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Published: 2007/04/25

Ben Harper and The Decemberists Sound Off on Bonnaroo

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival offered a taste of what is to come today, via a press conference with Bonnaroo virgin Colin Meloy of The Decemberists and Bonnaroo veteran Ben Harper. Both take different approaches to the festival yet were equally excited about performing there.

‘I have a profound respect for all music, and it’s a real community of which I don’t think we’ve been a part…those boundaries are being erased,’ said Meloy. ‘I have no idea what the festival will be like, but we’ll reach out and hopefully make (the connection).’

Harper, when asked for his advice for new Bonnaroo bands, pointed out something simple and subtle that can be used at any show. ‘Give a nod to the front row. Let them know ‘I know you’ve been here all day.’ That energy will work its way back.’ Meloy stated that ‘the best thing to do is be ourselves…that’s why we’re invited.’

Both mentioned how excited they were to see other acts at the festival. ‘Our drummer will have just had a baby, but we’re going to see as many acts as we can that day,’ said Meloy. ‘Gillian Welch is a new friend of ours.’ Harper mentioned The Police, Panic, Wilco, The White Stripes, and that ‘you always have to see the Flaming Lips when they’re around.’ Harper said that one of his favorite Bonnaroo memories was hanging off a pair of speakers during Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Harper mentioned that he would love to shred with Jack White and along with Meloy raised the possibility of bringing others onstage.

‘This festival brings the US into creative balance with the rest of the world. They run smoothly, they feed the musicians, they have a great crowd, they keep Europe from kicking the ass of the US at these things,’ said Harper, who performed solo at the first Bonnaroo and with his band in 2003. ‘It’s the best musical Southern hospitality.’
The festival will return to Manchester, TN on June 14-17. Report by Taylor Hill

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