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Columns > Annabel Lukins - Both Sides of the Rail

Published: 2007/06/26
by Annabel Lukins

Roo Hoo

Oh the Roo, how I do love thee6 years and counting, theres no place Id rather be (wellat least for a week in June). When Sting greeted everyone with a Hello, Bonnaroo, Tennessee, I turned around and took in the 80,000 fans around me and thoughthes right; weve all created a city to live in for the weekend.
I love my job at Bonnaroo. I book, manage & emcee the Sonic Stage in the middle of Centeroo. After the bands are booked for the festival, I contact them to play an additional 30-minute set on a much smaller, more intimate stage. This year, our star-studded line-up filled the little Sonic Village and left fans in tears sharing with me that they love my stage more than any otherstalk about warm fuzzies!
Friday was filled with rare appearances. The humbly talented Kyle Hollingsworth agreed to an interview coupled with some tunes if I would conduct it. He was fabulous! Unknown to most fans, musicians may be comfortable getting on stage and performing, but sharing their stories and histories isnt always easy. I take great pride in having Kyle agree to our little experience.

Later that day, the sound bleed of Michael Franti & Spearhead from the Which Stage near by was glaring. But when I heard him yell Im heading over to the Sonic Stage after this, I got as giddy as a schoolgirl who was just told the best secret ever. Im sure that most of you have seen a Spearhead show, but have you experienced Michael solo acoustic? Spiritually uplifting doesnt even come close to describing his powerful presence and pure beauty. From my photo, you can get a glimpse of how many people were taken with him. I am a better person because of his friendship.

Ive gotta be honest, Tool doesnt really do it for me. Now, I do love dark music, but I just wasnt in the mood or frame of mind to deal. So when my entire team wanted to watch the show, but there was still work to be done, I told them to go for it and Id finish up. The job was to pick up Billy Martin & John Medeski and take them to their CD signing. They are both friends of mine, and since Im usually working when I see them, I jumped at the chance to spend 30 minutes with them. So we laughed and talked all the way to the signing. I waited for them to finish, and then I asked if they would sign me. We giggled and shot this cute photo instead.

Marc Ross from Rock the Earth books the Solar Stage and had many panels throughout the weekend about environmental issues. He wanted Warren Haynes on his stage. I wanted Warren to perform acoustic on mine. Im fortunate to have a great relationship with Warren. Plus, Warren was going to do a signing afterwards at the CD signing tent right next to my stage. So we combined the two and Warren was at the Sonic Stage!

After Hot Tunas set, Jorma came and performed with his mandolin player. This is a perfect example of how special my stage can be. He came from a huge rock show in the tent, then came and stripped down acoustic for a totally different vibe.

I will always and forever love the North Mississippi Allstars. Ive been working with them since the very first Bonnaroo. Chris Chew is about as adorable as they come. And he makes cute jokes about keeping me for his own. Chew Chew, Im getting married!

Right after my stage closed for the night, I ran to the main stage for 15 minutes of Ben Harper and captured the power of 50,000 fans.

Ok, lets get serious hereHave any of you ever seen Jimmy Herring talk into a microphone? None of us had, which is why I asked him to come talk to me. He brought Todd Nance along and we had such a blast up there! When I asked Jimmy who his influences are right now, he simply and powerfully responded, Michael Houser. Not only is Jimmy once of the sweetest musicians out there, but he is hands down one of the sickest guitar players out there. I truly believe that he has taken Widespread Panic to a new level filled with love and inspiration. It is an honor to know him and even a bigger honor to have shared this extraordinary time with him.

Ive saved the best for lastWhen I booked Ralph Stanley on my stage, my father said, Get him to play Oh Death. For those of you who arent familiar, Oh Death is a 3-minute acapella that can only be described as riveting. I asked Mr. Stanley to play it, explaining that my father had raised me listening to him. One more note, Ralph Stanley participates in about 1/3 of the Clinch Mountain Boys show. He just stands there, gloriously present, yet silent. When he came to the microphone and asked for requests. I walked into the crowd and screamed OH DEATH. He then proceeded to sing this spellbinding work of art. I took my cell phone out, called my dad, held it up and with tears in my eyes said, Dad, heres your Oh Death. Happy Fathers Day.

There ya go, folks, a Week in the Life of Annabel at Bonnaroo. I hope your heart is filled with joy reading it. Mine sure is sharing it with you. Roo Hoo is right. See you next year, Bonnaroo, Tennessee.

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