Trip Summary Calendar - Where we went and when

June 12, 2004

Hello from Bonnaroo

A quick Bonnaroo update

Currently Friday night nearing midnight, we're ending our first day at Bonnaroo. If you haven't been following along, Bonnaroo is a truly massive music festival held annually (three years now) in central Tennessee. Last year's attendance was over 80,000. This year they sold out; I haven't heard the official total attendance. This is our first time here.

While in Nashville, we heard rumors and read stories of the traffic. So we weren't terribly surprised, but still awed. Nashville is about an hour's drive from Manchester, TN - location of the festival. We thought we'd be smart and left Nashville at 8:30am on Thursday (the first performers didn't hit the stage until noon on Friday).

We finally pulled into our camping spot at 8:30pm - twelve hours after leaving Nashville. The highway drive was fine. The signs sent us roughly 17 miles further east than the closest exit to the festival. We then had a long, very slow drive, mostly through a quiet country town (Hillsboro). We have some funny stories from that stretch which we'll write up later (and post photos).

In camping terms we're "boondocking" here - we have no electrical or water hookups of any type. We're just parked in a field. We have water storage so we've been able to shower, and battery-operated lights. I've also been using an inverter in the truck to charge various batteries.

The first day of the show was great. We saw Xavier Rudd, Yonder Mountain String Band, Ani DiFranco, Bob Dylan, and Dave Matthews. Seeing Bob Dylan is my highlight so far. Dave Matthews didn't bring his own band with him. Playing with him were various other folks, including Trey Anastasio (who is playing himself later this weekend). That's quite a selection just for one day! Tomorrow's big acts for me are Steve Winwood and The Dead.

We'll have lots to write later, and many photos to post, but we wanted to provide at least a few updates. In case you're wondering I'm posting this from my battery-operated laptop using my battery-operated cell phone as a modem. Three cheers for internet access without electricity!

My only other thought - whoever came up with the idea of hosting a music festival in Tennessee in the middle of June is NUTS. It's incredibly hot and humid. If one could bottle sweat and sell it, this would be the economic boom we've all been waiting for...

Posted by Mitch at June 12, 2004 12:44 AM

Your guide to an economic boom is about as good as any suggested by the experts (and far more entertaining).

Just sent you, by e-mail, a link to today's Boston Globe article with headline: "Bonnaroo fest off to a scorching start."

Posted by: Mom and Dad at June 12, 2004 10:03 PM

Here's that Globe article:

Bonnaroo fest off to a scorching start

By Tom Kielty, Globe Correspondent, 6/12/2004

MANCHESTER, Tenn. -- To come upon the Bonnaroo music festival is initially disconcerting. There are over 90,000 fans of all kinds of music, though they wear their hippie stripes proudly. And sure, Trey Anastasio's presence with the Dave Matthews show that was billed as "Dave Matthews and Friends" did a lot to soothe folks of all ages who had waited in some cases as long as six hours to get on site yesterday. But they all exuded a level of patience and humor that makes this event not only noteworthy but notable for its easy accessibility to great music.

Matthews and his pals were easily the day's biggest draw, and a stomping version of the Band's "Up on Cripple Creek" delighted fans, who in many cases had woken up to Mexicali rhythms provided by Los Lonely Boys.

With six stages of music, in addition to a comedy tent and assorted sideshow distractions, the biggest challenge in the 90-degree heat was what to see, and when.

Did you go and romp along to the bluesy rock of the Black Keys or check out the gorgeous country-tinged vocals of Neko Case? Does the fact that Wilco -- with a shaggy haired Jeff Tweedy leading what was often a four-guitar attack -- was able to draw nearly 6,000 fans mean the art-rock crowd has abandoned Patti Smith, who played at the same time? Such are the wonderful mysteries of Bonnaroo, where the fan is left to take it all in over 700 acres of music, art, and campsites.

The first day's highlights included a wonderful dusk set by Gillian Welch, whose gorgeous heartland melodies captivated a crowd of 3,500. Earlier Chris Robinson and his New Earth Mud had entertained an even bigger crowd despite playing at the same time as Bob Dylan who was on the main stage. Robinson's set was a wide-ranging while Dylan continued his "Never Ending Tour" with yet another show that found him playing keyboards. In the midst of it all, Ani DiFranco delivered a typically powerhouse performance.

With 28 artists playing the first day of this three-day jamboree (over 80 acts will play before the event wraps up) the tone was set for a remarkable weekend of music.

Posted by: Mitch Cohen at June 13, 2004 08:01 AM
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