Rockin’ in a winter wonderland with Brite Winter Music Festival

February 16th, 2012

When one pictures a music festival, the image that probably comes to mind is an outdoor stage on a hot summer day. Cleveland’s local recording studio, Bad Racket, sees things a bit differently. It’s looking to help put on a music festival right here in Cleveland this weekend, in the middle of frigid February.

Bad Racket, which is partially comprised of JCU alumni Thomas Fox and Adam Wagner, is sponsoring the Brite Winter music festival this Saturday at eight venues around Ohio City, completely free of charge.

The festival operates as its own non-profit entity under the Ohio City Inc. Community Development Corporation, but Bad Racket plans on helping make the festival as terrific as possible.

“[Brite Winter] began three years ago,” said Fox. “A bunch of people got together in the middle of February and had a goofy party in the park with a whole bunch of bands playing in the snow. It was a terrible idea. Cleveland in the winter time could be freezing cold and you never know when we could get two tons of snow dropped on our back porch. Naturally I was on board.”

And the festival has been growing steadily every year. “We had about four times the bands in 2011 as in 2010, and we’re keeping up that trend in 2012. Brite Winter is going to be very big this year,” said Fox.

Very big, indeed. A total of 40 groups will be playing the festival this year, many of them clients of Bad Racket, and coming from all over.

A lot of the bands are from northeastern Ohio, but there are also a sprawling collection of bands from all over the country, such as Wild Rompit from Philadelphia, Black Taxi from Brooklyn, Bad Veins from Cincinnati, Black Shades from Kentucky and Jack & the Bear from Michigan.

“I’m really excited about the geographic diversity,” said Fox. “You can’t see these bands playing around Cleveland very often, and definitely not for free.”

The venues are also part of the fun, with the list including Great Lakes Brewing Company, Bon Bon Bake Shop and Market Ave. Wine Bar. You can also purchase special tickets that get you travel mugs or pint glasses, and drinks at the venues.

How is Bad Racket able to make this festival free? “We’re not making it free, the community is,” said Fox. “There are literally hundreds of people pitching a little bit into a stone soup, including sponsors, business owners, community leaders, artists and musicians. The steering committee wanted to make something fully accessible, something that proved that winter here can be awesome if we choose to make it so.”

“Since Brite Winter is free, we can openly invite the entire region to come out and play, regardless of any predisposition to do otherwise.”

It sounds like if you’re a fan of good music and good spirits, Brite Winter Music Festival is calling your name. You might want to bring a jacket, though.

For more information on the festival, visit