BONNAROO : : THE BIGGEST & BEST

SUNDAY :: 6.13.04

MARC RIBOT Y LOS CUBANOS POSTIZOS


Bonnaro 2004 by Jeremy Jones
While walking up to That Tent at noon on Sunday, I racked my brain for all I thought I knew about Ribot. I remembered that I had heard of him playing as a guest of MMW on more than one occasion. I knew that he worked with Mr. Trey Anastasio on Surrender To The Air, and I think I had even heard about his work with both Elvis Costello and Tom Waits back some years ago. Obviously, the group is headed by Ribot. He is the vocalist (though it seemed that many of their songs were instrumentals) and the only guitarist. Anthony Coleman sits to Marc's right, and he plays the keyboards. Los Cubanos Postizos contains two percussionists, Eddie Bobe who keeps the beat with the standard skins, and EJ Rodriguez who works the hell out of the bongos and other devices. The quintet is rounded off by Brad Jones on the stand-up bass.

Now I don't know any of the songs he played, but I know that they got me and about 1,500 other people grooving in the early afternoon. You could say the band's sound is Latin-like, but to tie their style down to any classification or label severs its brilliance and loses sight with its uniqueness. I have never seen anyone hold a guitar the way Ribot does. He sits when he plays and arches his back right over the neck of his guitar. I would say that his eyes are only about three inches away from the fret board. His control of the instrument is a microcosm for how he leads his band. He speaks with his eyes to Eddie, EJ, and Brad, to control both the tempo and the volume. I would say that about nine songs in total were played during the set.


Mud Love by David Vann
Midway though the performance, Ribot didn't want to pass up his opportunity to pay a tribute to the recently deceased Ray Charles. His eulogy to us all was very brief. His speech could be paraphrased as such:

This is a tragic passing for us all amidst a time of horrible daytime television.

I don't know the name of the set closing song. What I do remember about it was how EJ Rodriguez didn't have a coronary banging those bongos. And as he really got cooking near the climax of the beat, he started singing at the same time. How he did that, I have no idea. The crowd, the band, and especially Ribot stared at EJ with jaws dropped. It was nearly 100 degrees and it appeared that EJ had four hands moving at light speed. Not to be outdone though, Ribot trumped him by laying down some incredible progressions on the guitar. It sounded like a mix between two mariachis and a Dick Dale-inspired surf guitar riff. If I ever get the pleasure of making it to another Bonnaroo, I will do all I can to seek out some musicians I am not too familiar with. Marc Ribot Y Los Cubanos Postizos helped me discover the real meaning of Bonnaroo. Personally, this set was the highlight of my experience of Bonnaroo '04.

-Mark Oxborough


DONAVON FRANKENREITER


Mud Fun by Jeremy Jones
Donavon Frankenreiter appeared to be right at home in the festival atmosphere and muddy weather of Bonnaroo, showing up for his afternoon show with a ripped shirt and mud all over his clothes. Even before he started touring with music, Frankenreiter was accustomed to traveling around in cramped quarters on surf trips and camping in all kinds of weather. Thanks to the help of his buddy Jack Johnson, music fans have accepted Frankenreiter with open arms but all this adulation would've been subject to change if he didn't bring it live. Smiles on the faces of those in the tent combined with the gentle swaying of the crowd and steady bursts of smoke proved that Donovan is the man ­and this summer's tour with Jack Johnson and G. Love & Special Sauce is going to be fun.

-Forrest Reda


moe. :: Bonnaroo 2004 by David Vann
MOE.
As usual, Warren Haynes was everywhere, playing with Gov't Mule and The Dead, but moe. was the busiest band at Bonnaroo. The venerable East Coast jammers dropped in on Umphrey's late night set and played a rain-delayed set at the Sonic Stage. The band really shined on the main stage Sunday afternoon, drawing a huge crowd and ripping through a set of classic moe. Keeping the masses splashing through mud puddles and sand bars that comprised the main field, playing Frisbee in the goop in the back or lounging with beers in lawn-chairs, it was fur for all at moe... muddy, hot, and perfect. A golden cow sat in the front of the stage and the boys were at the top of their game. Highlights included "Okay Alright" and "Seat Of My Pants" as well as an epic, 20-minute "Rebubula" that closed the set, complete with a beach balls distributed by the band. The crowd wanted more moe., but the band left, graciously thanking the festival's organizers and fans. Al came back onstage, but he just wanted to take a picture of the huge crowd. As the only band to play all three incarnations of Bonnaroo, here's hoping moe. is back next year too.

-Forrest Reda


David Byrne :: Bonnaroo 2004 by Grace Dunn & Adam George
DAVID BYRNE
I'll tell ya what, David Byrne is the shit! I don't even want to consider where any of us would be without him. What the hell would have happened to music if the Talking Heads weren't putting out records in the '80s? Now that's a scary proposition. If one looks back over Byrne's astronomical and still blossoming career, it's downright amazing to realize how much ground this genius has covered. From nervous twitches and new wave pop to polyrhythmic worldbeat, highly underrated guitars, and some of the most intelligent rock ever put down, there appears to be nothing that David Byrne can't do on stage. And on top of it all, he only gets better with age. Every time I see him I'm astounded at how well he ages. Better than a fine wine, Byrne is the smoothest, coolest cat around. His voice is full of life and capable of showering huge crowds (as he proved at Bonnaroo) and his guitar playing still bites when needed. For the massive muddy crowd in Tennessee, David Byrne gave up a few newer arrangements but focused on what all seemed to desire--the classics.

