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Miami Valley Music Focus explores the places and people behind the music of Southwest, Ohio.

Famous Folks and Their Favorite Songs: Libby Ballengee

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If you keep your ears to the streets, if you’re “outside” as the kids say today, then you’ve seen Libby Ballengee. You’ve seen her at local concerts. You’ve seen her on television. You’ve heard and listened to her on podcasts. She is, in her words, a “Music Booker and Promoter at The Brightside Music and Event Venue”. That’s accurate, but what’s equally correct is Ballengee is one of Dayton’s biggest advocates. Whenever she can, she’s putting the word out about how special the Gem City is. Especially the city’s arts scene. I caught up with Ballengee recently, and asked her about her five favorite songs. Her (fascinating) list is below.

Fallingwater by Maggie Rogers - “This is a very tough list to narrow down. Top 5 Songs? It would be real easy for me to rattle off classic essentials… Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Prince, etc. I don’t think that’s super interesting though! Maggie Rogers is a recent fave, and someone I’ve had the pleasure of seeing perform live. She’s passionate, fresh, original, super cool. I particularly love her performance on SNL - chills!”

Franklin's Tower by The Grateful Dead - “That said, I gotta include at least one classic rock song, right? The Dead holds a special place in my heart. 1993 Buckeye Lake was my first concert! It was a mind boggling and utterly life changing experience. This particular song I love because it makes me feel happy. It reminds me of my idyllic childhood, and brings my heart close to my parents, whom have both now passed. ‘May the four winds blow you home again…’ “

There There by Radiohead - “Confession… I’m pretty sure I left Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief album in my car’s CD player for a straight year after it was released in 2003! It’s such a perfect album, and There There in particular captures a mood, a pulse, a feeling that is so unique. I love to completely rock out at the frenzied crescendo at the 4 min mark. Such a release! Although I’m linking to music video, this song is best enjoyed with eyes closed and dancing. “

Possibly Maybe by Bjork - “I was such a big Bjork fan during high school and college. Her compositions were so dynamic and layered in a completely new way. Plus, I didn’t have cable (MTV) until senior year of high school, when this video came out. It completely transfixed me, and was so relatable during that very confusing time in one’s life. ‘Uncertainty excites me… Who knows what’s going to happen?’ Unlike the last entry, this song is best enjoyed completely transfixed in this video!”

Thread the Line by Jack Ballengee-Morris - “You may notice we share a name. Is this a biased pick? Absolutely! It’s my list and I can pick my nephew’s song if I want to, right? Seriously though, I’m not just picking this because we are related. I genuinely adore this song. The swell of the cellos, the delicate vocal harmonies. This song makes so many memories bubble up, and I don’t think it’s because I know the songwriter.Give it a listen and see if the same happens for you!”

Honorable Mention - Laid by James - “As I mentioned, this was a hard list to whittle down, and if asked on a different day, I may say 5 different songs. However I feel remiss if I don’t do a quick mention of my favorite song to drive to, especially on a sunny day! What a mood lifter. Whenever I need a sonic pick-me-up, this is my go-to! I pretend I’m a drummer and bang out that bad mood. (How long can you hold that “eeeeee”?)”

Miami Valley Music Focus explores the places and people behind the music of Southwest, Ohio. This series is made possible by support from Ohio Arts Council.

Greg Simms Jr. is a veteran content creator and cultural expert who's worked for numerous digital publications over the years. He's a resident of Greene County, but he's always aware of social-cultural events happening all over the Miami Valley. To contact Greg, email him at: grgsmmsjr@gmail.com