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Bonnaroo Beat 2003

Published: 2003/06/05
by Dean Budnick

‘Man, What Are We going to Do’: A Interview with Robert Randolph & The Family Band

Robert Randolph & the Family Band made quite an impression at last year's Bonnaroo. As Robert explains in this interview, the reverberations cross hemispheres. But first a quick question about the Relix 30th Anniversary Celebration…

This Friday [June 6], a week prior to Bonnaroo, you’re going to play the Relix 30th Anniversary show with Gov’t Mule. What are your thoughts on that?

RR- I like Relix. They've helped us grow and gain fans and supported us from day one. So to support them on their anniversary, it'll be fine night, especially with Warren Haynes. I guess we're going to do a couple of songs together. He's probably going to play on our set and I'll play on his and we'll see what happens.

Okay let’s move on to Bonnaroo. Thinking back to last year, what were your initial thoughts upon hearing about the festival?

RR- I remember when they told me and I found out all the bands who were going to be there, I thought it was going to be pretty crazy. I thought I better do some heavy praying before I go up there. [Laughs].

What about from the stage. What were your impressions?

RR- Man, nothing tops that since I've been playing music. Bonnaroo is so far superior. The whole year after that, everywhere we went people would say, "Wow we saw you guys at Bonnaroo. Bonnaroo, Bonnaroo." It became a band joke, we don't want anybody telling us they saw us at Bonnaroo any more. I'd be in the airport and someone would say, "Hey is that Robert Randolph? Oh my god I saw you for the first time at Bonnaroo." We just came from Australia and there we met three girls who said, "We saw you guys at Bonnaroo." And I'm like, "No no no no you didn't." [Laughs].

Along with the Family Band sets you also were a member of the Superjam. What was that like and how much of it was worked out in advance?

RR- Nothing was worked out, at least I didn't know anything. Nobody knew what was going on. Nothing was planned. There was no rehearsal, just guys coming together, starting up a jam and then going for it. That's what happens when great musicians come together, things happen.

That was cool just playing with all the different guys because most of the times when bands are working so hard that's more fun than anything. Nobody knows what's going on, nobody knows what going to be the next note and then things come together and you see everybody happy and smiling.

With many superlative players at such an event, many of whom I would assume would like sit in with your band, how do you handle that?

RR- Man you know there are so many good musicians, it's just hard. Sometimes, it's weird. There are especially a lot of guitar players who want to sit in with us and I have trouble especially at a big festival like that. I think I'm bad at telling somebody, "No you can't sit in today." You just try to tell them next time we'll work it out. Most musicians understand that because after we've done with our set we're all ready to play with somebody else and have fun with another band.

So what you expecting from this year’s Bonnaroo?

RR- I'm expecting another good time and the fans to have a good time and whatever I can give them musically because they paid to see a lot of bands pour their hearts out on stage. I'm feeling the heat because last year was great and lot of people got introduced to us and I'm like, What am I going to do this year?" Bonnaroo is the king all festivals. Everybody's there and when we play, musicians and other people are going to be watching, asking "What are they going to do?" And it's all fun but at the same time I'm wondering, "Man what are we going to do." [Laughs]

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