More bands, people attend biggest Starry Night festival

The crowd of the Starry Nights Music Festival is illuminated by the blue lights from the stage during Friday night’s performances.

Chris Rutledge

If Bryan Graves has anything to say about it, Bowling Green is no longer just a town to pass through for music fans on the way from Nashville to Louisville. The Bowling Green native said he had this in mind when he organized the Starry Nights Music Festival in 2008.

In its first year, the festival booked for its headliner Nashville-based Moon Taxi and consisted of only 5 bands. This year Graves managed to secure more than 40 bands and some groups from outside Bowling Green including Cage the Elephant, Daniel Johnston and Keller Williams.

A crowd covered the entire campsite at 6241 Morgantown Road on Friday, Saturday and early Sunday morning for the festival. The festival offered a diverse lineup that appealed to various different music interests.

“I’m excited to step in to something that is already established,” Williams said. “Festivals are exciting when there isn’t just local music on the bill. An exciting thing about a festival to me is to see different bands from other genres and other parts of the country in a one-and-done situation that a festival provides. I would feel very lucky to have music festivals put on near you, because it doesn’t happen where I live.”

Michael Dean, bassist of local band The Black Shades, was happy to be playing amongst popular outside talent.

“I’ve known about this festival for a few years, but I’ve never actually been, because it’s never been huge,” Dean said.

People are baffled at how many big names were at the festival, Dean said.

“You wonder, ‘What are they doing here? How did they get them here? How much money did they pay them to get them here?'” he said. “Nobody knows the answers to those questions, but I think it’s really cool that they are here.”

Moon Taxi keyboardist Wes Bailey predicted that the festival will continue to grow in the coming years.

“This (festival) is mid-level now – we’ve done a lot smaller ones,” Bailey said. “Next year this is going to be one of the top ones.”

Many WKU students attended the festival, including Ben Murphy, who was randomly selected from the crowd to win a guitar autographed by Cage the Elephant.

“It’s been really fun,” Murphy said. “I had never seen Cage the Elephant before, and I thought they killed it. I got pretty deep into the pit and had a really good time.”

Alex “Kidd” Kandel, vocalist of local band Sleeper Agent, is thankful for the festival.

“I think Starry Nights has done a lot to bring attention to how many bands are here,” Kandel said. “This festival is kind of putting Bowling Green on the map. There are bands from other cities talking about Bowling Green now and wanting to come and play here.”

Sleeper Agent drummer, Justin “Keyser” Wilson, believes that Graves’s vision has become a reality.

“I like how the scene in Bowling Green is not quite overshadowing Nashville, but that there are these two cities now that are within minutes from each other, and the difference in the scenes are night and day,” Wilson said. “If Nashville is music capital, then Bowling Green is music un-capital.”