Bonnaroo, a massive, four-day music and arts festival held every June in the otherwise sleepy town of Manchester, Tennessee, kicks off its 9th season today.
About 75,000 fans are expected to make the road trip and brave a weekend of humidity, mud and portable toilets to see more than 100 acts – including headliners Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z and Conan O’Brien.
This year, more than with previous festivals, organizers are spreading the wealth across the web for fans unable (or unwilling) to attend in person. Live performances of 30 acts, including Tenacious D, The National, LCD Soundsystem and Ween will be streamed on YouTube, while NPR.org plans to webcast dozens of complete performances, including The Flaming Lips, Norah Jones and John Prine.
In recent years, Bonnaroo - the Manchester, Tennessee, music, arts and let-it-all-hang-out festival - has welcomed Bruce Springsteen, Phish, Al Green, the White Stripes, Of Montreal, Kings of Leon, the Police, Metallica, Aimee Mann and B.B. King ... just to name a (very) few.
This year, the lineup will include Weezer, Jeff Beck, OK Go, John Fogerty, Norah Jones and the Flaming Lips - some veterans of the festival, others playing it for the first time.
Bonnaroo has been releasing its artist roster in dribs and drabs through Twitter, MySpace and its own Web page, with some artists confirming their participation independently. But as Rolling Stone observes, the slow release has allowed some artists - and non-artists, for that matter - who aren't playing the festival at all to tweet that they are performing.
The full lineup will be released Tuesday night. Tickets for the festival, set for June 10-13, are now on sale.
Update, 10:30 p.m. ET: Other acts playing this year's festival include the Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, the Dead Weather, Jimmy Cliff, the Avett Brothers, Tori Amos, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, GWAR, the Melvins and They Might Be Giants, according to Bonnaroo's official site.
When I was a broadcast journalism major at the University of Illinois, my friends and I would take off for long weekends and criss-cross the country to the closest Phish and Grateful Dead shows. You never knew when a magical moment was going to happen. Seeing the rejuvenated Phish come back from their extended hiatus and have a blast jamming with one of the band's boyhood heroes - Bruce Springsteen - was an instant classic. (See photos from the festival here.)
This is the seventh Bonnaroo for Stephanie Katsaros, who attended school in what we call "Chambana" (Champaign-Urbana) the same time I did. A few years ago Stephanie quit her job as a radio producer at WCKG in Chicago, and traveled to South America, North America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. Last night left her and her boyfriend nearly speechless.
“Phish as a backing band for the Boss singing 'Glory Days'?! The only thing that came close to that was him walking into the crowd. Bruce Springsteen crowd-surfing Bonnaroo!”
We've been attending Bonnaroo for some time, and our great friend Robert Kwon from Southern Recording has helped us record it since 2005. Robert has two day jobs working for an electrical distributor, and also works with his family making upholstery, not to mention a bit of moonlighting as a Korean BBQ caterer extraordinaire. But he also makes time to see Phish.
Before meeting us here, Robert took some vacation time to go to Asheville and Knoxville on the Phish Tour. “I started seeing them in college, and I had to go meet all my dear friends to celebrate,” he said.
This was John Appleman’s first trip to The Roo, and first time seeing Phish. He traveled from the Quad Cities area - Moline, Illinois - to hang with his uncle and finally get to see Phish. “I finally got to experience the crazy roller coaster ride everybody has been talking about,” he said. He’s hooked for life. Have fun at Rothbury, John.
We look forward to sharing fascinating interviews and intimate performances with some of the most talented artists on earth. We hung with The David Grisman Quintet, Jenny Lewis, Allen Toussaint, The Mars Volta, Ani Difranco, Grace Potter, Gomez, Bela Fleck, Warren Haynes, Andrew Bird, Bon Iver, Femi Kuti, King Sunny Ade and TV On The Radio, among many others.
Stay tuned to CNN.com/Showbiz all summer to see more Bonnaroo highlights, and see what’s on the minds of your favorite artists.
– Jason Morris, CNN Producer
Bonnaroo 2009 came to a fitting close Sunday night, with epic jam-band Phish enthralling fans well into the crisp Manchester, Tennessee, night – its second headlining performance of the four-day music and arts festival attended by an estimated 75 thousand people.
The band played two electric sets - highlights of the first included “Punch You In The Eye,” “Tweezer” and “Character Zero.” Saturday’s headliner, Bruce Springsteen, joined the band for a three-song jam to close out the first set. Guitarist Trey Anastasio introduced Bruce as his “boyhood hero” and the two traded licks throughout rousing performances of “Mustang Sally,” “Bobbie Jean,” and “Glory Days.”
After a break, the band returned to play a looser set – including a face-melting “46 Days,” and a spacey, psychedelic cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Rock N Roll,” and closed the set with “Suzy Greenburg” and “Tweezer Reprise.”
Phish’s show capped of another day of diverse performances.
