A Second Home

Rusted Root’s Liz Berlin will make a return to The Great Blue Heron grounds during Night Lights At The Heron.

Berlin will be joined by musician Mark Strickland during the Night Lights At The Heron performance on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 10:30 p.m.

According to Doug Sitler, Night Lights At The Heron organizer, participants will walk a smooth 1-mile trail past ponds and into a forest filled with colorful lighting schemes and art. Eventually guests will encounter the Cafe in the Woods; a combination cafe and performance stage, which is where the entertainment portion of the event occurs.

“I’m really excited about Liz Berlin’s solo show. She is a very talented individual, and being from one of our favorite bands, Rusted Root, it’s an honor for us to bring her to the unique and intimate setting that is the Cafe In The Woods,” Sitler said.

Berlin is also quite excited about the opportunity to perform during Night Lights At The Heron, especially because she hasn’t yet seen the Cafe in the Woods, which is an outdoor venue.

“I’m so excited about it – it’s so neat,” Berlin said. “I love being outdoors first of all, and playing outdoors as a solo act is something I haven’t gotten to do very much of lately. I’m really excited to see how my music translates visually throughout the forest.”

“The Cafe In The Woods looks beautiful,” Strickland said while browsing the Heron Night Lights website.

According to Berlin, she is especially excited to return to the area because Chautauqua County, Jamestown and The Great Blue Heron Festival played a particularly important role in the early development of Rusted Root.

“We started out in Pittsburgh, but a really big part of the development of Rusted Root came from meeting musicians from other areas and trading gigs,” Berlin said. “We started playing Jamestown at places such as Joyce’s Keg Room, and met bands like Donna The Buffalo. We definitely consider that area a second home, and as one of the foundational spots of Rusted Root’s development.”

Berlin released her first solo album “AudioBioGraphical” in 2005, and has since continued touring with Rusted Root.

“I’ve always been a songwriter from the beginning, and a couple of my songs ended up as Rusted Root songs, but it became apparent that my solo music was to be a separate thing,” Berlin said. “The songs that I write are really personal in nature, and they range from beautiful soft finger-picky pretty female vocal stuff to raging, aggressive acoustic. All of my songs are sort of about my process of really growing up and through a lot of struggles and pain that I had as a younger child and adult – struggles of trying to find my own strength in the world.”

“Coming from a fan, and someone who plays with Liz – it’s very different from Rusted Root musically,” Strickland added.

According to Strickland and Berlin, a couple of the solo tunes that are particularly popular include: “All I Ever Need” and “Monster.”

“‘All I Ever Need’ is kind of like a blues-influenced song that’s my rant against commercialism. I wrote it around Christmas and holiday time when there’s a barrage of products and commercials everywhere. I had to pull back and evaluate what really was all I needed,” Berlin said. “‘Monster,’ which is on my solo album ‘AudioBioGraphical,’ starts out haunting and kind of mesmerizing, and is about me accepting and coming to terms with having to grow up in the spotlight with Rusted Root – I feel like I got kind of accidentally famous before I really understood what it meant. It was the way that people saw me, versus the way I saw myself.”

In addition to continuing to tour with Rusted Root, and her solo work, Berlin is also currently the camp director for Creative.Life.Support, which is an annual kids music camp.

“I’ve done some of my most fulfilling work with Creative.Life.Support teaching kids,” Berlin said. “I feel a strong desire to share some of my experiences with young aspiring musicians to try and help them gain a more realistic understanding of how to go about trying to create a career without relying on expectations of what things should be like. Inevitably, if you’re not building a strong foundation of your own talent and material then those false expectations can lead to failure.”

For more information visit www.lizberlin.com.

Night Lights At The Heron, an annual agri-eco tourism attraction which utilizes LED technology to illuminate a Western New York landscape, is currently in its fifth season of operation.

Night Lights will also feature a two-day Fall Music Festival on Sept. 13-14, which will include nearly 20 bands. Some of the acts for the event include: Marco Benevento, The Heavy Pets, Schleigho, Jimkata, The Manhattan Project, Lazlo Hollyfeld, Smackdab, Aqueous, Aircraft, Funktional Flow, DJ Cutler, Universe Shark and others. For more information visit www.nightlightsfest.com.

The grounds will be open to the public from dusk to 11 p.m. each Friday and Saturday through Oct. 5. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children 7-12 years old and 6 years and under are free. The Heron is located at 2361 Waits Corners Road in Sherman. For more information, or to view the full schedule of entertainment, visit heronnightlights.com.