The small village of South Dayton will be transformed into a musical destination as the Christian Carlson Memorial Concert and Street Festival takes place July 28.
Created by friends and family in memory of Christian Carlson, a South Dayton native who passed away suddenly from a respiratory illness in November 2017, the one-day festival will feature live music on two stages, local food and drink vendors, children’s activities, and more than 100 auction items.
In addition to local sporting event tickets, restaurant gift certificates, and golf packages, one of the big ticket items available to win is a set of autographed drum heads and sticks from Twenty One Pilots drummer, Josh Dun.
According to Carlson’s longtime friend, Travis Milliman, having a piece of Twenty One Pilots at the event is extra special.
“Chris and I started our band in his garage when we were 12 years old and we played together for over 10 years,” Milliman said. “(Twenty One Pilots) was one of the many amazing bands we got to play with and meet over the years and (their support) means so much to us.”
Admission for the concert is $10 a person and free for children 12 and under.
All proceeds from the concert and street festival will benefit a scholarship fund established by Carlson’s family at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. The Christian A. Carlson Memorial Scholarship Fund will assist students graduating from Chautauqua and Cattaraugus County high schools attending SUNY Fredonia and majoring in a music related field.
“We are trying our best to do things, like this scholarship, to honor (Christian) and make him proud while trying to help build around this huge hole in our hearts,” Christian’s wife, Erin, said.
A 2006 Pine Valley Central School graduate, Carlson received his Bachelor of Arts degree from SUNY Fredonia in music business.
According to his family, music was Carlson’s passion and saving grace.
From birth, Carlson struggled with severe asthma and, as a child, developed Tourette’s Syndrome. He faced whatever life threw at him with confidence, grace and, more often than not, a joke.
However, when he played guitar, his Tourette’s symptoms lessoned and his personality and smile became infectious.
“Christian was all about the music,” his parents said. “He purchased his first guitar in fourth grade and never looked back.”
While in high school, Carlson’s band Everything and You was formed and eventually signed to Semitone Records where they recorded a full album and went on tour, opening for several bigger bands including OAR and Brand New.
Although he only lived a short 29 years, the stories Carlson’s family has heard about his big heart and giving nature are too many to count.
As a child, giving his hard earned money to strangers in need, to inviting a homeless man to lunch while on a business trip as an adult, part of what everyone loved about Carlson was his compassion for others.
“Christian’s absence is devastatingly obvious and always will be,” Erin said. “His light shined so bright and we are all just trying our best to keep that light alive through us.”
The Christian Carlson Memorial Concert and Street Festival begins at 1 p.m. on July 28 near Zollinger’s South Dayton Hotel.
For more information, and a complete music lineup, check out the Christian Carlson Memorial Concert event page on Facebook.