A Certain Dayton Weirdness

An introduction to me, Kelly Dillahunt, new writer for Sound Valley

I was on the way back from a Jenny Lewis show in Nashville when Zack Sliver contacted me about writing for Sound Valley. I’m not going to lie; I was really hesitant at first. I didn’t think I had the authority to write about music. I'm not a musician and I haven't done any reporting in years. But as we discussed it further, I began to recount my past to him, as art director, DJ, merch girl, creative writing dropout, amateur journalist, editor, and avid listener, and the idea became less ridiculous.

As soon as I could talk, my biggest big brother taught me the names of the Beatles. I listened to Queen and Led Zeppelin with Dad, Patsy Cline and Sam Cooke with Mom, the Dead with my brothers, Tom Petty with everybody. And later it was my turn, to hand down Green Day, MCR, the Killers, Alkaline Trio, and The Story Changes to my kid sister.

I would be remiss to discuss my life in the context of music without mentioning my ex husband, and the ten years we spent going to shows, big and small, tracking down every record store within three hours of Dayton, and the unquantifiable amount of music he shared with me. I'm really grateful for that.

But I lost the music for a while, struggled with depression and anxiety, closed in, lost myself. So I moved here, to Dayton, to take charge of my life, to take risks, to grow roots, or maybe regrow them. My career is established, and I’ve connected with friends, old and new. I've rediscovered my old habits- going to shows, listening to music, writing. Maybe it would be natural to connect those things.

Zack finally convinced me I had a spot doing this as I was telling him why I love Dayton: the community here, the vast and diverse talent we have in this one small city, the way we support each other, that Dayton has its own strange, specific sound. I told him about a playlist I had been making for an out of town friend, highlighting just that, how Dayton sounds to me. It isn’t a comprehensive playlist at all, and it isn’t a best-of, by any means, but songs that feel like they’ve been distilled right here, in my favorite place, the city I call home. Songs with a certain Dayton weirdness. And Zack said that was my first article, right there.

So here’s a playlist called Dayton Weird*, and I hope you like it as much as I do. I look forward to writing more for you in the future, Dayton. And thanks for having me.

*Dayton Weird features tracks by current and former acts based in or with connections to Dayton, including Me Time, M Ross Perkins, Company Man, Adam Remnant, Buffalo Killers, Human Cannonball, Motel Beds, and a fresh track from Andy Gabbard. Be sure to check out Andy’s new album, Cedar City Sweetheart, dropping Friday April 19 at Yellow Cab Tavern!

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