The Champaign County Arts Council’s annual free outdoor “Sounds of Summer” concerts start Saturday, June 22, with local musician Daniel Dye. The 7-9 p.m. concert will be held at Freshwater Farms, located on U.S. Route 68, just north of Urbana.
Five other outdoor concerts featuring local musicians will follow throughout the summer and throughout the county. Food will be available to purchase at each concert, and concerts will be held rain or shine.
Daniel Dye, raised in Champaign County, spent a good part of the last decade writing songs as he backpacked his way around the world, living in China, Germany and Poland. After returning to the United States, he began jamming with the musical Miller siblings (who also just happen to be his nephews and niece), bringing their sensibilities as young musicians to his own tunes. Over time, sing-a-longs at family get-togethers and weekly gigs at Mechanicsburg’s farm market began growing into something far more serious. The Millers, classically trained in the cello, viola and violin, added a more sophisticated sound to Dye’s guitar and harmonica. The banjo, mandolin, accordion and cajon were soon mixed in and the Miller Road Band was officially formed.
Dye’s songs have been influenced by folk, bluegrass, rock, blues, jazz, classical, country and gospel and his tunes combine these genres.
The band’s first album, “Daniel Dye featuring the Miller Road Band,” gained momentum in central/southwest Ohio with radio airplay on NPR affiliates 91.3 WYSO (Yellow Springs) and 90.5 WCBE (Columbus). The MRB is featured on about half of the 14-song album, while the other half is Dye alone with the banjo or guitar, as he also tours as a solo artist.
The annual Madden Road Music Festival is held in Mutual, this year on Aug. 17.
After recent travels abroad, he still finds that songs about home are easier to write when you’re far away and songs about being far away are easier to write when you’re home.
The Katawicks will provide entertainment for the 7-9 p.m. June 29 concert at Freshwater Farms, which is selling food at the first two concerts. Musician Jake Gabbard will open for The Katawicks.
Allison Justice and Matt Washburn formed The Katawicks in Springfield in 2011. Matt and Allison are both graduates of Shawnee High School. Once Allison graduated from high school and Matt graduated from college the two moved to Nashville, Tennessee. The Katawicks spent their first year in Nashville. The band decided to take a break before re-forming in 2018. After re-forming, The Katawicks released their first single, “Sink Away,” in July of 2018 followed by their second single, “It’s Funny, You Know.”
On July 4 at Grimes Field, Mack McKenzie will entertain from 7 to 9 p.m. The concert will be part of a full day of activities that include the Urbana Rotary Club’s annual chicken barbecue dinner and the club-sponsored fireworks at dusk.
Originally based in Dayton, Mack McKenzie now calls Cleveland his home and base of operations for his brand of country music. He writes from the real life experience of the working class, and Alternative-Country and Roots Rock are the cornerstone of his music. A 101st Airborne combat veteran, Mack has seen the world, both good and bad, and it shines through in his music. One full-length album, A Million Miles, and a follow on EP, Consciousness, have laid the foundation of his catalogue, with a second full-length album on its way.
The next concert heads over to Goshen Park in Mechanicsburg with the sounds of Dustin Danger from 6 to 8 p.m. July 14.
The full-time professional musician and music instructor hosts and performs 3-4 shows each week and teaches 25-30 students in his home studio each week. He released 33 songs worldwide in 2018.
He’s performed from bars and clubs to house parties, from military bases and laundromats to mini-golf courses, from local radio stations, television programs and festivals to the CBGB in New York City. With sounds ranging from fast silly punk to soft acoustic ballads, with elements of early rock’n’roll, folk, country, blues, & hip hop, he writes songs and plays multiple instruments. He is a member of the Recording Academy (GRAMMYs), the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), and the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL)
Then it’s cross-county to Harmon Park in St. Paris to hear Noah Back from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 18. Local Girl Scouts will offer food to purchase.
Back is a young entertainer from West Alexandria. He started performing in public at the age of 12, so he has been delighting audiences for half his life. His major musical influences were John Denver, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and the Bee Gees. When asked what kind of music he likes to play, he always says, “My favorite music to play is whatever you want to hear.” His repertoire is made of songs from the ‘20s to the present and includes ballads, folk music, a little country and inspirational music.
Back began his career in Yellow Springs, which remains one of his favorite places to play. He sang in Greenville over 30 times last summer. In addition to performing at restaurants, festivals, fairs, coffee houses, concert venues and churches, he does many private events. These include weddings, funerals and graduation, birthday and holiday parties. He has performed in Chicago, Nashville and Pittsburgh, and in May he was invited to play at City Market in Charleston, South Carolina for the third year in a row.
Allison Road Acoustic
The final concert will be 6-8 p.m. Aug. 25, also in Harmon Park, where Allison Road Acoustic will provide the music and local Boy Scouts will sell food.
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In the event of rain, the St. Paris venue will shift to the St. Paris United Methodist Church. The other concerts will be held at the scheduled sites.
Local concert sponsors are JWP, Peoples Savings Bank, The Medicine Shoppe, The Grimes Foundation, Fonda Lou Eaton, Brett Gilbert and Darby Dental Smiles.
The series also is made possible by a grant from The Ohio Arts Council.