Lean On Me; Musicians Rally To Support Victims Of Violence, Tornadoes

With the overwhelming amount of gun violence in the news lately, it can be easy to tune out the media, shut off our TVs, and try and forget about all the horrific mass shootings that have affected so many across the U.S. in recent years. It can be easy to detach oneself from the constant bad news (and it does feel constant) cast out through our smart phones and computer screens. That is until it happens to you.

The horrific tragedy that struck the Oregon Historic District on August 4 in Dayton, Ohio ended the lives of nine people and injured dozens more. This turn of events has rocked the city and its residents, as it mourns the loss of mothers, fathers, children, and friends. Not only that, the incident became the 17th mass shooting to happen in the United States this year, alone.

The Oregon District tragedy came just months after an EF3 tornado hit the city and surrounding towns, injuring at least 200 people, ravaging neighborhoods and businesses, and leaving many without shelter or basic resources.

In the face of so much devastation, musician and organizer Ricky Terrell knew he had to do something to not only raise money and awareness for these tragedies, but unite those who were so deeply affected by them. Terrell partnered with Dayton United to put on a series of events supporting The Dayton Foundation — a local organization that’s helping survivors and the families of victims get back on their feet through The Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund, The Memorial Fund for the Oregon District and The Greater Dayton Disaster Relief Fund.

Terrell quickly looped in several nationally known acts, including Saves The Day, Bayside, and Thursday, as well as local favorite The 1984 Draft, for a pared-down acoustic show at Dayton Masonic Live this Wednesday, August 28. Terrell said he hopes the night will be a chance to lift the city’s spirits, with all proceeds going to the Dayton Foundation.

Terrell, along with The 1984 Draft frontman, Joe Anderl, were kind enough to speak to me about the hard work that went into making Dayton United: Benefit For The Dayton Foundation possible, and what steps Dayton is taking to heal and grow as a community. This interview has been edited for clarity.

(Feature/interview by Lillian Currens)

First off, I want to thank you both for taking the time to answer some of my questions. I sincerely appreciate all you’ve done for the Dayton community, and I look forward to an incredible show on Wednesday.

If you both could tell me a little about yourself and your role in Dayton United, specifically, how it became a reality and what inspired you to act in the face of two horrific tragedies occurring in such a short time period?

Ricky: 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.

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.

Joe: When the tornadoes happened, you almost knew exactly what to do. You knew you had to hit the streets and help however you can. I was with thousands of other Daytonians, donating water, cutting down trees, cleaning up people’s properties.

When everything happened on 5th street, I was at a loss. I knew I wanted to do something to help. Ricky contacted me pretty quickly with his idea for Dayton United and I knew I was in.

As far as inspiration, I don’t think we needed much. Daytonians are a unique breed who just start asking how they can help immediately. I guess it’s ingrained in us at this point.

I actually just saw Saves The Day a few weeks ago, and they put on quite a show! How did you go about contacting and enlisting some of these nationally known acts to put together an acoustic show?

Ricky: It was very easy. All the guys playing are incredibly nice and caring individuals. I was acquaintances with a few of them. It just took sending a couple text messages. Unfortunately, I had to turn a few acts away. If I would’ve known everyone wanted involved, I would’ve had the event on a Saturday!

Can you tell me a little more about the event and the other events happening over the week, including which events you’re most excited about?

Joe: I’m obviously most excited about this show. I feel humbled and lucky to be the Dayton representative on this bill. I know I have a certain obligation to show the audience what Dayton is all about. I’m here to spread the love, joy, hope and friendship that makes Dayton so great.  I know when I stand on that stage I am representing something bigger than myself. I am representing a whole community of wonderfully giving and talented individuals. I hope that is what people leave with.

Since these tragedies I’ve been seeing a lot of the hashtag #daytonstrong popping up on social media. I know Dayton United is trying to elevate this to more than just a hashtag, so can you tell me a little bit about what this phrase means to you?

Ricky: 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.

Joe: I almost feel like we can leave the ‘strong’ part out of the hashtag. We are just Dayton.  Dayton has the unique quality to just bind together, pick up people in need, and lift each other up.  This is something I see in Daytonians every day.  It’s not just with tragedies. I am proud to call Dayton home because of this. I never seen another community that is so giving as the people of Dayton.  Someone is always willing to lend a hand and do what is right. It seems like the whole community is willing to put others first, which is what makes it such a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family.

Any other events or rallies people should know about benefiting those affected by these recent events?

My wife is hosting Drawing Dayton Together on Friday, August 30. It’s a benefit with over 15 tattoo artists hosting a Pop Up tattoo shop at the Yellow Cab. All tattoos are Dayton inspired.  All proceeds go to the Dayton Foundation. There will also be live bands and food trucks!

Dayton United: Benefit for The Dayton Foundation will be held at Dayton Masonic Live on the evening of Wednesday, August 15 from 6:00 to 11:00 P.M. and will feature acoustic performances from Antony Raneri of Bayside, Vinnie Caruana from The Movielife and I Am the Avalanche, Geoff Rickly from Thursday, Chris Conley from Saves The Day, and Joe Anderl of The 1984 Draft. Tickets are $15 and are available to purchase now. The event will be part of a larger group of events put on by Dayton United. More information and other ways to get involved can be found on their Facebook page here, while more information on Wednesday’s event can be found here.