Words by Dennis Cook
Images by Dave Vann & Pamela Martinez

Bonnaroo 2006 :: 06.16-18.06 :: Manchester, TN

Planet Roo by Pamela Martinez
Bonnaroo is a temporary city, something slipped from the imaginations of Jules Verne and Jimi Hendrix. It fills the Tennessee landscape for a brief, happy time with ferris wheels, flowering fountains, and dusky children moving to a multi-hued, ever-shifting soundtrack. Equal parts imagination and reality, this festival gathers the hard work of thousands into a spectacular party that also tries to honor the earth we dance upon. Each year gets smoother, adding more options as the old routines become smooth like clockwork. What follows is a flipbook of images and impressions from this year's festivities. There's no way to touch upon it all. Bonnaroo is too vast, challenging, and diverse to hit every moment. Each of the 80,000+ attendees took a slightly different route through the thick, summery pathways, finding their own reasons to spin beneath starry skies.

The Load In
I stopped counting at 30 churches as I traveled the back roads of rural Tennessee. I passed dilapidated general store signs and cars on blocks. One banner announced, "God wants spiritual fruits not religious nuts," where another a few miles later asked, "Have you been washed in the blood of Jesus?" Having the question appear next to a billboard for a water park made me chuckle.

Bonnaroo 2006 by Pamela Martinez
The physical scale of Bonnaroo is monumental. That's always the word that springs to mind as I crane my neck upwards to follow the lines of steel that make up the five main stages. 'Monumental' - it sprung to mind as I stood below 20-foot tall bobble heads or a gigantic umbrella sculpture. It's one of the few times one feels glad to be small, content to be merely part of this buzzing 24-hour enterprise. Each year it gets a little bigger with an air- conditioned Comedy Tent, Internet cafes, and more club-like venues to further exacerbate any attempts at scheduling one's time. Quite unlike the places that lead to it, Bonnaroo is a modern metropolis as envisioned by carneys, with plenty of bread and circuses to distract the hordes.

From "Which Stage" (one of the colorful Abbott and Costello-esque names for the main stages) you could hear the sound check man saying, "," as he tested microphones. For what is ostensibly a music festival, Bonnaroo asks us in subtle ways which side of this equation we choose. There were lectures and handouts on how we might make the Earth better, and even the between-song patter often tries to fuel compassion and sidestep our natural inclination for selfishness. Call it "hippy dippy" if you want. I'll just call it cool.

Bonnaroo 2006 by Pamela Martinez
With a full line-up beginning at 7 pm on Thursday, Bonnaroo is really a four-day event now. The acts this night are generally not as well known but therein lies the huge potential for happy surprise – a defining Bonnaroo trait. As the sun slipped below the skyline Thursday, everyone hugging shade and guzzling water like Foreign Legionnaires emerged with a sigh. Huge black smoke rings, like the exhalation of some hill giant, floated above us at twilight, courtesy of the Fire Garden folks that lit up our nights. Couples stirred in their hammocks outside the VW Garage, a new addition this year where anyone with some musical chops was encouraged to jam in the makeshift garage complete with thrift store couches and a refrigerator. Just walking around one feels a tickle in their pleasure center, the whole landscape designed to outwit the constrictions we bring in. Through abstraction and organic non sequiturs, Bonnaroo invites us to play, albeit responsibly, for days on end.

Make with the Laugh Laugh
Journeys that begin with laughter are often blessed. That in mind, I started my own revels with a luxurious sit in the Yet Another (Comedy) Tent. The lines to get into this calm oasis stretched out like an amusement park ride the whole weekend. And it wasn't just the lure of cold air that brought 'em in. The organizers really beefed up the line-up this year with major talent like Lewis Black, Patton Oswalt, Demetri Martin, and the Upright Citizen's Brigade. Strangely, the stage set was a barn door, which I was pleased opening MC Vic Henley found as strange as I did. Nothing says humor like telling jokes in front of a barn! Paintings of Charlie Chaplin and banana peels graced the walls of the otherwise tastefully decorated space.

You couldn't ask for a more primed, ready-to-party audience, and the comedians flourished in front of the sweaty, slightly toasted crowds. Things began with Henley saying, "I've been here three hours and I'm already out of pot. I gotta plan better," and the shouldn't-be-funny-but-is style of Morgan Murphy, who joked about how the Jamba Juice guy who slipped a roofie into her smoothie tried to pass it off as a "rape boost." Drugs – in all their myriad, candy-colored variety – cropped up all weekend. For better or worse, Bonnaroo is a hallucination nation but an overwhelmingly good-natured one for the most part.

White Boys With Guitars

David Ford by Pamela Martinez
The first music to hit my ears was fast-up-and-coming UK singer-songwriter David Ford. I walked in to hear him cry, "I've thrown rocks at the Devil but I won't scream down St. Peter when he won't let me in." Nice. In a short-sleeved Oxford shirt and tiny cap, Ford had the makings of a geek rock centerfold, something the squeals and coos of the many ladies in the audience confirmed. In fact, Ford was but one of many performers this year that seemed to have strong female followings, which made for a much more balanced mix of the sexes than the usual phallic assault. Ford played guitar with simple, highly effective keyboard and percussion loops, used to near U2 effect on "State of the Union," which he introduced as "for those mornings you wake up and clap your hands to your head and say, 'What the fuck is going on?'" With a gentle disposition and a gift for a clever turn of phrase, Ford is a fine addition to what he called "white boys with guitars complaining about things you can do nothing about."

The Wood Brothers by Pamela Martinez
Later on Thursday night, the Wood Brothers happily took the stage when it was "dark, cool and smoky." The pairing of the MMW bassist, Chris Wood, and his singing, guitar- playing sibling, Oliver, is quiet dynamite – a natural progression from the sound Chris Whitley and Michael Hedges pioneered, full of blues spirit and thumping rhythms. Oliver has a brightly wistful voice that recalls '70s radio kings like Gerry Rafferty. Neither Hedges nor Whitley ever had a sympathetic bassist like Chris, who plucked with thunderous authority. It's a pleasure to hear him so nakedly exposed, simmering with Oliver's strings in a way muffled by Medeski's keyboards and Martin's drums. They opened with an alluring cover of Gus Cannon's early blues classic "Stealin'." Drawing largely from studio debut Ways Not to Lose, the Brothers kept the energy high and showcased some serious songwriting chops on top of their obvious technical skill, especially "One More Day," a worthy candidate for song of the summer.

Conor Oberst :: Bright Eyes
by Dave Vann
There was a general impression that this year's Bonnaroo had a higher percentage of indie/alternative rock acts. Whether true or not, the kids getting all the ink were present, and there are few more white or more boyish than Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, who turned in one of the best sets of the weekend on Friday. His voice is like a sharp beak that pecks away the shell around us, a weapon against isolation like Joe Strummer and Shane MacGowan (Pogues). Despite his concerns that the late afternoon performance was "pretty early in the day for a rock show," Oberst and his cracking band mixed up drones with Beatle-esque sway for something captivating and diary true, a sound that, to paraphrase Bright Eyes, "wakes you up and makes you clean." What intrigues is his penchant for noisy digressions with a Shaft-meets- Metal Machine Music feel. No single description encapsulates Oberst, and he wears his compelling diversity well.

Death Cab For Cutie followed Bright Eyes, and the overflowing throng remained glued in place during the brief setbreak. Hats off to all the incredibly hard-working stagehands who made this entire enterprise run so smoothly. Major sound problems were rare, and everything flowed at an impressive speed. Live, Death Cab sounds a bit like what might have happened if XTC had continued to tour – a romantic pop swell with a pleasantly murky bottom. Like their lyrics, the music is strong but often obliquely expressed. There are powerful emotions here, but which ones (anger, fear, love, etc.) is hard to say before extended contemplation. Their needle guitars tattooed our sunburned flesh with messages that will only be clear after the scab falls away.

Ben Gibbard :: Death Cab for Cutie :: by Dave Vann
One of the nicer showings in the singer-songwriter category was ex-Soul Coughing front man Mike Doughty on Sunday morning. Shedding some of the quirkiness of his old band, Doughty offered up gigantically successful, hook-heavy pop goodness. He greeted us, "Hello, sexy people, citizens of Bonnaroovia" and later asked if we were "nice and stinky." In a better world, Soul Coughing would have been a major player, but the sweeter flow of Doughty's new material may well rectify this oversight. His smooth-as-brandy voice is very ably backed by drummer Pete McNeal (of L.A. funk institution the Greasy Beats), keyboardist John Kirby, and bassist Scott Livingston, who Doughty described as "looking like a skinny Ben Franklin with a mohawk." Led by Doughty's limber guitar, they wander well when they aren't nailing the changes with precision - elegant and sharp and just a little bit dangerous. Early in the show someone yelled something Doughty wonderfully misheard as "Dio McCarthyism? As in Ronnie James Dio McCarthyism?" Mid- set, he sent the band off for a solo section that suggested we may be looking at a worthy successor to Richard Thompson when he's ready to hand his wise, grizzled songwriter gig over to a new troubadour. "Thank You Lord For Sending The F Train" was especially effective, culminating in the lingering, "Thank you, Lord, for all the unspent love I save in a jar of money."

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks by Dave Vann
Another white boy highlight was Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks on Sunday afternoon. Malkmus' post-Pavement work is limber, rocktastic gold that shines especially bright live. On top of the fact that Malkmus is more of a songwriter and musician than most of today's flavor-of-the-months can ever hope to be, he's also got a wicked little combo in the Jicks, especially the irresistible rhythm team of bassist Joanna Bolme and drummer John Moen. In a striped nylon shirt that made him look like the teenager I first encountered in the '90s, Malkmus drew heavily from 2005's superb Face The Truth. With age, his voice has developed David Bowie's cultured growl. Their website describes the Jicks as "modern up-to-date yesterday's children," which nicely sums up their mix of '60s Burt Bacharach-ian shuffle, Blue Oyster Cult guitar thrust, and coffee-stained notebook observations. Bolme commented on hedonism around us, "We have this campsite outside our hotel room, and I need to tell you we're all going to hell." Let your imagination work out the details. The whole band took a leap into the air at the start of "It Kills," which had a boffo Jerry Garcia/Can space rock tangent near the end. The whole time I kept wondering why people don't wax poetic about Malkmus' guitar work. Full of odd angles and big amp bravado, his playing is hugely influential on a whole generation yet remains elusively unique, a sound only found in his hands.

