Levitt lineup includes Ohio Players, Tank and the Bangas

Levitt Pavilion Dayton announces 2021 Eichelberger Concert Season.

Summer concert series returns with 41 free shows in downtown Dayton

Let the music play!

A refreshing sign of a return to some sense of entertainment normalcy in the COVID-19 era, Levitt Pavilion Dayton has assembled a diverse 2021 Eichelberger Concert Season containing 41 free concerts. The multi-genre lineup of local, national and iconic acts spans generations in its embrace of bluegrass, hip hop, jazz, blues, funk, R&B, gospel, rock, and more.

Funk and R&B pioneers The Ohio Players will perform Sept. 18 at Levitt Pavilion Dayton. CONTRIBUTED
Funk and R&B pioneers The Ohio Players will perform Sept. 18 at Levitt Pavilion Dayton. CONTRIBUTED

The downtown venue, located at 134 S. Main St., will launch its fourth season Saturday, June 12, with New Orleans trumpet player Shamarr Allen. Other performers this summer include the legendary Ohio Players (Sept. 18), John McEuen of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (Sept. 2), United States Air Force Band of Flight (Aug. 7), the eclectic percussion of Making Movies (July 8), collegiate evenings devoted to the performing arts of Sinclair Community College (July 22) and Wright State University (Sept. 16), and evocative Puzzle of Light (Sept. 17).

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“We were really intentional this season to be reflective, (ensuring) the acts being represented on the stage mirrored more closely the demographic makeup of our city,” said Lisa Wagner, executive director of Levitt Pavilion Dayton. “We particularly wanted to be intentional about female-fronted bands and Black-fronted bands, making sure there was a nice proportion of those kind of acts throughout the season from an equitable (standpoint), which is very important to us. Ever since we opened in 2018, our focus has been to have highly diverse, high-caliber offerings on our season. We’re always looking for high-caliber artists who are out there touring and whose stars are rising, as well as seasoned artists such as Jon McEuen, someone who has already made their way and audiences can see for free.”

In 2019, Levitt Pavilion Dayton saw over 72,000 people in attendance on the lawn and had a $1.5 million economic impact on downtown Dayton. In 2020, they provided 16 free virtual concerts through Facebook and YouTube and injected $28,000 into the local arts industry. The 2021 season is considered a “rebuilding” year, but the goal is to come back stronger in 2022 with a minimum of 50 concerts.

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Wagner credits the artistic strengths of the organization to positive relationship-building within various facets of the community. She also says audience input has been a valuable tool in shaping programming.

“During the first two seasons, everyone loved R&B, blues, funk and neo-soul, so being able to expand in those areas has been fun,” she said. “I also remember having a conversation with a gentleman during our first season in which he told me that it didn’t matter whether or not he knew the artist on the stage. It was going to be a great representation of the genre (regardless). It’s about discovering new talent and becoming a fan of somebody new.”

Levitt Pavilion Dayton will offer a Juneteenth Concert on June 19 with Tank and the Bangas, Grammy-nominated in 2020 for Best New Artist. CONTRIBUTED
Levitt Pavilion Dayton will offer a Juneteenth Concert on June 19 with Tank and the Bangas, Grammy-nominated in 2020 for Best New Artist. CONTRIBUTED

New season, new initiatives

On Saturday, June 19, Levitt Pavilion Dayton will celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday marking the emancipation of slaves in the United States. Opening ceremonies curated by local poet/playwright/educator Sierra Leone of Oral Funk Poetry Productions will be followed by a concert from Grammy nominees Tank and the Bangas, a versatile quintet merging soul and hip-hop with R&B and smooth jazz.

“(Considering) the events of last year and wanting to use information to inspire a path forward, we all felt it was critically important to have learning, to be able to find out more about each other and different cultures,” Wagner said. “Juneteenth has been celebrated for decades, and to be able to put in an element in terms of an opening ceremonies before the concert provides a bridge for people who don’t know what Juneteenth is and want to learn more and participate. We hope it opens an avenue, an opportunity, giving access for people to celebrate together a wonderful holiday. And I’ve been trying to book Tank and the Bangas for years. When we told them what our community had been through, that we wanted to heal and move forward and we wanted them to be a part of that healing, they said absolutely.”

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In addition to providing pop-up outreach concerts across the area at 10 Wilmington Place, the Hope Center and Omega Senior Lofts, East End Community Services, and a to-be-determined location in Trotwood, the organization is also excited to supply a free summer camp. Conceived in collaboration with Robert Owens Sr. and the aforementioned Leone’s Signature Educational Solutions, the week-long arts camp, a Levitt first, will be held July 12-16.

