This is the seventh year of Lamp Light Music Festival, the independently organized, artist-run music festival in the Eastown neighborhood, but it marks the first year the event will not be held in a house-show setting. Since its inception in 2012, the festival experienced organic growth, becoming too big for its former digs (It’s held over 200 shows, workshops and discussions). To accommodate that growth, this year, Lamp Light is expanding the main stage to Wealthy Theatre for its Nov. 2-4 event.
Over 30 local, regional and nationally-performing artist will play the festival, providing an eclectic mix of styles from hip-hop to psychedelic tunes, to folk music. The sets are intermixed with other offerings like story hour, creative panel discussions and free public performances being held in local businesses.
In partnership with Community Media Center, this year’s changes to the Lamp Light Music Festival will continue the event’s initial mission of welcoming creativity to all. Vanessa Autumn, one of the co-producers of the festival, works on digital media and communications for the event. One of her duties has been to assist in the transition, making sure people understand the story, and why these changes are something to be excited about.
Former living room settings provided a small capacity and were quickly filled—which was a good and bad thing. While it meant a successful festival, having to turn away guests who paid to see a performance but couldn’t due to space constraints was an issue.
“With that growth, it caused us to rethink some things and troubleshoot some problems,” Autumn said. “Living rooms have such a small capacity and we really fill those spaces really quickly with how many people want to come see these acts. It’s an awesome problem to have, but we also want to make sure people see who they came to see.”
The organic growth of the festival forced Lamp Light event organizers to think about how to adjust and adapt to a growing, changing festival.
“I don’t think it’s been anybody’s goal to blast the walls off the festival and make it this thing where like 10,000 people show up,” Autumn said. “We’ve been taking each challenge in stride. It does feel like it’s been a pretty natural unfolding of growth.”
Despite being able to bring bigger names on bigger stages, and shifting from smaller homes to a bigger theatre venue, the original mission of Lamp Light remains unaltered.
“If anything, this year we’re going to be able to do an even better job of cultivating that mission,” Autumn said. “A LOT OF WHAT WE DO IS CREATE THESE SPACES WHERE INSPIRATION IS BEING CULTIVATED AND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES ARE PROVIDED, WHICH ALL LEAD TO ENRICHING THE COMMUNITY.”
Remaining close to the original Eastown neighborhood home base, Wealthy Theatre (capacity of 400) was added as the main stage venue, thanks to a close relationship to the owners as well as its location.
“It’s such a beautiful and historic theater that we just felt like it would be such a natural transition if we had to pull it out of an intimate cozy house setting,” Autumn said. “This would be the closest thing to still maintaining those same vibes.”
Another big factor in Lamp Light’s recent changes focuses on increasing accessibility and inclusion: making events available to everyone. Obvious restrictions resulted from older homes, lack of handicap ramps, cramped spaces and privacy issues surrounding homes as the event’s venues.
“Anyone who wants to come, regardless of their ability, should just be able to come through the front door and feel welcome, and that shouldn’t be a barrier,” Autumn said.
This year, Lamp Light will also utilize the surrounding businesses to hold new programming, which is free to the public. Participating locations will include The Sparrow’s Coffee, Tea & Newsstand, Squibb Coffee & Wine Bar, Woosah, Wikiwiki Poke Shop, and more.
“Being able to bring it into the public space is going to generate conversations with people who aren’t plugged in to what’s happening,” Autumn said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of rippling conversations and effects.”
Much of what sets Lamp Light apart from other local festivals and live music events take place behind-the-scenes. Organized by artists themselves, Lamp Light continually proves that a lot of heart, despite how small the initial stage might be, can make for a memorable community experience.
“I think there’s an element of care—we’re also run mostly by volunteers,” Autumn said. “You don’t really give that much of yourself to something for free or very little, unless you generally care about it. I think there’s a huge amount of heart that goes into the work to put it together.”
This year’s lineup includes Sugar Candy Mountain, Bong Wish, Last Gasp Collective, Breathe Owl Breathe, Dos Santos and more. Full weekend passes and single day passes are available now on Lamp Light’s website.
*Photos courtesy of Lamp Light Music Festival