Women Who Rock: Gayle Dillman

Gayle Dillman - Ladybug Music Festival

Never get in the way of a woman and her passion. In the case of Gayle Dillman, it was her role as a proud stay-at-home mom that created a path for her to co-found Gable Music Ventures and its Ladybug Festival.

In 2010, seeking to showcase her talented daughter’s original music, she paired up with now-business-partner Jeremy Hebbel to put on “First Annual Yorklyn Rock Showcase.” One thing led to another and this entrepreneur, who has been quoted in Billboard Magazine, will soon welcome 10,000 guests to the eighth annual Festival, taking place July 18 and 19, 2019.

We asked this rocking chick about her life and inspirations as a music lover:

IN: What was the first concert you went to?
Gayle: I think it was the Eagles and I think they played with America in Connecticut. It was the first time I went to a concert without any parental supervision. Colt (as in the gun manufacturer) Stadium – I don’t think it’s there anymore. Being able to go alone was the most memorable thing about it.

IN: Tell us about some memorable music moments from your life.
Gayle: There are so many.

One was seeing Stevie Wonder in concert years ago. It was practically a religious experience, I was moved to tears. I realized, we hear his songs over and over, but there was a time when they were original and new and everybody heard them for the first time. I recognized his genius and the vibration he gave from the stage. It was a magical moment for sure.

Another was after the third Wilmo Rock Circus when we had about 700 people at The Queen. At about eleven o’clock at night, I was standing on Market Street and realizing that I think I just did something. I did something with this business that has affected people in a big way. I was overcome by emotion.

I’ve been moved to tears with individual performances on Market Street. People playing and putting their heart and soul into it. My experiences are all over the place – I remember seeing the Flaming Lips at Firefly and just being floored how great they are and really loving that.

The diversity of music I hear just makes me sit back and go, “Wow, I wish I could do what I hire for and write a song like that.”

IN: What was the last significant concert or show you attended?
Gayle: I went to go see L.P. this winter. She blew my socks off. I’m going to go see the Rolling Stones on July 23rd.

IN: What national artist have you seen perform the most? 
Gayle: Guster. They’re awesome. I’ve seen them four or five times. They’re coming to XPoNential on te Sunday lineup so I’m going to see them again. They’re four guys that went to Tufts University and are awesomely creative. Their music was really pivotal in the early days of Gable, and it inspired me to reach out to artists doing original music. 

I’ve seen the John Butler Trio three or four times. They’re way cool, too. A festival band. They played at XPoNential a number of times.

IN: Who is on your bucket list to see in concert?
Gayle: Rolling Stones, which I’m seeing this month. Eric Clapton. Daft Punk — and they never perform anymore— I love them and would love to see them. Coldplay; I never saw them live, and missed when they came through. Bruce Springsteen.

IN: Who is on your dream/bucket list to book for Ladybug?
Gayle: Joan Jett. Because she’s been in the business for a long time. She’s sixty years old, is hot as s#@t, sings like a monster and she’s maintained her following and her integrity over the years and I think that’s cool. And I think she’s from the Main Line.

Alice Merton. 

Ideyi, two sisters and they’re French-Cuban and are awesome. I saw them at Union Transfer.

IN: Describe your dream venue.
Gayle: Something that’s really a flex space. Something that can be intimate for fifty but expands to 500 that is comfortable for people of all walks of life, ages, abilities to get comfortable in. One of the challenges venues have is standing room, which is a challenge for people who are older to stand two to four hours in one spot. That’s something that is not accommodated very much anymore because it’s a numbers game. Flex seating in larger venues is something that I would ideally like. 

It doesn’t have to be a food kind of thing, but good reasonable drinks with adequate bar service and really good sound mixing. 

More inclusive of all ages. There’s a reason why people gravitate to music because it puts you in the present moment. When they’re listening to music, they aren’t thinking about what was. It’s a good thing regardless of age to be able to experience. And it doesn’t matter – it can be any kind of music.

IN: Is your daughter still pursuing music? What does your son do?
Gayle: My daughter, Erica, is a film editor and colorit with Harper’s Bazaar. She edited the last 3 Ladybug videos. She has a really cool job. She went to Drexel and she made the decision to change her studies from music to film and video.

My son, Tyler, is in DC. He works for the Advisory Board and travels all over the country teaching universities to use predictive student modeling software. He’s very articulate, just like you’d expect from a corporate trainer.

They are my steady rocks behind the scenes to create this business.


The Ladybug Festival has been touted as the largest celebration of women in music in the country of recent times, with an anticipated 101 artists in 2019. It’s still free, and it’s still family friendly. Thursday night will feature an outdoor mainstage and Friday night will consist of all indoor venues.

Some of the 101 artists include Jessica Latshaw from Boston, MA, Angela Sheik from Wilmington, DE, and Los Angeles, CA, Aubrey Haddard from Cambridge, MA, Melanie Brulée from Cornwall, ON, Nalani & Sarina from Flemington, NJ, Ginger Coyle from Southampton, NJ, Sweet Leda from Annapolis, MD, Phoebe Legere from New York, NY, THRILLCHASER and Andrea Nardello from Philadelphia, PA, Dentist from Asbury Park, NJ and Delaware artists Hoochi Coochi, Stacia LaChole and Eyebawl.

Chicky’s Pizza Pub, LOMA Coffee, The Farmer & the Cow (hosting four acts from Nashville, Merchant Bar, The Crown at the Queen, Delaware College of Art and Design (DCAD), Bardea, Starbucks, The Christina Cultural Arts Center, Spaceboy Clothing, the brand new plaza at Chelsea Tavern, The Sarah Bernhardt Salon at the Grand, Stitch House Brewery, DECO Food Hall, and Tonic Bar & Grill will all host live music.

New and notable about the 2019 festival:

  • A return to the Thursday-Friday schedule, in response to feedback that guests missed the weeknight offering.

  • Friday-night has been dubbed a “Bug Crawl,” a pub crawl beginning at DE.CO and ending at Chicky’s Pizza Pub. 65 artists are scheduled for 15 venues throughout the downtown stretch, from 4pm to midnight.

  • A Ladybug-themed craft beer, Rose Lager, created in partnership with Stitch House Brewery and Mispillion River Brewing.

  • Fresh off a Firefly Festival performance, Aubrey Haddard is the first artist to have performed at both Firefly and Ladybug.

  • The return of Jessica Latshaw, who had the attention of millions when a video of her performing in the New York Subway went viral. 

  • 101 artists performing (that’s a 25 percent growth over 2018!)

  • A local supergroup called “The Ladybugs of Soul” will pay tribute to Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner and more to close out night one on the main stage right on Market Street on the festival’s long time home, 2nd & LOMA (lower market).