting involved with the Dayton Art and Film Festival, which made him dream of doing something similar in the Springs. Stratton had founded Great Guys Entertainment five years ago as a small indie record label in which he cut his teeth in the music business planning shows and promoting festivals and events with his assistant manager, Wes Gilbert. Stratton studied Music Business at Hocking College where he learned all the tricks of this trade.

So two years ago, Stratton drew up a proposal for Yellow Springs Brewery, his employer, who was the initial and exclusive sponsor of the first Springsfest in 2016. Now it has all kinds of sponsors, including two other brewing companies—Warped Wing in Dayton and Mad Tree in Cincinnati. All three brewing companies will be on tap at the festival.

Saruh Morrison is the art and market coordinator for Springsfest, which is featuring 12 artists and vendors who are mainly from Ohio. She has been a good friend of Stratton’s for 12 years now, and like he and Papania, also grew up in the village, which she moved back to three years ago. Morrison helped out as the hospitality hostess at the first festival. Through the years of each festival, Stratton took note of her enthusiasm for promoting local independent visual artists, so he made her the curator of the art market, which is a brand new feature of Springsfest this year.

“There had been a lot of inquiry about vendors and adding more immersive and interactive aspects to the fest other than food and beer, so it only made sense to add in craft vendors,” said Morrison.

A diverse selection of artists will be featured at the festival as well, including Jessica Dubis from Dayton, a maker of hammered and semi-precious stone-accented jewelry; village local Lukas Zaff, a maker of hand-embroidered patches, hand-sewn fanny packs, hats, and artwork prints; and village coffee master Patrick “Brother Bear” Harney with his locally roasted beans who will also be doing deep tissue massage.

It seems perfectly fitting for such a bohemian, artisan, and cultured village like Yellow Springs with its own history of locals who have become either famous or semi-famous in the music industry to have a music and arts festival, typified with its unique brand of “Springishness,” according to Stratton. 

Wicked ’Wich of Dayton, Harvest Mobile Cuisine, and Krack Ups will be the food vendors for the event. Tickets are $60 and are available at Early Bird Passes are on sale now for $45 until sold out, and there will be discounted passes for locals who just need to show their ID at the gate or at Toxic Beauty Records.

*The author is a local writer and musician.

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