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Lewis Black: Back to Bonnaroo

Black make his point, Bonnaroo 2007- photo by Taylor Hill

At one of last year's Bonnaroo press conferences, Lewis Black discussed his inability to understand why festivalgoers would be watching a comedian when there's so much music going on around them.

During a recent interview the he recalled, "I raced out of the Comedy Tent and Bonnie Raitt was finished. It was funny, while I was onstage, I could actually hear her stuff. The way it was set up last year, the comic would hear the band playing. The audience wouldn't. I would stop and go, 'Bonnie Raitt's playing this and that's from this album and it's really good and I don't know why you're here.' And then I would go back and do my stuff."

He did find the time to see Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Blues Traveler and Radiohead. But, for the major music fan whose concertgoing experiences include The Allman Brothers with its original line up and Janis Joplin, a select few is not enough.

"This year's even worse for me. There's more people I want to see. I'm thrilled that we have a crossover now, and guys like David Cross open for bands. I've been in touch with Warren Haynes from Gov't Mule. There's this crossover in that world, which is good. I don't know why they don't have us…I'll open for Gov’t Mule, you know what I mean, 'cause the crossover's there.

"I mean, it's nice that they want to come see us and they're people who honestly come up and go, 'You know, I'm going to see Flaming Lips, Gov't Mule, and you.' And it's like, 'Me?!? I'll give you six other groups you might want to catch.'

Informed that The Flaming Lips and Gov't Mule play midnight sets against each other he responded, "I know. That makes me nuts."

Unlike 2006, Black has more free time this time around to check out the other tents and stages at Centeroo. He appears with John Bowman, Lynne Koplitz and Finesse Mithcell on Thursday and Friday, with the hope that he can hold off traveling to his next gig in order to indulge in live shows all day Saturday and much of Sunday.

"Last year I didn't really know what I got myself into," he said. But for the comic/actor/playwright known for his ranting commentaries dealing with society's nonstop stupidity on The Daily Show, he admitted that the scene at Bonnaroo felt familiar and comfortable to him.

The self-described former hippie who used to bake bread and had his fill of psychedelics explained, "What's funny about the hippie thing is that none of that stuff changed. One of the great things I like about Bonnaroo is it's like a time warp. They're selling the same things at the side of the road. They dress the same. Nothing has changed. And I kind of like that.

“I also realize what it was like for me. It was why I left Chapel Hill, in part, because I knew if I stayed there, I probably would have pretty much stayed that way. And I always wanted to go to Eugene, Oregon, but I knew if I went there I'd never leave. Why would you leave? Silly mushrooms? Perfect."

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