Hip-Hop artist Snoop Dogg, backed by a full band, delighted the massive crowd, drawing the biggest applause during classic-Snoop tracks “Gin and Juice” and “What’s My Name.” Other set highlights included a House of Pain cover of “Jump Around,” and “Lodi Dodi,” with earlier What Stage artist Erykah Badu.
Badu, sporting a hooded Public Enemy sweatshirt and shades that covered most of her face, played a low-key set, after taking the stage 37 minutes late, but still managed to soothed the crowd with her infectious blend of chilled-out grooves, hip-hop and soul.
Other notable performances included Band of Horses, Merle Haggard, Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, Andrew Bird, and Citizen Cope.
Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band thrilled the crowd Saturday night during a headlining set of heartland-inspired anthems at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.
The big question going into Saturday night – at least in my mind - was why would The Boss want to play Bonnaroo?
He has a legion of fans who’ll fill any arena in the country, so why play a festival crowd instead of one that knows all the words to "Rosalita?" After seeing the band play a 28-song set just shy of three hours - I think it has to do with passion.
Bruce in particular seemed to relish the challenge of playing a different kind of venue – just the band’s second-ever festival performance.
Here’s a man, nearing age 60, who believes so deeply in the power of rock and roll to inspire, and seemed determined to will that belief on Bonnaroo, telling the audience “we need to build a house together.”
Drenched in sweat, Bruce wowed the audience with a relentless enthusiasm and showmanship - throwing his guitar to his roadie, climbing onto the piano, and taking requests from hand-written signs from the crowd – including “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Bruce told the crowd “It’s too f-ing hot for Santa!” before launching into the roaring sing-a-long.
The rest of the E Street Band was equal to the task. Max Weinberg’s 18-year-old son, Jay, took over on drums during “Radio Nowhere” and finished the stellar second half of the show. Springsteen’s son, Evan, would later join the band on guitar.
The struggling economy was not far from Bruce’s mind. He spoke to the crowd about seeing “hard times” across the country – and played up that motif during blue-collar songs “Working on A Dream,” “The River,” and “Youngstown” – and played a 155-year-old Stephen Foster song “Hard Times Come Again No More” during the first encore.
The band closed with back-to-back tracks off "Born in the USA" - “Glory Days” and “Dancing in the Dark” - the later of which Bruce invited a woman wearing a green “I Love New Jersey” T-Shirt on to stage to dance.
Overall, a stunning, emotional performance, and the best I’ve seen at Bonnaroo thus far.
Coming in a close second was Wilco, who like Bruce, drew from their rich catalog of material to mesmerize the crowd - including four songs of their upcoming seventh studio album, "Wilco (The Album)."
Frontman Jeff Tweedy played coy with the audience – telling them “it doesn’t matter if you boo tonight. It will sound like you are yelling Bruuuuce!” And guitarist Nels Cline channeled "Marquee Moon"-era Television to power the band through soaring performances of “Impossible Germany,” “California Stars” and “Spiders (Kidsmoke).”
Other performances Saturday night included Ben Harper, moe, MGMT and Nine Inch Nails – during which Trent Reznor told the audience this would be the group’s final U.S. performance.
Sunday promises another diverse and lineup - including Okkervil River, Merle Haggard, Erykah Badu, Andrew Bird, Snoop Dogg, Neko Case and the second headlining set from Phish to close out the festival.
Check out these great aerial photos over Bonnaroo on iReport.com. And follow my adventures at Bonnaroo on Twitter.
Here’s a quick update from the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.
So far Saturday belongs to Bon Iver, the project of indie folk singer Justin Vernon, who just wrapped a rousing set of beautiful, soulful melodies mostly off the band’s standout debut album For Emma, Forever Ago, much of which was recorded in a remote cabin in Wisconsin.
I would haven’t necessarily used the term “rock” to describe the tortured singer/songwriter I if hadn’t just seen it with my own eyes. The 4-piece band took the stage with 2 drum kits and a standing snare drum.
Jamaican reggae pioneers Wailing Souls were the first to grace the main stage today, playing a mix of roots and dancehall-style tracks from throughout their considerable career – more than 20 albums released since the 70s – but the highlight was a funky cover of The Doors’ “Love Her Madly.”
And late-Bonnaroo addition - singer, author, and restaurant-chain mogul Jimmy Buffett - played a set of fan favorites with Ilo and the Coral Reefer Allstars. In case you’re wondering, Bonnaroo has plenty of “parrotheads,” and “landsharks” too. Buffett fans came out in force early Saturday afternoon, spilling well beyond the Which Stage field.
A great start for sure, but the night is just getting underway. Still to come – Of Montreal, Decemberists, Wilco, and headliner Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band before giving way to a late-night lineup including Nine Inch Nails, Ben Harper, and MGMT.
Stay tuned to the Marquee Blog for more updates, and you can also follow my exploits on Twitter.
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