By Ryan Smith

Time to quit messing around!,” Lake Erie-area live music promoter and aficionado Ryan Bartosek shouted out on a Night Lights final lineup announcement post a couple of days back: “One of the coolest fests in the region is happening NEXT WEEKEND!

To be clear here, music-man Bartosek is a longtime fan, longtime-goer, and, a few years back, a performer — but not an affiliate, organizer or staffer — of the particular (and particularly awesome) get-down that is Night Lights Music Festival.

But (and, really, this ain’t hard), he sure can get behind it.

I’m not sure who still takes my opinions on music and events seriously, but if you do, then you most likely already know this is my favorite event of the year,” he went on. “I’m not gonna list the reasons why, instead use the time you’d have spent reading that list to go buy tickets!

Well, we still take you seriously, man. And, so happens, we have some time. Guessing if you’re here, you probably do, too. So let’s dig in a little, and count some of the ways that Night Lights is, though small, so epic:


This year, there are headliners including the almighty Lotus; two nights of longtime Night Lights stalwarts and prog-jam masters Aqueous (along with another Thursday night blow-out by some of their mask-wearin,’ dirty groove-blastin,’, breakfast-makin’ ‘cohorts,’ Boss Tweed and the Carpetbaggers); Legendary Colorado funksters The Motet; Octave Cat featuring Jesse Miller of Lotus, Eli Winderman of Dopapod and Charlie Patierno; and Fearless, a much-anticipated, sure-to-be-amazing Pink Floyd tribute featuring moe.’s Chuck Garvey, Aqueous’ Evan McPhaden and Mike Gantzer, Dopapod’s Eli Winderman, and Mungion’s Matt Kellen.

Holy smokes, Night Lights.

Space Junk

And that’s just the top of the list. Rounding out the lineup are all sorts of other sonic crackerjacks like DynoHunter, Space Junk, LeSpecial, Lazlo Hollyfeld, Holy Hand Grenade, Tropidelic, Funktional Flow, and — well, let’s just say there’s more. So much more that you’ll most definitely find at least a few new favorites, and at least a couple of instances where you’ll have to flip a coin (or a friend, or something) to decide which act to catch at the main stage or in the woods (not a bad problem to have in life, mind you).

Now I say this all the time — when I write for The Jamwich, or the Erie Reader, or anyone else, so I think it’s safe to reiterate, once again, that the good people behind Night Lights really, really do have damn fine taste in music, and, man, they know how to put on one spectacular get-down.

Add to that the fact that Night Lights also calls Sherman, New York’s beautiful Great Blue Heron festival grounds its home (bringing, with its light and sound and people, a new — and entirely complementary — vibe into that hallowed space for three days and nights between Thursday, Aug. 23 and Saturday, Aug. 25) and what we have is something special, one of the best of the best of the new community of music festivals that have popped up around the Northeast region in recent years.

See you in the woods? Once you’ve arrived, you’ll hear and see a lot of this:

Welcome home.”

And, after you’ve been there a little while, you’ll feel it there too.

Ryan Smith is a northwestern Pa.-based cook and writer/photographer who focuses on music, food, arts, culture and other topics throughout the region.