From the Bonnaroo Beacon: Laissez le Bon Temp Rouler
Laissez le Bon Temp Rouler
Its fair to say weve been down this path before. And yet
As Bonnaroo enters year seven there is a certain familiarity to the course of events. Wednesday tends to be a day of line checks and final coats (or nearly so). A stroll around the festival grounds on this day revealed that such efforts were indeed underway, from the performance spaces on through Planet Roo. Indeed there was something of a measured pace, mandated not only by the heat but also by a dollop of well-earned confidence, since as many of the tasks were being handled by the same individuals who had taken them on in years past.
A sense of quiet assurance was in evidence at a mid-afternoon press conference. Local politicians and law enforcement officials joined AC Entertainments Ashley Capps and Superfly Presents Rick Farman for an overview of what is to come. Farman noted that Bonnaroo has become a family gathering. This is true not only in the sense of familiar faces returning annually but also in the age range of the concertgoers, with an increasingly number of parents bringing their young children to the Roo. Manchester Mayor Betty Superstein spoke of her familys own enthusiasm for the festival, where the presence of fourteen house guests led her to prepare a wagon load of food.
Still this wouldnt be Bonnaroo without an element of novelty and flux. Some of this can be found in the line-up itself, with debut performances from Metallica, Pearl Jam, Chris Rock, Sigur Ros and many others looming on the horizon. The announcement that Kayne West would be performing a late night set from the What Stage with his full-on Glow In The Dark show provided fodder for conversation, while the identity of the SuperJam players remained a subject of intrigue. In addition, talk also turned to concert strategy with so many simultaneous performances, and particular angst regarding Fridays late night offerings (My Morning Jacket/SuperJam/Tiesto/Disco Biscuits/New Orleans SuperJam).
Much of the focus and energy on site during the day was directed to the newer structures and facilities. One of these is a U.S. postal facility, which is being created out of mud and straw in Centeroo. As evening neared, the Post Office was still in process, with numerous volunteers pitching in to assist. The building should receive much traffic over the course of the weekend, as beyond being an impressive edifice, the USPS will be offering a special pictorial postmark based around the Bonnaroo logo.
Another new construct is the Fuse Barn. The first such facility to grace the fest, the area boasts a mechanical bull and will build on a down-home country theme, with pie eating contests and calf-roping roping demonstrations, Still as befits a cable TV network, the Barn also will offer live stage feeds, a cellphone charging bar and an internet corral.
All in all, however, the new component of Bonnaroo that seemed to generate the most interest on Wednesday was Something Else New Orleans. This area will present a range of musicians, photos, food and drink with Crescent City origins. Something Else New Orleans also will have a charitable component, with a five dollar donation required at entry to help support a number of New Orleans based charities.
As evening approached, Ashley Capps was on his way to visit Something Else and beamed as he discussed it. Its not right to call it a tent, he noted, its so much more than that. It has the vibe of a classic New Orleans juke joint.
Then, just before moving on, Capps paused, smiled and added, Im just so excited, were going to have a good one this year.
This sentiment prevailed all around the festival grounds on Wednesday, as Bonnaroo certainly has shaken off any seven year itch.
Laissez le Bon Temp Rouler.
Playing It Cool: NOLA at the Roo
By Randy Ray
We really want you to feel like youve stepped off the farm in Manchester and right into an authentic New Orleans joint, says Paul Peck of Superfly Presents. For the second straight year, Bonnaroo will create a specialized environment entitled Somethin Else. The ante has been upped even further after 2007s successful partnership with Blue Note Records, which yielded the initial incarnation of Somethin Else, as a jazz club.
In 2008, Bonnaroo has created a venue with a spotlight on the rich history and inspired culture of New Orleans and Louisiana. Somethin Else New Orleans features an outstanding collection of musicians from the Big Easy as well as an ideal setting capturing the regions best flavors, sounds and personality. Weve got an amazing cross-section of New Orleans talent, says Peck. These artists thrive on impromptu collaborationsomething real music fans, Bonnaroo fans in particular, really dig.
The venue is fashioned after famous New Orleans clubs like the Maple Leaf and Tipitinas, and will also offer regional food and beer, air conditioning and the Nawlins atmosphere within an authentic setting. That attention to detail has been honed to the finest degree as Bonnaroo attendees will be able to soak in the Louisiana tableaux while listening to the states native musicians deliver the improvisatory goods.
They say that New Orleans is nicknamed The Big Easy because it is really quite easy to overindulge in a city that offers so many distinct pleasuresbeer, Mardi Gras, jazz, gumbo, seafood, jazz, booze and musicians at the top of their game. The list of artists playing in the Somethin Else club is an all-star assemblage of Nawlins finest: Porter-Batiste-Stoltz, Anders Osborne, Ivan Nevilles Dumpstaphunk, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Henry Butler and the Game Band, Walter Wolfman Washington, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Soul Rebels Brass Band, Big Sams Funky Nation, and Morning 40 Federation. And, lest one forget, all within an air-conditioned tent.
Youre going to really feel that New Orleans spirit and vibe as soon as you walk into the venue, says Peck. We will have a wooden fence to fence in the courtyard areait is almost like a Maple Leaf-style touch, but a lot of New Orleans clubs have that, too. Its a place that you can decompress when youre watching a show. And what better way to experience New Orleans, when one cant quite get to Louisiana, than a trip to Uptown NOLA via Tennessee, and a chance to see some of the best jazz musicians in the world? New Orleans is such an amazing place, in general, but particularly, when you talk about seeing music, says Peck. Theres no better atmosphere. There are so many great bands and artists, but, not only that, it is really the ideal setting because there are so many great clubs. You can feel the history in the air.
And that long history of New Orleans music has, ironically, been present in the blueprint created by the founders of the Bonnaroo festival since the inaugural year in 2002. Superfly was founded in New Orleans and three of the four founding members went to Tulane University. Now they also will be giving back to that community as Somethin Else New Orleans will benefit charitable groups via a donation upon entrance, including New Orleans Musicians Clinic, New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, New Orleans Habitat Musicians Village/Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, and Tipitinas Foundation.
Bringing the history, sounds, cuisine, energy, and charitable spirit of NOLA to Bonnaroo appears to be a match made in festival heaven as one gets the best of both statesTennessee and Louisianawithin a very comfortable and appetizing environment. Theres really nothing like New Orleans, says Peck. Somethin Else is going to be the full on experience, New Orleans through and through. Were going to have New Orleans vendors serving up some really tasty New Orleans food. Everything from the pressed tin roof with ceiling fans, to low stagesimilar to what youd see at the Maple Leaf in NOLAto the courtyard where you can catch your breath and just hang for a minute out back with some friends. It is also the one place on site where there is going to be a beer bar in the venue, which is a pretty integral part of the experiencewatching Walter Wolfman Washingtons band with an Abita Amber in your hand is a great situationand did I mention it will be air conditioned?