OAKLAND, Ky. _ It hit me suddenly last Saturday night at Ballance Farms* in Warren County while attending Starry Nights Music and Arts Festival.
I was standing backstage when I heard the incredible loud roar of the crowd of thousands of people cheering, clapping, yelling and screaming for Bowling Green, Ky's own super-stellar indie rock band, "Cage The Elephant" as they performed their hit song "In One Ear" on the stage.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBXlbw0niUI&feature=relmfu. Thousands of Cage fans were dazzled by the brights lights that flashed around the stage and showered the young musicians as they performed. The crowd danced, screamed and bounced around as the cacophony of intense rock music boomed into the late September starry night sky.
I quickly realized that this was an epic moment for the new generation of indie rockers and their fans. Cage The Elephant and Bowling Green resident and founder of Starry Nights, Bryan Graves, had actually pulled it all off, bringing thousands of music lovers and campers to a large farm out in the middle of nowhere. Starry Nights was held several miles outside of Bowling Green during a beautiful cool night illuminated by a full moon and many stars! Curators Matt and Brad Shultz (Cage The Elephant) and founder Graves along with lots of volunteers and event staff brought music to people of all ages nationally. Starry Nights has made history with the largest two day musical event to ever take place in Bowling Green and Southcentral Kentucky.
The Starry Nights weekend officially began for me and Patty on Thursday night. Since we had been networking on Facebook as band parents for quite a while, we had met several new friends who are fans of Sleeper Agent and Cage The Elephant. Facebook friends from Seattle, Wash.. flew in to Nashville and after checking into rooms at Marriott Courtyard in Bowling Green, called. We met up with them for drinks and dinner at Double Dogs later that night. And then on Friday afternoon, we met two family Facebook friends from Chicago for lunch at Cheddars. Patty said expect 1 or 50, she had no idea, but it turned out to be 20+ with parents and their rock star hopefuls. Afterwards they would settle into their rooms at Hilton Garden Inn. We also hosted a great friend and photographer from Lexington who was one of the first to photograph Sleeper Agent in "LexScene" magazine. Tony's godparents, Gay and Bill (also his aunt and Uncle) drove up from Memphis to hear the Sleepers perform for the very first time.
Backstage underneath the hospitality tent, a large gathering of friends and family members (by invitation only) surrounded the bands. In the crowd, were band parents, close friends, media and other local band members and friends. All of these were fans of the Bowling Green music scene, and we we basked in a celebration of the success of these fine musicians. Of course, my wife, Patty and I were there with our son, Tony, guitarist and vocalist of Sleeper Agent. It was also great to see Matt and Brad Shultz again from Cage The Elephant as well as Brad's wife, Lindsay. And course, we greeted and shook hands with Bryan Graves, founder of the festival and complimented his great work. As always there were big hugs and hellos all around and brief conversations with Matt and Brad's parents, Margie and Brad Sr., We also met older Shultz brother, Jeremy and met and spoke with lead guitarist Tyler Parrish (another super-cool member of Cage The Elephant). And what a pleasure to see rock promoter, band producer and good friend of Cage The Elephant and Sleeper Agent, Ryan "Zummy" Zumwalt and wife Laura of Nashville, Tenn.. Of course, it's always great to see and give hugs to the members of the other Sleepers too, lead singer Alex Kandel, keyboardist Scott Gardner, drummer Justin Wilson, bassist Lee Williams and lead guitarist, Josh Martin. (All the Sleepers are BG residents, attending high school here and Western Kentucky University with exception of Martin from Nashville who joined the band in February 2011). Also, Sleeper Agent road manager, Nick Hardy of Nashville was very gracious and friendly as always who gave a ride the stage to the backstage area in golf cart when we arrived at the festival. Before the Sleepers went on stage, Patty and I spoke briefly with well-known Rock DJ, Tommy Starr from WDNS-FM, D93, in Bowling Green. Tommy was very cool and apparently is a big fan of Sleeper Agent like he is with a lot of other local bands. Tommy is a big promoter of the Bowling Green music scene by hosting the former "Home Cookin'" on D93. He still does a form of the show every afternoon Monday through Friday.
We were able to see Sleeper Agent and Cage The Elephant perform from the side of the stage as "privileged holders" of backstage passes. Had we left the back stage area, we would not have been allowed to return. So we just watched from the sides of the stages and stayed backstage and enjoyed the company of the family and friends and the members of the bands. Sleeper Agent played one of their brand new songs that will be on their next album called "Be Brave." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlWepFPoVq4 They will be going into the studio beginning Nov. 12 for a month in Nashville with producer, Jay Joyce, and the album will be released on the RCA record label. And supposedly Tony and Alex from Sleeper Agent will be heading to Japan sometime in December to promote their first album, "Celabrasion" which is already being media blitz by RCA/Sony. Apparently, the album has a lot interest and popularity already by the Japanese. RCA is also Cage The Elephant's new label for the next album too. They will be going in the studio soon too with Joyce. Joyce has produce Cage's first two album as well as Sleeper Agent's first album.
Mainly, it was an incredible night to witness the Bowling Green music scene make history as Starry Nights translated energy and vibe into the minds and memories of thousands of people, young and old, who will remember this night for the rest of their lives. Patty and I know we will.
*Ballance Farms located on Louisville Rd on the outskirts of Bowling Green is also known their country hams that were cured, sold and shipped all nationwide for many years. It has also been home to Bluegrass music festivals and motocross racing events.