An Overabundance of Epiphanies

Jim James :: My Morning Jacket :: by Dave Vann
The late night performances were especially strong this year. Friday I took an active circuit that took me between three very distinct vibes. My Morning Jacket continues to play with majestic force – everything good, deep, and real in rock delivered with purposeful strokes. Seeing MMJ is shockingly close to a baptismal conversion. They approach their craft with a seriousness that's breathtaking, resulting in the stunned attentiveness of the crowd during much of their show. Andrew Bird (who played his own twisty set of epic, intimate tunes earlier in the day) joined MMJ several times, adding some nice wrinkles to their well-oiled machine. The 2nd set opened with a freakin' amazing take on The Who's "A Quick One" followed by the Rolling Stones' "Loving Cup." Covers are rare at an MMJ show, but in this setting they struck just the right chord.

Brain Damaged Eggmen by Dave Vann
A few clicks away, a bona fide arms-in-the-air par-tay was exploding across a packed field where Lyrics Born, Common, and Blackalicious rang heads with authority. As with much of the reggae here, it's always strange to see stages full of African-Americans playing to a sea of buttermilk, but the enthusiasm on both sides was palpable and blessedly color blind. It's impressive to see literally thousands of arms shoot into the air on command, and the roar each time they said "Somebody scream" was deafening. One thing this hip hop triple threat brought was a pronounced sense of showmanship. As much as they want to ignite minds, they respect their role as entertainers, too.

Jon Gutwillig :: Disco Biscuits :: by Dave Vann
For all those bitching about the reduced number of jam bands (whatever that is) at Bonnaroo this year, the gloriously tangled, insanely multi-layered pairing of Umphrey's McGee and the Disco Biscuits ranged far and wide. Despite speaking two fairly unique languages, the bands cross-pollinated for a unique hybrid on Friday. The finale of Umphrey's set went off like a smile bomb, traveling through "Baby You're A Rich Man" to "Another Brick In the Wall" to "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse." Biscuits Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner replaced UM's Ryan Stasik (bass) and Joel Cummins (keyboards) starting with "Another Brick" to reprise the Brain Damaged Eggmen, their Beatles-Pink Floyd tribute band that debuted earlier this year on Jam Cruise. There's a sense of daring-do to these in-the-moment stunts. Just hitting the right marks as this huge thing careens around has to be challenging. The VERY switched-on audience at this one rode every curve with cheek-stretching smiles. As always, I walked away stunned at the general level of musicianship being displayed, and not a little charmed by two bands I can't always find my way into.

New Orleans Remembered
Having wandered journalistically on Friday, I gave myself permission to really sink into the New Orleans-themed late night on Saturday. Dr. John - the man who gave us the name 'Bonnaroo' – planned a return to his '70s "Night Tripper" character for the first time in decades, followed by a mini-set from Rebirth Brass Band, and a pre-dawn funk-a-thon from Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk - the nastiest, most politically charged thing coming out of New Orleans today.

Preservation Hall by Pamela Martinez

Even if Congress and the White House have shirked their responsibilities to New Orleans, Bonnaroo made sure no one forgot about what happened there last year AND how much more there's left to do today. Every time my energies flagged, I would stop by the Preservation Hall Cafe and recharge with a smorgasbord that represented the past, present, and future of New Orleans music. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band was the sound of Main Street, USA, an institution of bright brass and shuffling feet that made you kick your chair aside the second they started stomping. The New Orleans Bingo! Show assaulted us like clowns with a cause, fun and bouncy and not too well balanced. Liquidrone were an American cousin to Blur but with far greater sensuality. In fact, the feeling of skin and slink permeated most of the artists from the Big Easy. There's a hearty, gourmand's appetite to the New Orleans folks that inspires us to live a little more lustily.

New Orleans hit the main stage Saturday with the one-two punch of the Neville Brothers and the inspired teaming of Allen Toussaint with Elvis Costello and the Imposters. The Nevilles are the Nevilles. If you've seen them in the past decade, you have a good idea of what you're getting. And while pleasant enough, their Bonnaroo set held no surprises. Sturdy and full of bonhomie, the Nevilles have internalized a bit too much of the BBW-wine bar scene that's been their bread and butter for years.

Elvis Costello & the Imposters with Allen Toussaint
by Dave Vann
On the other hand, Costello and Toussaint hammered us with southern grit and overflowing soul packed with tight horns, menacing guitar, and one of the richest vocal blends this year. Tunes like "Broken Promise Land" off their new collaboration, River In Reverse, unapologetically force us to examine the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and our collective debt to a city that's enriched the world's artistic culture in untold ways. Costello was in particularly fine voice, one of the most readily identifiable singers in a century with genius phrasing. Toussaint was no slouch either, commanding and welcoming in equal measures, making many of us sigh during "Brickyard Blues" and "Southern Nights."

Costello pulled out a new one he'd written just Friday for a TV appearance. Predictably, it was bloody great, which helps leaven Elvis' tendency to show off his abundant talents. Sexy horns and bouncing piano from that 88-key duster Steve Nieve propelled them towards the final verse, which Costello howled with impassioned abandon, "In the name of the Father, Son/ In the name of gasoline and the gun/ Wake me up!" Elvis urged the band to dig in with phrases like "Come on and get some!" Working from new arrangements by Toussaint, familiar tunes like "High Fidelity" and "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" were given church revival bang. "Watching The Detectives" had a Kingston vibe and Mancini smoothness that practically reinvented it. Costello proved an enthusiastic entertainer, wooing us with asides like "We love you - individually and as a group." Later, he remarked, "I've never written a song with the words rock 'n roll in the title, and I've written 350,000 songs," before diving into the record shop homage "International Echo" off River. Nice to hear someone sing "Give me 7-inches, give me 12" and NOT have it be a double-entendre! Without question, this was one of the festival highlights.

Dr. John by Jon Bahr
Returning to Saturday midnight, all these various New Orleans threads seem to tie themselves up as Dr. John emerged dressed head-to-toe in dark feathers. A massive voodoo doll sat on stage, and the whole group - reportedly hand-picked just for this gig – looked as if they'd leapt from the gatefold of some rare piece of vinyl. A mocha enchantress danced as seductively as Salome throughout the simmering incantation. Full of devils that burn a candle on you, the songs captured the lazy eyed hypnosis of the original recordings but let them fly through the night air. Nostrils full of witchy woman incense, we danced dazedly, drinking in the twinkling lights and perfect half moon as "Mama Roux" made us howl happily half mad. Later, appropo of nothing, the Doctor growled, "It's going to rain. It's going to rain, motherfucker!" JamBase columnist and Honest Tune magazine publisher Tom Speed turned to me, his voice low and serious, and said, "It's going to rain tomorrow." Dr. John had called it into being, and a short burst of precipitation the next morning was merely a prelude to the downpour during Phil Lesh's set.

The unintentional parade of costumed people that passed by This Stage was a neat curiosity. Couples in fishnets and top hats made their way to the Balkan Beat Box/Bindlestiff Family Cirkus/Dresden Dolls, while freakier, more random assemblages of finery headed towards the Masquerade Ball in the Cinema Tent, where a mystery group of Bonnaroo All-Stars only reveals their identities at the end. Admittance to that one is contingent on arriving at the door costumed. The only sad part was how few folks stopped to enjoy Dr. John even for a few minutes. While not an easy grab, this music had a sultry, mysterious allure that culminated in a nasty "Right Place, Wrong Time."

G.R.A.B with Phil Lesh by Dave Vann
Across the field we could hear snippets of the Superjam, which turned out to be code for Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, and the Benevento/Russo Duo (with a little bass bombage from Phil Lesh on "Casey Jones" and "Going Down The Road Feeling Bad"). Since the festival I've heard recordings of this performance, and by gum it really does recall 1995 Phish, though the most exciting parts were the new material written specifically for this quartet.

It took only seconds for Dumpstaphunk to capture me. They combine the party politics of Parliament- Funkadelic to New Orleans funk like The Meters. "We're layers of funk. Just when you think it's as stanky as it can be it gets mo' stankier," offered bassist Tony Hall. Declaring themselves "funky as a UFO," Dumpstaphunk makes you move while probing righteous anger at the state of a world gone mad. Ivan Neville is in fine spirits, hammering his keyboards with a black-eyed ferocity. An especially hopped-up Skerik (saxophone) joined them all night, blowing like the hell child of Maceo Parker and Ben Webster. They expanded their small catalog of originals with inspired covers like Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son," a working-folks anthem ripe for revisiting. One hopes when they get around to putting together a studio album they retain the dirt in these grooves. If it's anything like what I witnessed here, it's going to be a monster that eats the wicked.

Southern Accents
"I'm Tom Petty and behind me are the Heartbreakers. We're going to have a good time tonight. I promise you that," said the leader of these gentlemen rockers on Friday. Out celebrating their 30th anniversary, they're one of the only bands long-lived enough to draw serious comparisons to The Band. They look and sound just like a rock 'n roll band should, and they've got a small mountain of tremendous songs. Always more populist than Robbie Robertson and company, the Heartbreakers have an impressive knack for knowing what connects with almost everyone. If you're going to sing with 50 or 60 thousand strangers, "I Won't Back Down" or "Refugee" work fabulously.