“We hope the students will be the opening act for our Friday, July 16 concert — (hip hop and neo-soul artist) Sarob and (pop, blues and soul band) Honey and Blue,” Wagner said. “We hope the students will share their art and all they have created that week.”

Matt Maher will perform worship music Sept. 26 at Levitt Pavilion Dayton. CONTRIBUTED
Matt Maher will perform worship music Sept. 26 at Levitt Pavilion Dayton. CONTRIBUTED

Staying safe

In an attempt to “meet everyone where they are in this ever-changing environment,” the organization reminds patrons that in the interest of safety, adaptations have been made to ease the concert experience. For example, the Friends of Levitt Pavilion Dayton have installed touchless restrooms and will provide hand sanitizing stations around the park. Social distancing circles will be painted in a few rows at the back of the lawn for anyone who would like the space.

“We are constantly monitoring and listening to local and public health orders and remain nimble and flexible as the summer progresses,” Wagner said. “We ask that everyone attending the concerts be respectful and kind to one another as we all enjoy the return of live music.”

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All concerts this season will begin at 7 p.m. Guests are invited to bring picnic blankets, chairs, food, and beverages.

“No matter if you’re still feeling vulnerable, we want you to feel safe and welcomed here,” Wagner added. “And if you’re ready to get on the dance floor and shake it like nobody’s watching, we have a space for you, too. That’s the beauty of being such a huge outdoor space. There’s room for everybody.”

New Orleans trumpet player Shamarr Allen will perform June 12 at Levitt Pavilion Dayton. CONTRIBUTED
New Orleans trumpet player Shamarr Allen will perform June 12 at Levitt Pavilion Dayton. CONTRIBUTED

2021 Eichelberger Concert Season at Levitt Pavilion Dayton

(all shows start at 7 p.m.)

Shamarr Allen – Saturday, June 12

The Lao Tizer Band featuring Eric Marienthal – Thursday, June 17

Keith Leak & New Mercies – Friday, June 18

Juneteenth Concert with Tank and the Bangas – Saturday, June 19 (opening ceremonies 5 to 7 p.m., concert starts at 7 p.m.)

Vanessa Collier – Thursday, June 24

Scotty Bratcher Band – Friday, June 25

Farewell Angelina – Saturday, June 26

Making Movies – Thursday, July 8

Kyshona Armstrong – Friday, July 9

Nasty Bingo / Amber Hargett & The Who’s Who – Saturday, July 10

Seefari – Thursday, July 15

Sarob / Honey and Blue – Friday, July 16

Jamie Suttle – Saturday, July 17

An Evening with Sinclair – Thursday, July 22

LowDown Brass Band – Friday, July 23

Tommy McGuffey & True Worship – Saturday, July 24

The Drowsy Lads – Thursday, July 29

Reverend Horton Heat with The Hackensaw Boys and Kyle Eldridge – Friday, July 30

Big Sam’s Funky Nation – Saturday, July 31

Adam Ezra Group – Thursday, Aug. 5

Bassel & The Supernaturals – Friday, Aug. 6

Air Force Band of Flight: Flight One; Hometown Heroes Concert – Saturday, Aug. 7

The Pietasters – Thursday, Aug. 12

The Katawicks / Neo-American Pioneers – Friday, Aug. 13

Dayton Funk All-Stars – Saturday, Aug. 14

Alvin Youngblood Hart – Thursday, Aug. 19

Shayna Steele – Friday, Aug. 20

C Baccus & Co – Saturday, Aug. 21

John King – Thursday, Aug. 26

Nicky Kay’s Trio / Cherry Lee & The Hot Rod Hounds – Friday, Aug. 27

Southern Avenue – Saturday, Aug. 28

John McEuen and the String Wizards Present: Will the Circle Be Unbroken? – Thursday, Sept. 2

TBA – Friday, Sept. 3

Dayton Salsa Project – Saturday, Sept. 4

K Carter / Mariah J – Thursday, Sept. 9

The Repeating Arms – Friday, Sept. 10

Dave Greer’s Classic Jazz Stompers – Saturday, Sept. 11

Wright State Arts Live! A Celebration of Fine and Performing Arts – Thursday, Sept. 16

Puzzle of Light / The Elements – Friday, Sept. 17

Ohio Players – Saturday, Sept. 18

Matt Maher – Sunday, Sept. 26

For artists’ descriptions and additional information, visit levittdayton.org.