David Byrne :: Bonnaroo 2004 by Adam George & Grace Dunn
"I Zimbra," "Naive Melody," "And She Was," and "Once In A Lifetime" all received favorable treatment, not too daring, but solid and ever so fun to dance and sing with. Of particular note was the "Psycho Killer" featuring a cool violin section and one of the more expansive guitar sections of the set. Capping of his classy set, Byrne busted out "Life During Wartime." Of course he did. The vibe during David Byrne was about as high as I witnessed all weekend, and this was coming Sunday night, after deluges of rain had certainly thinned out the crowd. Something about Byrne dancing, singing, and leading his rock solid band (equipped with a full string ensemble) through some of the best songs ever written was enough to bring all who were fortunate enough to be there to the next level.

-The Kayceman


Medeski Martin & Wood :: Bonnaroo 2004 by Adam George
MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD
The storm clouds were already rolling in when Medeski Martin & Wood took the stage, so the trio of living legends wasted no time laying down some jazzy, highly-technical, and utterly head-bopping beats. Robert Randolph's pedal steel was set up onstage, creating a ripple of excitement that crested when the legend in the making joined the band. "Shine that spotlight on Robert Randolph," Medeski said, drawing a sheepish grin from Randolph and a roar from the crowd. In the true spirit of improvisation Randolph didn't come onstage and shred, but rather found a pocket within the existing groove and added a little bit of his voodoo. The ensuing magic was cut short by a sudden downpour, but what happened before was etched in the minds of those present as fans raced over to the other Super Jam.

-Forrest Reda


Material (Buckethead & Laswell) :: Bonnaroo 2004 by David Vann
MATERIAL
After what went down with Laswell and company at Praxis Friday night I knew damn well that Material was going to be some next level shit. I had incredibly high expectations, and just as with Praxis, Material exceeded them. I wasn't sure what to expect from this ensemble, but when I saw tabla/drummer/percussion master Karsh Kale warming up, a couple of keyboards, a DJ, a few percussive stations and good ol' Buckethead I knew shit was gonna get out of hand. Back in 1993 Laswell/Material dropped Hallucination Engine, and that shit changed the way I listen to music. Sure it came at a critical time in my musical development, but please take my word when I tell you to simply go out and buy it if you don't already know it... I'll give you a damn refund if you aren't satisfied. While Praxis was assaulting, scary, and abrasive, Material was worldly, rocking, and ethereal. With whom I believe is Laswell's wife doing Indian chants and gorgeous vocal work atop the tablas, bass, BucketGuitar and keyboards, I was swimming in glory as the music washed over the crowd. There are moments in one's musical life that you know will stick with you over the years... Material was one for the ages.

-The Kayceman



Trey Anastasio Bonnaroo 2004 by Michael Weintrob
TREY ANASTASIO BAND
The moment we've all been waiting for, the pinnacle of Bonnaroo: the Trey show. Wild predictions were being made--"Dude, Phish is totally going to come out and play"--but most people were very excited about the T.A.B. performance. We were informed via the Bonnaroo program and the ol' grapevine that Trey's first set would be a performance with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra showcasing "compositions from his new solo album, Seis de Mayo, as arranged for 40 classical musicians, plus various members of his solo band." If you've heard Seis, then imagine that string arrangement times ten. I missed the beginning of this set due to thunder, lightning, a downpour, Laswell, and Buckethead, but when I arrived I found Trey conducting a full orchestra and they were playing "Guyute." Honestly, it seems this is the way "Guyute" was always supposed to be performed.

Trey Anastasio Band :: Bonnaroo 2004 by Jeffrey V. Smith
Being a classical musician myself (and an admitted Trey addict), this new direction is very intriguing to me. Trey (dressed all classy-snazzy in a nice blazer) came out to speak and he thanked the Nashville Chamber Orchestra for taking a chance and doing this music in "real time." It seems as though this is a road Trey is certainly looking forward to walking down--a musical version of himself more simmered down yet potentially more intense technically than his current self. My classical ear found the arrangements very movie soundtrack-esque but I have enough faith in Trey that with enough work and flushing out, he could become quite a fine modern composer.

Ok, bringing out the big guns now for the second set... Phish did NOT come out, neither did David Byrne or anyone else for that matter. It was straight up Trey band, all ten of them, in all their glory. They came out blazing with "Mr. Completely" and continued with songs that have become quite anticipated--"Alive Again" and "Night Speaks To A Woman" to name a few. A couple of great covers made their way in there: "The Devil Went Down To Georgia," "Sultans of Swing," and "Black Dog" to close the set featuring the scorching Jen Hartswick as Robert Plant. The climax and the end of Bonnaroo was marked by a TREMENDOUS fireworks show that lasted beyond the Trey band's encore of "First Tube." A fine way to end The Roo!

-Super Dee


Bonnaroo 2004 by David Vann

Well there it is. Another summer upon us and another Bonnaroo down the hatch. We hope you have enjoyed the JamBase account of went wend down in good ole Tennessee.

 
"It's nice to see the Ray Charles funeral supercede the Reagan stuff for a minute. I'm a much bigger Ray Charles fan."

Keith Moseley, SCI

Bonnaroo 2004 Press Conference
 

Be Sure To Check Out More Bonnaroo 2004 Pictures Here!

Special thanks to images by

Adam George
Jeremy Jones
Jeffrey V. Smith
David Vann
Michael Weintrob
Jon Schroeder
Grace Dunn

And words from

Samantha Hanford
Forrest Reda
Mark Oxborough
Jeffrey V. Smith
Super Dee
The Kayceman

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[Published on: 6/24/04]

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