Tom Petty by Dave Vann
From their opening chords, this band filled the big main stage area with practiced ease. Wearing serious expressions that occasionally burst into broad grins, they meant business but still clearly have a ball. They spotlighted their early influences with heavy, impressive covers of the Yardbirds' "I'm A Man" and Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well," with Petty shaking a pair of maracas with youthful exuberance. Guitarist and co-leader Mike Campbell burned hard, reminding us throughout the night what a massively satisfying player he's grown into. "Saving Grace," a new one from Petty's upcoming solo release, Highway Companion, had a ghostly gunslinger growl that rode the John Lee Hooker style rumble well. They pulled out "Handle With Care" and dedicated it to "Wilburys wherever they're traveling tonight." While not quite the charmer that Jenny Lewis' recent version is, it nonetheless reminded us that Petty once sat at the same table as Roy Orbison, George Harrison, and Bob Dylan. That's some tall company.

Mid-set they brought out their "little baby sister" Stevie Nicks to unhinged screams of delight for the California Gypsy Queen. Campbell then released one of the sexiest riffs in rock history as the whole band put their backs into "Stop Dragging My Heart Around." Nicks then took a fantastic lead vocal on a sharp version of Petty's 1978 hit "I Need To Know," as well as chiming in on backing vocals for most of the show.

Tom Petty by Dave Vann
They've been around for so long one forgets just how many singles they've put on the charts. In that rarefied field of "bands nearly everyone alive knows," there are few more enjoyable. They always maintain an unimpeachable rock 'n roll vibe that keeps them from slipping into what the Brits call "Dad Rock." "Runnin' Down A Dream" closed the main set, and I was struck by what a flawless piece of music it is – universal yet still signature Petty and his Heartbreakers. To reach mass recognition and still maintain one's identity is rare. These guys have done it, and more than a few of us at Bonnaroo were taken aback at the power after all these years.

Thank You For Talkin' To Me Africa

Toubab Krewe by Pamela Martinez
With sleep calling me Thursday, I was captured by something in the night. In the distance, I heard Toubab Krewe ringing the life out of an electric guitar. It was like the dust of Ali Farka Toure blown into the wind to curl into my nostrils, bending my feet towards the music. Arriving slightly dazed but happy to be captured, I heard modern African forms given sinewy new body. If the players on Santana III had dug deeper into the Motherland, it might have turned out like this. Color me impressed.

On Sunday, the Refugee Allstars of Sierra Leone offered something more traditional. Touched by a survivor's grace (they met in a refugee camp during Sierra Leone's long civil war), they began with a "Compliment To The Peace" and stirred thousands with the sheer joy of being alive. With group vocals and hand percussion, they combine older African forms tempered by the more contemporary reggae coming out of the Caribbean. Being in their presence, one couldn't help but feel a profound sense of gratitude, and I made a promise to check out the recent documentary about their struggles.

Amadou & Mariam by Dave Vann
I'd long heard Amadou & Mariam were a complete delight, but nothing could have prepared me for the visceral, irresistible force that engulfed me on Saturday. Anyone who thought they were too weak from the heat to move was proven a liar by this pair of West African singers and their smokin' hot band. A strong wind led me to them, and like Toubab Krewe, I simply surrendered to the encouragement of the elements. I walked in to find Mariam petting Amadou's smooth head while singing, "Baby, I love you." The keyboards and guitars unfurled like red and orange ribbons over the tan dirt and green-brown grass. There's the skip of soukous but beefed-up with hard rock and blues. In them you hear America talk back to Africa, a reminder of music's two-way street where the root and the fruit are inextricably linked.

Good Ol' Rock 'n Roll
A great deal of the most baldly enjoyable moments this year came from bands that rocked unironically, sparking off embarrassing displays of air guitar and John Bonham style air drumming. Dios (malos) kicked it off Thursday with sleazy, surfy grind. Burbling synths, muscular guitars, and the occasional bittersweet slow-burner like "All Said & Done" kept things nicely off-kilter. Forced to change their name from dios to dios (malos) by Ronnie James Dio (now that's Dio McCarthyism!), Joe Morales told us, "We're gonna change our name back to dios four minutes from now." They offer a mature version of what Band of Horses are getting ink for lately, presented in very live (read: present) manner that proved they're just as tasty in concert as they are on record.

dios (malos) by Pamela Martinez
Tokyo, Japan's Electric Eel Shock continued to rock it balls-out on Thursday. I have a weakness for ESL (English as a Second Language) bands anyway, so a hell-bent-for-leather trio that yells things like "I can hear the sex noise" is a lock for my affections. The drummer Tomoharu 'Gian' Ito got shirtless before the preamble finished, while Aki Morimoto (guitar, voc) picked minimalist Black Sabbath chords before shouting, "I am Ironman!" They immediately abandoned Sabbath and pounded out one of their own. EES are the idea of punk-fueled metal, stripping it down to the frame and a set of fucked-up rims. Major crowd-surfing ensued during the title-tune from their latest release, Beat Me, which inspired bassist Kazuto Maekawa to climb his amp stack. With wild eyes, Morimoto roared, "This is my guitar! Can you see my guitar?" Yes, we can. Oh yes.

From a primordial slop rose Philadelphia's Marah, rounding out Thursday's rock-centric bent. Ridiculously together, Marah offered some of the best, most clearly defined music of the festival. There's an undeniable Springsteen feel to parts but the Born To Run, grease-under- his-nails Bruce with the cocksure attitude that hid a scared heart. Marah's got all that and gobs more. "We waited a long time to play Bonnaroo," said Serge Bielanko, who leads the band with brother David. "It's like a David Alan Coe song and hippies coexisting. You can pee on the grass under the Tennessee stars." They play like guys with something to prove. Besides being monster songwriters who released one of 2005's best (If You Didn't Laugh You'd Cry), Marah plays with the skill and near reckless abandon of just-gone-electric Dylan. They need to do a triple-bill tour with Centro-matic and the Drive-By Truckers so more folks can discover them. The heedless energy of "The Closer" and "Sooner or Later" sent the crowd into a frenzy that tipped over the edge when they slipped into The Who's "Baba O'Riley." A raunchy, gutbucket encore of the O'Jays' "Love Train" produced crashing joy and jumping glee. Wow.

Son Volt picked it up on Sunday. Like a megawatt machine roaring to life, Jay Farrar's boys keep getting tougher and more together all the time. In a voice that's equal parts Fred Neil and Waylon Jennings, Farrar told us they "were heading for the atmosphere," which is a perfect shorthand for the feeling they produce - that rare sense that music might break through our strata into some larger truth. Lead guitarist Brad Rice showed flashes of Izzy Stradlin while continuing to move Son Volt further and further away from their Americana tag. On an afternoon as muggy as Roger Ebert's armpit, Son Volt kicked up a glorious racket.

Chuck Garvey :: moe :: by Pamela Martinez
It's been some time since I last caught moe. , and their Sunday main stage set was great. There's no one who straddles the jam and pop worlds more proficiently than moe. Improvisation is key to their thing, but they know the power of dropping an "In-A-Gadda- Da-Vida" tease into the middle of their explorations. The pairing of guitarists Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey compares favorably with Judas Priest's K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton – hard and fast but also capable of tender eloquence. Bassist Rob Derhak sang with a Bono-esque power that caught me off guard. There's ridiculous energy and high-level musicianship in every aspect, and if Triple-A radio would just open their arms, they've got loads of hits waiting to happen. Newer ones like "BJ Pizza" and especially "Wicked Awesome" with its laundry lists of thank-yous to FM radio are primed for stadium sing-a-longs. They put on a good show and seem to be shaking up their standard setlists with fresh arrangements and leaner material. Altogether, it was very winning.

He's A Loser, Baby

Beck by Dave Vann
While it's easy to gush about most of what I heard in Manchester, there were a few clunkers, and nothing made a louder thud than Beck on Saturday. In general, I loves me some Beck. There are few more inspired lyricists today and he can work it gentle or hard with equal facility, but a turd is a turd. From the start he seemed bored and distant, winking at everything in a way that was irritating as hell. After the uniform professionalism that preceded him, it was frustrating to watch Beck and his just-alright band fart around. He played a few songs solo while the others ate at a dinner table set up on stage. He's been doing this bit on the current tour, and I've yet to see it work. If this were a 1967 Andy Warhol gallery event then maybe, but in front of tens of thousands, it served only to create further distance. During the solo section, he did half-assed versions of the Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize?" and quite rudely, Radiohead's "Creep," even though they were scheduled immediately after him. The best part of his set shouldn't have been the short movie where puppet versions of the band wandered around the festival encountering people who say things like, "The enzymes you can get from fresh fruit are, like, epic." The short did provide one of the catchphrases of the weekend ("I smell hippy"), which my compatriots and I wore out the next day. There was wrestling in bear costumes during "1000 BPM" and a decent "E-Pro" closer, but the overall taste of the experience was sour.

Twang Ain't One Thang
Hailing from Burlington, Vermont but sounding like Webb Pierce's drunken daydream, Mike Gordon & Ramble Dove filled Friday afternoon with serious honky tonk. The pedal steel and Chet Atkins-like lead lines instantly differentiated this from Gordon's Phish work. It's even a good deal different than his collaboration with Leo Kottke, though nearly as playful. Here, the singing is stronger, often conjuring the same jukebox jive as Loretta Lynn and George Jones. A funky one sounded a bit like Little Feat and gave Gordon a chance to indulge in some bass gymnastics. It's a new band, and as first impressions go, this was a mighty good one. Pure country from impure minds – you gotta love it.

Ramble Dove by Dave Vann
Bela Fleck, especially in his post- New Grass Revival years, has done a great deal to popularize the banjo with modern kids. On Sunday, he and his Flecktones played with gorgeous, slightly alien beauty. There's something hugely likeable about Fleck and his music – a complex but not unapproachable sound that never rules out anything in their easy cosmic journeying. Jeff Coffin proved himself one of the unsung heroes of the saxophone, especially in light of the fact that he's playing parts originally composed for a banjo. While I've never been fully able to absorb what all the fuss is about, I can appreciate how they connect with a large audience. They're a lighter version of what Al DiMeola or Return To Forever once offered – chock full of impeccable musicianship but friendly enough to appeal to more than record collectors.

