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Posts from June 2014


Four days gone by too fast
Bonnaroo is over and as I unpacked my bags, swept out the tent and caught up on my sleep I can only think about how incredible my time in Tennessee was.

Before I even start to attempt to convey my time there I have to thank Triple M for sending me there and for setting me up with guest passes. To have those extra perks that come with guest passes made Bonnaroo that much more special. What special perks? Well, there was the camping area that’s not even on the map and is filled with lots of shade and free showers. Plus, a guest hospitality tent set up with a big screen live streaming the headliners; special entrances into Centeroo, Which Stage and What Stage; bleachers at the What Stage; and a back entry so we didn’t have to wait in a long line of cars waiting to enter the camping area.

I did get to see my top four acts and was not disappointed. I had a great spot for Jake Bugg’s set, where the only time he spoke was to say ‘thank you.’ Otherwise, he just performed and I swear he looked a bit unsure of how to react to all the attention from the crowd. He didn’t need to make his hour about anything other than his music.

Jack White was mesmerizing, bringing music from the White Stripes through his solo work on Lazaretto to the audience. I used the bleacher seating to my advantage and didn’t leave until the last final notes of his encore. I think he ended up going two and a half hours and kept saying if we wanted him to keep going, he’d keep playing.

Avett Brothers were as great as I expected them to be. I did spend a bit of their slot making my way through the crowd of who-knows-how-many-thousands of people to find some friends but it was hard to not dance along with everyone else as I wove around the sea of swaying bodies.

But, the best performance I saw at Bonnaroo goes to Sir Elton John who was joined on stage by Ben Folds for one song and had Two Cellos perform with him. When I saw Two Cellos on stage I’m pretty sure I squealed just a bit. Things just fit together too well, from the visuals on the screen to the fact he didn’t spend much time talking to the audience to the Buzz Lightyear balloon launch during Rocket Man.  The only downside was that when Elton’s two hours were up, he didn’t play any encores. So after his performance, the few fireworks that were lit seemed awful lackluster.

Since Bonnaroo is filled with so much, I missed out on a lot of great music due to checking out other acts. I heard Arctic Monkeys put on a great show and that a group of people almost took out the Miller Stage after climbing on top of it. But, each day I saw four full sets from different bands that I’d never seen perform before or had even heard prior to the festival. Suggestions had me checking out St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Valerie June and the Glitch Mob.

What made Bonnaroo special was more than just the great music – it was the people I met. First, there were the camp neighbors. We had a couple who worked with a video production company that was interviewing artists (I offered to help with the Damon Albarn interview), the couple with Crazy Mountain Brewing Company who freely gave out six pack samplers, the pair who were also recipients of radio station contest, and the guys from California whose roommate worked with the company that produces the festival. They all had suggestions on what band to see and understood the pain of there never being any toilet paper in the port-a-potties. And those were just the people next to us. Others I saw in guest camping included musicians and the guys responsible for the Terminator and Point Break movie events. I can say there is nothing quite like walking past The Unlikely Candidates on your way to the shower.

Then there were the staff I saw every day as I walked to Centeroo. The security staff worked 12-hour shifts so there was plenty to time to chat. One kid who stood out was posted at the main venue entrance. He was super excited to report seeing Skrillex walking around backstage a few hours before his set. After standing in the sun for 12 hours and occasionally having to deal with angry people I would probably have wanted to call it a day. This kid instead headed to the main stage to watch shows before getting a couple hours of sleep. He and I exchanged a lot of high-fives, the unofficial greeting of Bonnaroo.

I also had the chance to spend time with some friends and get to know them a bit better.

I could probably go on about all the conversations I had with friendly strangers I encountered, but I won’t. The word friendly though barely covers what I encountered at Bonnaroo. Maybe it was something in the water, but people seemed to be a bit nicer to each other at the festival; they looked out for each other. If someone was sleeping under a tree, you merely walked around them and let them be. You could always start a conversation with anyone by asking what performance they enjoyed the most, who they were most looking forward to seeing, what their opinion of Kanye was, or if they could hear Skrillex’s performance from their campsite.

So as I adjust back to regular life where you don’t randomly high-five strangers or run into musicians hanging out near the artist hospitality area I can only think that this won’t be my last Bonnaroo. Because I too hope to one day where a shirt with #Bonnagrannies  printed on the front.


 
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It's all happening - I'm going to Bonnaroo
Me and Jamestown Revival, who will be in Madison Tuesday night. They��
You know how sometimes something seems too good to be true? A few weeks ago I learned that yes- sometimes it can be true. I entered the Triple M Bonnaroo Backstage Blogger contest and never thought I would win. I mean, there must be thousands of people who would enter.

Luck must have been on my side because Wednesday morning my friend Jason and I are headed to Tennessee for four days of music and camping.

You may be wondering why I signed up for the contest. First of all, I like music. I try to get to a show at least once a month. It can be a local band, regional group or a national touring act. Basically, the joy of seeing live music keeps me going to shows. I can have fun whether I am there with a friend or alone, although let’s face it; you’re never really alone when you’re at a concert.

I also wanted to take a vacation. I’ll be taking off five days from work for Bonnaroo. Everyone needs a vacation and the last time I took a trip was last year and that was a day-trip to Chicago.

But mostly, it’s about the music.

Since May 22, when I learned I won the contest, I have been researching who was performing. Let’s just say, the list was a bit overwhelming. Thankfully I made a decision that I was going pick four can’t miss acts – Jake Bugg, The Avett Brothers, Elton John and Jack White. If you haven’t listened to Jake Bugg I highly recommend it. He’s from across the pond and puts out some great music.

And Elton John – I mean what can be said that already hasn’t been? Personally, I hope for a giant Tiny Dancer sing-along among the crowd.

There are a few other events I would like to check out while there like Craig Robinson at the Comedy Tent and the 2 a.m. showing of the original Friday the 13th.

People say Bonnaroo is a marathon so I hope I can avoid my desire to see everything the fest offers. I want to remain laid back and just go with the flow. And get some amazing pictures to share with as many people as possible.

Since we’re camping I’ve gone into over-prepared mode. Some people might just grab a tent, some essentials and be done with it. I’m more like ‘hey, I better pack this because I just might need it.’  Thankfully, my parents had most of the camping supplies. When I was  a teenager my family started going camping in tents. In the last 15 years we changed from tents to a pop-up camper. I’m guessing I’ll probably be a bit uncomfortable but who needs a mattress when you’re going to be too tired from a day of fun to worry about comfort.

Even as a write this, I can’t believe it’s actually happening. I’ve been counting down the days but I’m still not convinced this is real. Is it possible for one person to be this lucky?

So big thanx to Triple M for sending me to Tennessee. Now, time to finish packing (and double checking) and trying to get through two days of work before I leave on my adventure.

Photo: Me and Jamestown Revival, who will be in Madison Tuesday night. They’re also going to Bonnaroo to perform.
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