Five years ago, Columbus indie culture lost one of its biggest, loudest, most beloved unifying forces. His many friends have been celebrating what he stood for ever since.
Daymon Dodson died unexpectedly from complications from a seizure on August 16, 2006. He left behind a legacy of providing common ground for disparate cliques that may have otherwise steered clear of each other — hip-hop heads, metal-heads, hardcore kids, indie rock nerds and whoever else crossed his path.
Dodson, also known by the aliases So What and Racist Joe, was best known for hosting the Fonosluts’ Sunday night hip-hop parties at Bernie’s. But his influence reached far beyond the hip-hop community.
“Daymon was a guy who could bring people together, many kinds of people, from any genre of music. He was respected as a tastemaker in every scene,” said Columbus rapper Blueprint, who mingled with the underground rock community partially because of Dodson’s influence. “Because of that, because of his popularity, he was able to bring a scene together that had never been brung together.”
A month after Dodson’s death, dozens of his friends organized the Daymon Day Parade, marching from Tuttle Park just north of the Ohio State campus to the intersection of High Street and 5th Avenue. The tradition stuck, and now the sixth annual parade is set for Saturday.
This year’s festivities will be bigger than ever. Skully’s will host a kickoff concert the night before the parade. A 7-inch single featuring Dodson’s hit “Bitch You Don’t Know S---” will be handed out at the parade. The single features artwork by Grammy-winning graphic designer Michael Carney, a friend of Dodson’s who will return to Columbus to DJ the parade after-party at Carabar alongside fellow Columbus expat Ahmed Gallab, a.k.a. Sinkane.
Gallab, who now plays with the successful Brooklyn indie rock band Yeasayer, credits Dodson with inspiring him to seriously pursue his dreams. He first encountered Dodson at a hardcore show at the Legion of Doom punk house.
“I had never seen another black person at a show,” Gallab said. “It took a lot of confidence in a person to be able to go to these kind of shows and completely break up the segregation in a music community.”
Gallab marched in the first Daymon Day Parade but hasn’t been in Columbus to celebrate since. In the interim, Daymon Day’s popularity has only ballooned. According to underground rock fixture Zac Szymusiak, a friend of Dodson’s, the event has become about remembering lost friends, taking care of each other and celebrating unity. All are welcome, whether they knew Dodson or not.
“It’s now reaching that point where there’s a lot of people that don’t really know Daymon as well,” Szymusiak said. “I think Daymon would love the fact that there’s people he doesn’t know marching in his parade.”