Jeff Coffin :: Bela Fleck & the Flecktones
by Dave Vann
For straight, fire-hot bluegrass I've rarely heard better than Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder on Friday. He consciously tries to "honor the elders" like Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley (who Skaggs played with as a teen). He reminisced about hearing radio broadcasts from the '40s that were "wearin' it out" and then proceeded to take a little leather off with his band. They had such enormous good cheer that a giant in a Misfits t-shirt eventually started hamboneing like a Deliverance extra. Skaggs played "The Simple Life," the theme to his syndicated radio show, and it was clear the southerners in attendance knew every word. Bluegrass played like this is how human beings fly using only wires and wood. When they leap from the hill, their barely contained precision keeps them aloft and carries us along in their wake.

Late on Friday, Robert Randolph and the Family Band had the sun parked above them like the Raisin Bran orb, smiling down as Randolph took the pedal steel out of its country ghetto. Taking their cues from Randolph, everyone jumps and hollers with unrestrained spirit. When they're on, they're the closest modern descendent of Sly and the Family Stone. Sadly, Randolph appears to be wandering these days in search of a way to update a sound he perfected several years back. A rapper in one section smacked of the moves in contemporary Christian music to take things to the street. It's an uncomfortable marriage at best, and one hopes Randolph finds the right fit before finishing his long-awaited sophomore studio album.

Chris Thile :: Nickel Creek :: by Pamela Martinez
Nickel Creek had a baroque elegance on Friday. Using acoustic instruments, they created an alluring kind of pop that draws freely from bluegrass, the Beatles, and Bach. By tailoring things only to what they hear in their heads, it arrives without the taint of most contemporary pop, which seems designed more for advertising than any higher musical calling. Watching the hula hoop kids work their hips during this set felt like being in an independent film. The harmonies of Sara Watkins, Chris Thile, and Sean Watkins always stir me in ways I can't quite describe. The first time I felt this way was hearing Crosby, Stills, and Nash, so you have some idea of their depth. Alone, Sean has a bit of acid (particularly on tunes like "Someone More Like You"), Sara is sweet and surprisingly slinky, and Chris is a slow healing wound that will surely leave scars. Bassist Mark Schatz filled things out with booming authority and delightful fills. There's just nothing to dislike about what they do, and most of the hippies around me seemed to feel the same.

We Lucky Few
Emerging to a furious cut-up of a Pine-Sol commercial, Radiohead captivated a packed main stage, where perhaps half of those in attendance knew what they were in for. Even for those not already obsessive listeners to The Bends or OK Computer, there was unmistakable electricity in the air on Saturday night. Capable of dizzying grandeur, they can just as quickly dive into the kind of goose bump-inducing intimacy that makes people feel this is their band despite the obvious cross-cultural recognition Radiohead has achieved. Put another way, though known to millions each person loves them in their own way. That their music never sags under this weight is a testament to its creators' enduring honesty and creativity.

Thom Yorke :: Radiohead :: by Pamela Martinez
The words "lemon fresh" stuttered over a Squarepusher-esque snarl before launching into possessed opener "There There," where singer Thom Yorke opened a vein and announced, "In pitch dark I go walking in your landscape/ Broken branches trip me as I speak/ Just because you feel it doesn't mean it's there." Yorke excels at couplets like this, just a few words but they'll haunt you the rest of your days. His ability to distill the essence of hope, fear, and longing is nearly unparalleled in modern music. Later in the show during "Lucky" he sang, "It's going to be a glorious day/ I feel my luck could change." Though perhaps offered sarcastically, you could see people's spirits rise just a few inches above their bodies.

Despite technical snafus with the big screen video monitors, Radiohead played with head-down complete conviction. It's a cliché to talk about a group playing each show like it's their last, but in this case it's utterly true. There's a palpable sense of purpose to their exquisitely layered compositions, where the music matches the emotions note- for-note. Jonny Greenwood and Ed O'Brien are perhaps the most influential - yet rarely cited – guitarists in a decade. Bend an ear to the next generation coming up and you'll hear echo after echo of their strange six-string artistry.

Towards the end, a girl behind me yelled, "I like your music." The way she said it was so sincere that it cut past all the flowery expressions growing in my mind. For a band that's sometimes pegged as cold and distant, there's unbelievable warmth to their pulse. At many moments I felt as if I might split open and kiss the sky. For all the dark territory they explore, Radiohead is an amazing life force. I couldn't stop smiling during main set-closing "Karma Police" as Yorke informed us, "This is what you get when you mess with us." Indeed.

The One Drop

Harry Angus :: The Cat Empire
by Pamela Martinez
Wandering through the smoky night on Thursday, getting used to the constant disorientation and occasional grumble of collapsed revelers under foot, I followed the lines of shuffling towards what sounded like 1965 James Brown. Australia's Cat Empire vibrated with in-your-face energy, a new kid to pick up where Oingo Boingo, The Specials, and other marvelous, peculiar show bands left off. I'm fairly sure I walked in on a blazing cover of Aretha Franklin's "Save Me." What sets them apart from their ancestors is the reggae infusion they've given their soul express. Trumpeter-singer Harry Angus is a more melodious Joe Cocker who jams like a bullfight-ready Herb Alpert. His hip-swaying counterpart, Felix Riebl, is the down under equivalent of Buena Vista Social Club vocalist Ibrahim Ferrar with a touch of Jamaica's John Holt. The rest are like a party in a box waiting to be opened. Once you pull the ribbon, they explode festively all over your face. Keyboardist Ollie McGill is a dolphin flipping gracefully over ivory waves, captivating in all contexts, which is quite something given how Cat Empire grab greedy handfuls of hip hop, soul, rock, and reggae. They offered one of the chants of the festival, too: "Music is the language of us all." Amen.

The granddaddies of reggae this year were Steel Pulse. The justifiably legendary British group has been sculpting their nakedly spiritual rhythms since 1975, and their set Friday was a medicine bag made up of Nyabinghi, American blues, and No-Wave New York exploration. Far from some recreation society, Steel Pulse hums with seasoned wisdom. With gorgeous female backup singers, they proceeded to "chant the summer day." Far deeper than most of their peers, Steel Pulse honored the African roots of their genre and spiced it with edgy electricity. It's a sound that speaks of time and age in the positive ways they can temper us.

Damian "Junior Gong" Marley by Dave Vann
If he weren't Bob Marley's son I'm not sure anyone would give Damian "Junior Gong" Marley the time of day. His smooth, lazily hypnotic records aren't unpleasant but hard to distinguish from a sea of imitators (both of his father and scores of contemporary hitmakers). Without the family legacy, he's another kid drawing from roots reggae past and dancehall present. His performance Saturday further confirmed the suspicion this is a diluted version of the powerful stuff once made by Bob and the Wailers. Damian opened his show with an instrumental medley of tracks like "No More Trouble" and "Jammin'" just in case we forgot his parentage. While not the full-blown Red Hot Chili Pepper commerciality that brother Ziggy has embraced, everything is a bit too polished, and when Junior Gong tries to take it to the streets, it feels false coming from someone who grew up with his father's riches. Bob Marley was the product of abject poverty and genuinely life-threatening conditions. As such, his words on the poor and struggling emanated from a place of complete integrity. With Damian it feels like a pose.

Matisyahu by Dave Vann
I would never have guessed that a Hasidic Jew would walk away with the Reggae Lion's Mantle. Like many, I'd dismissed Matisyahu as a novelty. With his yarmulke and untamed beard, it just seemed wrong that he was testifying like Marcus Garvey. Yet when face-to-face with the man, there's little doubt you're in the presence of a prophet. What Matisyahu and his bumping band do is a pure, ecstatic form of worship. To resist it is to deny the Creator's presence, and that's something I'm always loath to do! I came in midway to find Matisyahu cutting up words like a sushi chef while his boys (guitarist Aaron Dugan, bassist Josh Werner, and drummer Jonah David) pumped a subterranean heartbeat flooded with chimes. They successfully steered into a live dub that ignited "chalices" across the Which Stage field. Dugan has the grit and flash of Wailers guitarists Junior Marvin and Al Anderson, and the low end is so thick you may want a machete and a native guide to traverse it. They relax into each piece with precision and patience. It's a lethal combination that successfully underscores Matisyahu's lead, which brings to mind Linton Kwesi Johnson and Beres Hammond. Far more powerful than anything Marley Jr. offered, Matisyahu is putting his own stamp on reggae. His is an ancient heart with modern ears, all informed by the humility of someone who understands he's a servant of a servant of God. I'm sold.

The first full day at Bonnaroo began with Robinella and the CCstringband, a roadhouse tight outfit that draws favorable comparisons to Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks. Singer Robinella has a bright voice like Iris Dement or Alison Krauss but with a jazz vocalist's dexterity. Husband Cruz Contreras guided them through delicate turns from their excellent Solace For The Lonely album as well as hard rockers like "Nobody’s Fault But Mine" that made Blind Willie Johnson smile. With violin and other acoustic instruments in the foreground, they sounded like a descendent of Dylan's Desire band, especially when the violin started spitting fire.

Bonnaroo 2006 by Dave Vann
On the way to Manchester I passed an SUV with the words "I (heart symbol) Cat Power" painted on several windows. One of the most anticipated sets of the weekend was Cat Power and the Memphis Rhythm Band on Friday, a live recreation of Chan Marshall's ridiculously appealing The Greatest. After an intro where the horns vamped and backing singers took the spotlight, Marshall emerged with a skip. This is no icy indie goddess but a full-blooded woman ready to make us sweat. There's something fleshy and succulent about the 2006 model of Cat Power. You pick up on it in the come-hither arrangements and Marshall's Rickie Lee Jones-esque dance moves. In fact, Jones isn't a bad archetype for Marshall to follow – a perennial with an impeccable catalog and a gently adventurous spirit. Only at the end did we get a taste of the old Cat Power as she strapped on a guitar for an echo-laden stroll through graveyards past. It's the mark of a great-in-the-making that Marshall proved equally adept at hot soul and painful introspection.

