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Dayton Music Festivals Go On As Scheduled After Multiple Tragedies


There were funerals over the weekend for six of the victims of the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, a week earlier. Funeral services for two more victims will be held today. Although the police investigation continues, a pair of festivals went on as scheduled, giving local residents a chance to regain a bit of normalcy. NPR's Don Gonyea was there.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: For 36 years, Dayton has held its annual Germanfest.


GONYEA: There's beer, German food, even folks strolling around in lederhosen, and of course music.


GONYEA: But this year's event also offered something else, something far simpler.

ERIKA KLABER: Maybe take a breath, get back to the basics of just maybe dancing, singing. That's such a healing thing.

GONYEA: Erika Klaber is the leader of a popular German-style band called The Klaberheads, and they had people doing all of those things this weekend in Dayton. Still, she said, it did not feel at all like a normal gig.

KLABER: I think people were still a little nervous, sad, you know.

GONYEA: The audience.

KLABER: Right, the audience - maybe feel a little guilty for having a good time.

GONYEA: Like, is it OK...

KLABER: Right.

GONYEA: ...To come out here and have fun?

KLABER: Right.

GONYEA: By the end of the night, the dance floor was full, and you can hear that people embraced the opportunity.


GONYEA: Now let's go a short distance to the other side of downtown, to a very different festival, but one that also celebrates Dayton's cultural history.


THE JOHNSON TREATMENT: Going to get this started right.

GONYEA: This is the first ever Dayton Funk Fest. Funk music was invented right here in this city.


THE JOHNSON TREATMENT: What's up Dayton, Ohio? Going to have some fun. You want to help out, come on. (Singing) Say, uptown funk you up, uptown funk you up.

GONYEA: Five bands were on the daylong lineup, all local. First on the bill was one called The Johnson Treatment. That's who you're hearing here. The lawn in front of the pavilion filled in over the course of the afternoon. It was a free show. Fifty-seven-year-old bus driver Barry Hawkins appreciated all of it. He, like many others here, pointed to not just the mass shooting but also the deadly tornado that tore through the county and Dayton itself just two months ago. It's been an awful summer, he said.

BARRY HAWKINS: Yeah. Well, we'll never forget what happened, but, you know, you got to move on, you know. You got to keep it moving. We're still here; we ain't going nowhere. Yeah.

GONYEA: Meanwhile on stage, both events were on the mind of singer and keyboardist Tory James.

TORY JAMES: Lot of stuff's been happening, so we need this. We need this coming together. Yeah.

GONYEA: And then back into music. Here's The LYD Band.


THE LYD BAND: (Singing) We got a real type of thing going down. Get down.

GONYEA: Watching the audience, everybody was moving and dancing. I mean, it's hard to listen to funk and not move; it's also hard to listen and not feel better, at least for the moment.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, Dayton.


THE LYD BAND: (Singing) Got to have the funk. We want the funk. Got to have that funk.

Y'all sing with me now here. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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