Michele Stodart :: The Magic Numbers
by Dave Vann
The Magic Numbers make me swoon. I'm not prone to faints, spells or any other Victorian silliness but the vinyl warmth of their high reaching voices just does me in. Saturday afternoon, beneath gray skies, they bottled all the sunshine around us and unleashed it in notes of pure light. The shuffling backbeat and bell tones of "I See You, You See Me" whisper back to John Sebastian and Brian Wilson but with a more hickory tone, and Angela Gannon is Phoebe Snow and Sandy Denny in one package. New material like "You Never Had It" was chunkier, pumped up, and garagey. At times they remind me of the sugar smack of family bands like the Osmonds or Partridges. That's no dig, especially given how easily their music goes down.

It was heartening to see one of my favorites from the '80s still walking the boards on Friday. World Party is the name Karl Wallinger has used for his varied, often unsung pop explorations since leaving the Waterboys in 1985. Working with a spare setting of mostly acoustic guitars and violin, Wallinger jumped around his catalog of undiscovered classics. Classy and a bit cheeky, Wallinger speaks in a way that makes me want to find him voice-over work. He's so natural and inviting, and his lyrics have a '60s optimism that's heartening in these cynical times. By the time he brought out the electric guitar for "Way Down Now" off 1990's tremendous Goodbye Jumbo, the crowd had grown considerably. Like Peter Case and Paul Kelly, Wallinger steadily hones his craft, releasing a new album from time to time just so we don't forget he's out there. He's comforting in a Beatles sort of way. I can't think of too many nicer things I could write about a musician.

Grace Potter by Dave Vann
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are instantly likeable festival dynamite - big and bright yet muddy like Creedence. On Saturday, they jumped on it like a hound committed to wearing every bit of meat off a bone. I watched jaws drop as Potter opened up. Hers is a voice from above with a healthy knowledge of the fire down below. I'm seriously diggin' the harder edge they've developed. There's absolutely nothing "girlie" about this now. Guitarist Scott Tournet was just plain mean (a major compliment in my book), and bassist Bryan Dondero could be a member of '70s Little Feat. It's taken a while for drummer Matthew Burr to grow on me. He has the Cro-Magnon swing of the Secret Machines' Benjamin Curtis but with a lot less finesse. Once I succumbed to his Animal (as in The Muppets) charms I figured out why he's here. Potter herself is a Hammond organ whiz, vamping like a lightly tipsy Stevie Wonder. Her songwriting compares favorably with early Lucinda Williams and Patty Griffin, whose fans would love what the Nocturnals are laying down. I'm always happy to see them on a bill - which says a lot right there – and they were in top form at Bonnaroo.

Space Cowboys
I arrived at Dungen to discover Albert King being slow-boiled over an open flame. Sweden's finest trip masters played with real heart and youthful moxie on Saturday. They passed a notebook into the crowd near the beginning, inviting us to write in our email addresses, and hoping aloud it would return to them later in the day. Dungen's leader Gustav Ejstes read the quote on the front, "Instead of saying that won't work, find out what does work and go out and do that." The newer material finds Dungen working in English for the first time, and while there's less jagged rambling it's no less engaging. When the group really got cooking, Gustav jerked around like a giddy marionette, letting his brothers tug his strings every which way. The drummer's striped shirt made me think, "So that's where Waldo ends up as an adult!" A prancing summer delight called "Festival" seemed custom made for Bonnaroo. "Panda" from Ta Det Lungt was even more locomotive in concert, big steel barreling down a steep grade with little hope of stopping. They kept the same barbaric energy in the final section, which crushed heads Kids In The Hall fashion. Yeah, Sweden!

Reine Fiske :: Dungen :: by Dave Vann
Brothers Past rattled Sunday morning with marvelously tweaked big rock. They bring it like a stadium headliner instead of the club/theatre act they are, much like the early days of Gomez. It may just be their music is too large, too ambitious, and too engaging to remain in small rooms for long. They have a varied repertoire that could appeal to fans of moe., Talking Heads, or Pink Floyd without sounding precisely like anyone else. What gets me is their weird edge, chock full of mystery noises courtesy of vocalist-guitarist Tom Hamilton's laptop digressions and keyboardist Tom McKee's messy palette. Clay Parnell (bass, vocals) and Rick Lowenberg (drums) handled the reggae and metal tangents skillfully. As solid as Lowenberg was, I was elated to hear that former Om Trio percussion demon Ilya Stemkovsky will be filling the drum slot starting in July.

Sunday, the Codetalkers dropped a space mountain of funky whomp on us. Dressed in suits (very classy), they looked ready for a Sunday service. They moved limberly as one mind through singer-guitarist Bobby Lee Rodgers' fantastic compositions. At their core, they're populist rockers making music radio should be gobbling up. Live they take it WAY out. With steely- eyed intent, they probed the possibilities of their brand new album, Now. When they delved into the blues – a form that suits Rodgers – they captured the real ache of a line like "I've tried, I've tried, I've tried." They ramble with the same knife-edge gusto as vintage Butterfield Blues Band or more obscurely, the Numbers Band (15 60 75). On a tune about Hawaii that had everyone shouting "Aloha," they hit like the Ventures swinging a nine-pound hammer. The presence of Col. Bruce Hampton (Aquarium Rescue Unit, Hampton Grease Band) may be what first put this group on the map, but increasingly this is Rodgers' show. Col. Bruce was in fine form, wrenching emotions from a slide guitar that were positively bizarre. Anchored by the rhythm team of bassist Ted Pecchio and drummer Tyler Greenwell, the Codetalkers provided ample reason why they're fast becoming a favorite of many people.

Devendra Banhart by Pamela Martinez
A major personal highlight of this festival was Devendra Banhart on Friday. Drawing us in like a slow gin fizz, the shirtless Devendra led His Band and Street Choir through a courtship of our ears. I make the Van Morrison reference specifically because in tone and appearance Banhart's crew resembles Morrison's miraculous '70s collective. A little sleepy at first, they blossomed into boisterous jubilation. Often called the Hairy Fairies, this day Devendra said they were the Tennessee Cops, an announcement with a chilly, unexplained vibe. The first section had the hypno buzz of David Crosby or the Pretty Things. An impatient dude shouted, "Do something! Make that shit work for you, son!" Banhart calmed him, saying, "Be patient. We haven't even started yet." Eventually space truckers like "Long Haired Child" and "Just Like A Child" lit up the room, but the more respectful, open-minded folks were equally charmed by the hash-chilled "Mama Wolf" that inspired a spontaneous group howl. Guitarist-singers Andy Cabic (Vetiver) and Noah Georgeson took us out on long, dusty highways where they broke our minds before putting them back together. Cabic's "You May Be Blue" and Georgeson's "Find Shelter" were standouts too. The drummer, whose name I missed, had the lanky fusion of Mick Fleetwood.

At one point they invited a member of the audience who writes songs to come on stage and play one. I'm sure this bit sometimes falls flat - where they bring up a hack or someone who freezes - but this time it provided one of the most spontaneous festival moments. The young guy they brought up muttered, "I'm really doing this. I'm playing Bonnaroo" and then launched into a sprightly political love song that began "This string was made in China. This heart was made by God." Sounding like the cousin of Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes) on a freewheeling Bob Dylan jag, the kid took his shot and made it count. By the end, Devendra and the others were clamoring along with drums and handclaps. Banhart embraces other's creativity, and his graciousness spread out in waves as their set progressed towards the closing afrobeat inspired "White Reggae Troll."

The Master Class

Bonnaroo 2006 by Pamela Martinez
I'd wager festivals like this are the only time visionary guitarist Bill Frisell ever contends with clouds of sinsemilla or beach balls passed around by dirty hands. On Saturday, his New Quartet featuring Greg Leisz (pedal steel), David Piltch (bass), and Kenny Wollesen (drums) offered all the technical grace you could want but mustered for a sorcerous haze that appealed to jazz and hop heads alike. Leisz excels at filling spaces others leave open, and he may be the best guitar foil Frisell has ever had. The crowd went wild when Frisell unleashed his strange side – something neophytes don't expect from a man who looks like a gray-haired adult Charlie Brown. Fiddling with knobs, Frisell produced a roar that sounded like a robot being tortured with a cattle prod. Neat. One part sounded like the Byrds' fever dreams, while others nodded back to Frisell's exploratory years on ECM Records. They finished with a brilliant trio of covers – a prickly, funereal take on Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" that inconceivably flowed into the Burt Bacharach-Hal David chestnut "What The World Needs Now Is Love," which in turn gave way to the Delfonics indestructible slow jam "La-La (Means I Love You)." Glorious music delivered by real pros.

Like whiskey, wine, and women, Buddy Guy is getting better with age. Sure, he's lost some of the spit and fire of his '60s and '70s barn-burning days, but the small chunk of his Saturday performance I caught told me he's picked up some new tricks. Always a marvel on electric guitar, he's become a rootsy, country-tinged master of the acoustic in recent years. The man Jimi Hendrix once skipped one of his first sold out shows in London to see has a quiet power that's only more pronounced now. Guy can whisper and make us listen in a way few performers will ever achieve. He worked it loud towards the end, but it was the gentler avenues that most grabbed me.

Betty LaVette by Dave Vann
Betty LaVette can really sell a line like "He can go to hell." The words ring true on her tongue but without undue bitterness. When she says it, you know the guy is a rat that deserves to fry. On Friday, LaVette belted it out with the quiver of one who's just barely made it through life's struggles and lived to tell about it. Instead of being overly tough, there remains a vulnerable side to this extraordinary interpreter. While the band was a bit too polished, LaVette shined especially on tunes from 2005's hard-hitting I've Got My Own Hell To Raise.

Seeing Sonic Youth on a Sunday afternoon was odd enough but the highly melodic, strikingly catchy feel of the new Rather Ripped songs was sunnier than anyone might have suspected. The conviction of this long-lived alternative giant rang loud. They continue to enthrall because at a base level they make really good music. After puzzling over the free packs of cigarettes being handed out by American Spirit, Thurston Moore yelped through a fantastic "Incinerate" from the new album. There's fewer free jazz tangents and more straight up rockin' now. Like a lot of veterans, maybe they just learned to play and don't need to wander off so much anymore. Whatever the reason, Sonic Youth 2006 is a mighty rock beast that hugs more than it hurts.

Sonic Youth by Dave Vann
Steve Earle was a man alone on Sunday. It's how many of us imagine him – well grizzled and wandering some back road. There are a lot of guys who've tried to take Woody Guthrie's crown, but it may be a man like Earle who doesn't want the damn thing who'll ultimately walk away with it. His politics and weather-beaten soul make him a natural successor, but he's smart enough to know how dangerous it is to be anybody's hero. He asked, "Who's been here all weekend?" When the majority of us piped up, he smiled, "You're some bad mother fuckers." This is a true man – the product of all his good and bad choices, the consequences of his actions etched in his thick voice. He swears marvelously, too, something I admire in folks though I probably shouldn't. After breaking a string on his guitar, he commented, "I keep fucking these things up. Too much thumb. The thing that separates us from the other animals, and I manage to fuck it up." After a moment's pause he corrected himself, "That's not true. Art is the true separator, the ability to make beautiful things." You got that right, Steve.

Dobro genius Jerry Douglas played the same stage earlier on Sunday. Douglas specializes in storytelling without words, and with a young band that watched him like hunting dogs, he told some fine tales. "We're gonna play a fast one, and then we'll play a slow one," said Douglas. It's that kind of plain-spoken understatement that's helped keep him in the studio shadows for many years, known primarily to country/bluegrass fanatics. With the commercial high profile of Alison Krauss' group Union Station, he's found a much bigger audience. His own compositions defy description except to say they swing. What they played was gentle enough for the toddlers bouncing on their daddy's shoulders but heady enough for the liner note readers. Violinist Gabe Witcher really stood out, tracing smoky trails in the blue sky with his dexterous bow. One of the coolest parts was when Douglas asked, "Does anybody remember a band called Weather Report?" Their take on ballad "A Remark You Made" from Heavy Weather stole our breath away.

Oysterhead by Dave Vann
Oysterhead is a garage band made up of world-class players. I can't escape the feeling that Les Claypool, Trey Anastasio, and Stewart Copeland are a thousand pounds lighter in this setting. Oysterhead gets them in touch with the things that made them pick up an instrument in the first place. They noodled with shit eatin' grins, reveling in their hard earned skill while trying to play outside of it. I loved how littlelike "that guy from the Police" Copeland sounds here. He's still got the best cymbal work EVER but there's less tension in his shoulders when he hits. Les looked dapper even in the blazing heat on Friday, and Trey burned like the jukebox hero we know he can be. You never got the sense they take this project all that seriously, and therein lays its appeal. At the end, Copeland said, "We're just a semi-pro band and that's all we've got. You're beautiful people, and I want to take off all my clothes and dance among you." There’s no question he'd been welcomed with open arms.

It Came From MySpace
With only a 35-minute Sunday slot, it was inexcusable for Be Your Own Pet to stammer on about running out of songs only 15 minutes in. If they truly had so little material they probably shouldn’t be scheduled on a main stage at one of the biggest festivals in the world. But BYOP is already gracing magazine covers, and has been championed by Thurston Moore, whose Ecstatic Peace label put out their debut. Shrieking things like "Get out of my skin," they're plenty snotty but not more than a few inches removed from the late '70s pop-punk sound that's come back into vogue. Sure, they've got a great name in a Sanrio kind of way but they sound and look (and don’t think for a minute that their look isn't a huge factor in their success) like THE band Seth is putting on every mix he gives Ryan and Summer.

A smartass next to me at deadboy and the Elephantmen on Sunday piped up, "I sing the lonely, white-boy blues. I'm complaining when I got nothing to complain about." It got a big laugh from everyone around him. It's sad when music can be mocked so easily. Dax Riggs (deadboy) and drummer Tessie Brunet, aided by a tour bassist, are quite the glum Sonny and Cher, announcing the song titles and then launching into them without another word. In a post-Jeff Buckley world, Riggs is suitably tormented but it rings hollow when he sings, "I've got hell in my hands." In a form fitting white beater, Brunet pounded with Neanderthal simplicity, an unsophisticated repetition of splash cymbal and snare hits. Many tunes tried for a Two Gallants sharpness and missed. At 38, I was at least 10, if not 20, years older than most of the audience, and maybe I've just listened to enough old blues 78s to feel nothing from shows of doom like deadboy.

The Final Word

Phil Lesh by Dave Vann
With the clouds moving fast overhead, Phil Lesh & Friends closed out Bonnaroo 2006. By the time they were finished, the skies would open up, drenching the barefoot children who stayed the distance. Huddled under a blanket, watching the stage through heavy raindrops, I felt this was the poetically right conclusion. It just wouldn't be Bonnaroo if I didn't get soaked at least once. Without a doubt, this is the best line-up Phil has put together since the Phil Lesh Quintet with Warren Haynes and Jimmy Herring. New Friends guitarists John Scofield and Larry Campbell shined in ways their earlier work only hinted at. Keyboardist-vocalist Rob Barraco showed his natural feel for Grateful Dead music, while drummer John Molo confirmed he’s the best percussion partner Phil has ever had. However, the standout in Tennessee was lead singer Joan Osbourne, an undulating firecracker in a pretty summer dress who led the band as much as Phil, especially in the heavyweight 2nd set. Moving like a woman ready to rut, Osbourne brought in some much needed sexual energy. She made lines like "you've got such dark eyes" on "Shakedown Street" hum with fresh, enthralling meaning. If Lesh is interested in differentiating his solo work from the Dead, then he's picked a bang-up accomplice in Joan.

John Scofield :: Phil Lesh & Friends
by Dave Vann
Out of the gate, the ensemble played tough. I dare say Phil's friendship with Chris Robinson has let some of the Crowes' mojo slip into the mix. You could hear it on the rusty freight train "Cumberland Blues" and later on what may be the best post-Garcia "New Speedway Boogie" I've ever heard. The push-me-pull-me interaction is intense, and they walk the line between rehearsed perfection and spontaneous outbursts with sure-footed nimbleness. Hearing this combination attack - "Scarlet Begonias > Fire On The Mountain" - isn't nostalgia but a lovely reminder of the twinned musical spirits in these compositions.

During the heaviest rain, Osbourne grabbed the reins, saying, "Boys, take it down." They dutifully obliged while she unfolded a Tennessee Williams-like tale about meeting her man wearing a negligee, a cocktail in one hand and an ice pick in the other. We never found out how their date ended, but one imagines not well. When she purred the word "negligee," one of my compatriots asked if we would be paying $2.99/minute for her story! I had my wallet ready!

Phil's stated idea of telling stories with his setlists really hit home when they played "Gimme Shelter" with all the foreboding menace of the original Stones studio recording. An electric chill went up my spine as Osbourne growled, "Oh, a storm is threatening my very life today/ If I don't get some shelter, oh yeah I'm gonna fade away." They tickled chaos on this one, crunchy guitars and possessed piano vying for supremacy as they pushed back the storm clouds and set the children moving to this elemental beat.

Phil Lesh & Joan Osbourne by Dave Vann
With a "Box of Rain" this temporary city came to an end. Phil and company proved the ideal punctuation on this living, breathing entity called Bonnaroo - impassioned, brilliantly skilled and booming with a fractured but unbroken heart.

Believe it if you need it, and if you don’t just pass it on.

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mrkrinkle6884 starstarstarstarstar Tue 7/4/2006 07:46PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Infradig deserves a mention. Having seen and spoke to them a time or few when they play Knoxville. I was so happy and estatic to see them get the warm welcome that they did. Along with playing some Radiohead covers to get the kids ready for Saturday. I have never seen the front of the Troo Music Lounge filled with happy faces and busy feet. Guys you rocked Bonnaroo and Ate some Faces as Carl said he was gonna do. Hopefully they will grace a tent at this festival cause they and Pnuma Trio are the new faces of jazz/electronic. ROCK ON INFRADIG

Stevie_t starstarstarstarstar Tue 7/4/2006 11:38PM
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what a big event to try to tackle in an article. this is all pretty accurate out of what of the article i decided to read. namely two things...

BECK SUCKED!!!! no matter what anyone else tells you he was awful, listening to the cds is much better, and i'm glad i left. if someone says the performance was good, chances are they haven't seen a lotta good music live ever. he seemed like he hated to be there and there wasn't one moment that could even lift an eye brow, except his video on the monitor of puppets pantomiming the music which was tired by the end of the first song, and to me was only compensation for a lack luster performance, from a huge act on a major slot at the festival.

and brothers past fucking kicked ass.

skinny2 starstarstarstar Wed 7/5/2006 12:30AM
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bonapoo goood artist but not the right seen

doorstop starstar Wed 7/5/2006 04:55AM
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Fellow readers, while I was not at this year's 'Roo, the author of this article comes off as unnecessarily bias to me. I realized that the rest of his article must be taken with a grain of salt when the author made the claim that Scofield outshined his earlier works by playing with Phil Lesh and Friends. Scofield has played with the likes of Miles Davis, as well as many other exceptional musicians in a variety of different genres, and to say one performance with Phil Lesh outshines his previous works is ludicrous. I spoke with people who went to the show and are familiar with Scofield, they told me Scofield played great and that his performance showed his tremendous versatility...not that it was the best Scofield performance ever. Potential Scofield fans, please heed my advice and listen to his other albums, including "Uberjam," "Trio Live," and "A Go-Go", which was recorded with MMW, and see for yourself.

cocheese starstarstarstarstar Wed 7/5/2006 06:33AM
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Awesome, spectacular, great, unforgettable, moving, inspiring, sick, glorius, beautiful, and yes Joan Osbourne made my balls tingle(sorry, but she did)! It was....... BONNAROO!!!

jeremyshier starstar Wed 7/5/2006 08:02AM
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Whoever wrote this article defintely went down to Bonnaroo for the opposite reasons I did. I guess that is why bonnaroo is so great (there is something for everybody to go see), but this guy just isn't interested in a good jam. He dismissed both Umphrey's and the Biscuits (possibly the best combined show at bonnaroo) far to quickly obviously not realizing Umphrey's amazing technicality and the Biscuits ability to jam tighter than any other group. He called Brothers Past jams weird and said that Joan Osborne was as much a leader in his band as he was. Don't get me wrong a enjoyed her presence throughout the entire show, but I don't recall her playing any instruments. I shouldn't criticize too much though because I guess everybody has their personal preference, I just wish somebody wrote this article who was more in line with my musical tastes.

Nibble starstarstarstarstar Wed 7/5/2006 09:26AM
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Well done Mr. Cook. I though that your descriptions were right on. The section for MMJ really hit the nail on the head. Seeing them were a conversion for myself into rooted rock bands. Although I did not go this year in lieu of going to Wakarusa, which for my taste was the right choice. I am torn. Is Bonnaroo too big? Can it continue to grow like it has in the last few years? Or will this monster continue to grow and get so big that the naysayers will throw in the towel and cough up the money and time to see things like Oysterhead in the upcoming years? It's all about opportunities. But, if opportunity abounds it is unlikly one will be able to take advantage of every opportunity. What's the purpose of having a mountain of berries in front of you if you cannot eat them all before they rot. I would like to hear peoples opinions about this.
Neal in MO

jambandfan star Wed 7/5/2006 01:04PM
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Terrible article all the way around. Why didn't jambase send out a team, say 3 or 4 people, with differentiating music tastes and allow them to collaborate on the article? Mr. Cook has way too many opinions on what he feels is "good" to write a synopsis on something as big as Roo. He disrespected a lot of artists in his review, and by doing so I feel like he's alienated a lot of jambase's visitors. Oh well, it wasn't my article, thank goodness.

Stevie_t Wed 7/5/2006 01:07PM
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well to address the comment beneath me who was talking about bonnaroo getting bigger and bigger each year...well all festivals do that. wakarusa, summer camp, all good, all getting bigger this year then the last.

also, everyone seems to be overlooking the fact that bonnaroo cut capacity by 10,000. technically this years bonnaroo was smaller...

JimmyJamesx5 star Wed 7/5/2006 01:56PM
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Yeah Beck was just all right, his gimmicks i thought was funny, but would have rather seen Les Claypool who was playing at the same time. Things that were aweseom that got glossed over, Dr.John, Andrew Bird, no mention of how long Petty played 1 and half hours, Radiohead played thier whole time slot, MMJ will always just be all right to me, i know they have a huge following, but Andrew Bird was the best part of that show, Matisyahu was awesome, why spend so much time telling us how bad Jr. Gong was and how great Matisyahu is. Scofield was sweet, but Joan just didn't do it for me, when she went on about the rambling with the ice pick, for me that was the worst moment in the show, i didn't come to see joan osborne sing about how she isn't getting laid, i wanns see Phil and Scofield, her one saving grace was a "nice" rendition of "all along the watchtower

krazyasian starstarstarstar Wed 7/5/2006 03:21PM
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Good article... lots of bias but anyone who's passionate about music will be on some level. SPOT ON about Phil and Friends... Joan had my heart in the palm of her hands, she was perfect.

toestothenose starstarstarstarstar Wed 7/5/2006 04:19PM
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Dennis -

Wonderful tidbits from an eclectic weekend of music! You undertook a monumentous task covering this alone. In my humble opinion you did the work of 3. I especcially like the DR.John segment and would love to hear your take on just that show in a full article.

As long as you keep writing - I'll keep reading!


craikes13 Wed 7/5/2006 04:23PM
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this article pretty much summed up my bonnaroo experience:
everywhere and nowhere at the same time

I didn't really feel like Bonnaroo was unique to itself this year. I don't know much on how to explain that more, but I didn't see where it took itself to the next level, even for Bonnaroo. Maybe it was a year of regrouping, thinking ahead to '07, I don't know, but on paper, everything had the makings of being the biggest thing this summer. Now, having actually listened to it all play out, I don't know.

I don't think there was too much to mention on the part of the major acts. Toubab Krewe & Matisyahu were 2 of the few acts, in my opinion that were trying to make the most of their appearance in front of so many people. Dumpstaphunk dropped the hammer on us late night, Oysterhead played their crazy instruments to much thanks, Bonnie made some strong political statements, and the Hip Hop late night had me noddin' my head all the way back to the camp, but even still, it just didn't seem like people carried the inspired vibe about them, like..... "THIS is Bonnaroo, let's give 'em something new/different/the best yet/our hearts"

Lucky for me, next week, I will totally feel All Good about it in WV with side by side stages.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Wed 7/5/2006 04:43PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

okay lets face it. nobody would give two rats asses about damien marley if he didn't have the family name. you know it's true. and as for matisyahu, he is a phoney hippocryte. he speaks about peace,love, and all good things but time and again he has dodged journalists questions regarding where he stands on the systematic campagin of atrocities that the APARTHEID nation of isreal is committing on the long suffering palestinian people. it's time for him to speak up. and all of you dumb heads are forking over your cash to him becasue you like his music. i smell a gimmick and a whole slew of misguided people who take time to see him.

matt87 star Wed 7/5/2006 04:44PM
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the article did seem pretty biased

Timberrrr starstar Wed 7/5/2006 05:45PM
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to stevie - t ....

when we say bigger, we mean more mainstream. many fests get bigger in size but they still keep the wonderful 'unknown' bands on their bill (not to mention, ignoring radio friendly bands... nothing wrong w/that if its your thing though). thats why many of us stopped going to bonnaroo and now go to these fests... like all good, waka, and summer camp. i am not interested in seeing all these new indie rock bands like death cab and especially not mainstream radiohead or tom petty. but instead of complaining about how bonnaroo is no longer a decent fest, i simply spend my money elsewhere.

I think the article was alright but hopefully there are more perspectives out there that someone would like to submit?

wtfdude starstarstarstarstar Wed 7/5/2006 05:51PM
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I'm not sure why there are so many comments saying that the article is biased; what does that even mean?

Not everything at bonnaroo was good this year, just like last year and the year before. Is it wrong to point out that some acts were disappointing, or is it only wrong if the band being denied excessive praise (in a paragraph-long review) happens to be your favorite?

Nibble Wed 7/5/2006 08:25PM
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I am not one to argue with another but, Stevie_t must of had a great time. All I was saying is basically the same as the comments below about, "THIS is Bonnaroo." It HAS gotten too big for its own britches. It is a great time, been there done that. I just want to go to festivals with no more than 20,000. There are some out there which limit there admittance. The festivals you mentioned still were no where near the amount that Bonnaroo was. I think the closest one was still 1/4 the size. Not really that large. If they do I will be looking for a true festival experience not a money making machine. When you can see the artists eating at the Chinese Food vendor you are there. If they are in air conditioned builiding-esque areas you might want to rethink next years experience. Plus you can almost get a two for one price and see more music for your dollar. And you won't get musicians who "hated to be there and there wasn't one moment that could even lift an eye-brow" You could see Brothers Past in many different places.

bassdrum200 Wed 7/5/2006 08:33PM
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id like to point out the reason this years roo sucked might have a little to do with the people in attendence. when people are yelling at the band to "Do something! Make that shit work for you, son!" you know its a shitty place not just to listen to music but play as well. maybe the indie kids wanted everything to be 3 minutes and radio friendly, and people who wanted "jam" music were pissed off about, i donno DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE??!! i think because some bands were trying to capture both, or some not at all *beck* nobody really did what they were best at. all in all unless bonnaroo cleans up its act ill never go again.

also on a side literary note; the article is SOPPOSED to be "biased" since its a review. if this were a straight newspaper article it would just say who played there and when. quit bitching and write your own article if you dont like it or agree with it.

Juan Wed 7/5/2006 10:17PM
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I was honestly beginning to wonder if Jambase even covered the event. I was checking everyday and was actually surprised to find the review today. Indeed, it is a tall order to have one person cover this entire festival (from a writing perspective,) so kudos to Mr. Cook for passionately tackling the task. I must respectfully disagree though with the Damien Marley/Matisyahu comments. Though I was not at Bonnaroo, I have seen both performers before, and as a true fan of reggae and as one who has studied the culture, I found myself oddly offended by the Marley comments. Granted the Marley name speaks volumes, but I do not listen to Damien because he is Marley's son. I listen to music because it moves and inspires, because it is fresh and creative... and I don't listen to Julian, Kymani or even newer Ziggy Marley. But I have listened to Damien Marley since the day his first album came out and have been taken by his unique spin on the genre and his passion. Regardless of the privilege you claim Damien was born in to, his message isn't diminished as a result and/or his ability to illuminate native conditions is not negated. I'm not saying Matisyahu is not talented, because he is. But I view his Hasidic schtick as just that - a marketing ploy as transparent as a breast exposed in a wardobe malfunction (particularly considering he dosn't even speak Hebrew and is truly either ignorant of or afraid to illuminate his REAL ROOTS AND CULTURE.) No offense Jambase or Dennis, but that opinion, which I view as ignorance, really made the entire article a bit hard to swallow even though Mr. Cook was and continues to be one of my favorite music journalists and a tremendous asset to Jambase. I really look forward to some spectacular 10KL coverage since it is this year's true Jambase festival... and since I won't be attending. Jambase was and is the only place to get the awesome pix and in-depth coverage of the music community I consider myself to be a part of!

joxley1 starstarstarstar Thu 7/6/2006 12:32AM
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Excellent piece. I think the writing was professional and VERY informed about music of all kinds (opened my eyes on numerous fronts). I was not present at 'roo 06, but I feel like a got a great sampling of the many things that went down. I guess I don't know what people want out of these articles. How exactly does one write a review like this without some bit of personal bias? It's not like he is meterologist or writing for the Financial Times or something. It was an arts and music festival. Art and music are subjective things. And it was ONE guy handling the duties. Anyone else out there capable of however-many-thousand-words this was? If Bisco or UM didn't get enough love from the writer it doesn't mean that YOU can't still love them. Or tell us why you love them without having a chip on your shoulder. Even us old guys know those bands kickass. Tons of people read these articles and pleasing every fan of every band is impossible. Thank goodness someone as capable as the writer cares enough to submit these things for my FREE entertainment. Aside from that, I thought Joan's ice pick rap was a little weird (although she looked amazing) and the New Speedway Boogie was the best post-GD stuff I have heard in ages (I watched the webcast of P.L. and F). Thanks to the author and jambase. Cheers.

joxley1 Thu 7/6/2006 12:43AM
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Wanted to say that my Bisco/UM remark wasn't directed at anyone personally. Just was on my brain as I was typing.

NakedCity starstarstar Thu 7/6/2006 05:20AM
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Scofield was so turned down in the mix he was barly audible. Best performance ever , yea right. I thought he played scard. Grab sounds lighting years behind 95 Phish come on.

Tom Kirk star Thu 7/6/2006 06:52AM
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>>"Why didn't jambase send out a team, say 3 or 4 people, with differentiating music tastes and allow them to collaborate on the article?"

I couldn't agree more.

sandytowne starstarstar Thu 7/6/2006 08:00AM
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decent review, although i gotta disagree on a couple of points. first, i love radiohead, have seen them on 3 different tours, 9 times, not including the roo. the roo show was the WORST show they have ever put on, in part because the crowd was so out of it. I was towards the right of the stage, a little ways back, and more than half of the people around me were just sitting on the ground, no energy, lifeless.. secondly, the author skipped over the two best parts of the weekend for me, the disco biscuits, and the superjam. at the superjam i closed my eyes and seriously thought phish was playing in front of me, I was as giddy as a school girl. and the biscuits just straight out rocked. the encore was amazing (basis for a day i think its called?) other highlites, twobob krew, those dude from fayettville really know how to put on a show.

gambit star Thu 7/6/2006 08:09AM
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Too say that Jr Gong is a only worth his name is pure bull shit have any of you even heard his first few records. his latest record is his best you all need to see him for who he is and not the name. have any of you even been to Jamrock you don’t have to be poor to see the struggle these people go thru. I think more respect should be paid. The writer (if that’s what you want to call him)of this artical SUCKS BIG fill in the blank. more about the music and less self indulgence and opinions. JAH WILL SORT IT OUT

cochran5 Thu 7/6/2006 10:08AM
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While I enjoyed reading this article, having not attended Bonnaroo, I was shocked at the author's dismissal of Junior Gong Marley, as a "pose(r)" and his embracing and promotion of Matisyahu.

Wasn't it only a few years ago that Matisyahu was just another wookie touring with Phish. That doesn't sound very kosher to me, but who am I to judge.

And during all this time Marley and Ziggy were deep in the studios honing their production skills and developing their sound. All reggae groups give praise to Bob Marley, hell I was just at Little Feat the other night and they did Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up". Does this make them posers and unoriginal?

As for Matisyahu once he gained his fame he fired his managers who had been with him since the beginning in favor of a larger, more commercial firm.

Hmm, who is the bigger poser now?

EVILFUNK Thu 7/6/2006 10:40AM
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a step forward for the mainstream but those of us who grew up in the garden know enough about these apples to bite but we know better than to swallow. when this festival first blew up i saw oppertunity for musicians like myself but now i see alot of BS. dont get me wrong, i have endless respect for most of the artists there and it looks like tons of excelent care went into the event. i dont really blame anyone for going - i bet i could have alot of fun there myself. when i was blind sided with a boneroo pop up ad i was also happy for the folks in accounting at jambase (jambase keeps it real, they deserve the dough - hopefully they got lots of it too). so, i dont really hate the game just the player. what im really trying to say here is boneroo, who ever you are personally - fuck you. when i was a kid all of the assholes were either at home playing video games or at the mall starting fights. i kid like me could go to a jam fest or a jam show and get away from all of that but now that you have reduced my scene to an out door shopping mall complete with an X BOX booth. i feel poorly for the youth who think they are learning the scene through your festival. fuck you, hipster. fuck your bullshit money maker.

on a brighter note...THE ALL GOOD FESTIVAL has the ARU REUNION and GRAB. lots of other cool stuff too. what if we all just gave our love to ALLGOOD? i dont know the people who present the festival but i recognize what they are doing, and have for years.

boneroo thinks it wanted to bring hip hop into this? fine - they get battle! thank you, jambase for giving me a voice.

Patjcostell starstarstarstarstar Thu 7/6/2006 10:42AM
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I saw Marley's Show I left Marley's show nuff said

21Gooch starstar Thu 7/6/2006 12:21PM
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There is place for opinion, but it's nice to let others form their own opinion based on your reportings. I suppose those are two different ways to review a show, just different angles. Also, it's great to crossover into other areas of music on JamBase (namely indie music), but please respect what got you to where you are and why people have come to JamBase for years. If you don't know or understand what a jam band is, as you stated, then maybe you shouldn't write for JAMbase.

massaholic starstarstarstarstar Thu 7/6/2006 12:41PM
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best shows at bonnaroo 2006
1. radiohead morning jacket
3.bela fleck and the flecktones
4.damian marley

worst shows at bonnaroo

that is all

jmintz Thu 7/6/2006 01:30PM
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I think it's abundantly clear that a large portion of you have no idea what a review is.

The fact is that one person can not make every show at a festival. It's impossible. I have covered Wakarusa the past two years, and it just can't be done when there are multiple stages with musicians on them simultaneously.

Second, the writer's job is to call it like he sees it. Perhaps you're looking through a different set of glasses than Dennis but don't call him out for speaking his opinion, because that's what he's been asked to do.

Maybe you agree with his point of view, and maybe you don't, but as someone here said already, if you don't like it, write your own review. I'm sure Jambase would love to have your contributions.

mojofolk Thu 7/6/2006 01:47PM
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Folks, I suppose Bonnaroo is like any other experience... you will get out of it what you bring into it, and what you put into it... I'm a long time deadhead, festival goer and fan of music and this Bonnaroo (number 4 for me) was amazing. The people I went with, the people I met, the sense of community, partacking in the benefits of the obvious evolution of the Bonnaroo experience, the eye candy, and the music... so much music! Granted, there were bands that I wasn't interested in seeing, so I didn't and there were bands that I had no clue that I should have been interested in seeing and now I know... initially I was a bit turned off by the lack of bands know for extended improvisation, but I was quickly knocked out of that funk by the hours and hours of wonderful sounds. My only complaint (not a serious one at that) is the same one that I've always had... so many choices and so many overlapping schedules... I missed Um/Bisco because I was locked into the heart thumpin' booty shakin' sounds of Lyrics Born/Common/Blackalicious and damned happy with the choice that I made (get the Blackalicious set if you can - WOW)... I'm sorry to hear that some of you didn't have a blast... I for one cannot wait for my chance to see number 5

JamBase starstarstarstarstar Thu 7/6/2006 04:42PM
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21Gooch, please explain to us what a "jam" band is. I started this website and I still can't figure it out. ;)


p.s. Nice job Dennis - your review was entertaining and captivating, just like a good storyteller should be.

EVILFUNK Thu 7/6/2006 06:27PM
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bassdrum200 says "when people are yelling at the band to "Do something! Make that shit work for you, son!" you know its a shitty place not just to listen to music but play as well." sounds like these people have confused the music and art festival with a sporting event. where are these people coming from and why are so many of them keep showing up lately? who is marketing my scene to these people and why? most importantly how? what of this phenom? the sooner we all understand it, the sooner we can deal with this crap (we need to deal with this crap)

mojofolk says "I was a bit turned off by the lack of bands know for extended improvisation"

if bands at boneroo arent 'jamming' it is because they arent 'jambands'. too bad. when i talk about what we fought for in the past few decades while we were making this whole jam scene happen i was refering to stuff like the right to the 8 minuite guitaur solo. i am just one of these people who wants to hear long imporov. hey, i know! lets start a new genre for artists and fans who like jambands. lets pick a better word than jamband just in case the word has any kind of traction.....(we love you dean b.)

moeron99 Fri 7/7/2006 06:46AM
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I couldn't agree with you more Mojofolk.

xilz Fri 7/7/2006 09:30AM
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Ok the review was what it was. I wanted to see a lot of shows that i didnt see. probably the same as this guy writing and i wouldnt want a review from someone who just heard about the show and not seeing for themselves.
secound, although this was only my secound roo i will not be back, it wasnt the music(the music was awesome) but the people that went were not my cup of tea. thier were not as many hippies there,i would say half or more than the previous years. It would take a phish reunion at bonnaroo next year to get me to go. By the way my buddie got a "simple possesion" ticket for $800 + sooo. have fun at Cohellaroo next year. I will see ya at all good and 10klf

MikesGroover starstarstarstar Fri 7/7/2006 10:18AM
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Nice review, and I'm glad to hear that I wasn't the only one who thought Beck's performance fell flat, and Phil's was majestical. The Disco Biscuits late night set made me a believer, and My Morning Jacket seems on their way to playing arenas. Overall festival organization gets an A+.

jdp starstarstarstar Fri 7/7/2006 11:12AM
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In defense of Joan:

She did not say she had "an ice pick" in the other hand. She said she had "a nice big spliff."

Joan, if you're reading this and want to show me your appreciation in person, let me know.

Great article overall.

cocheese Fri 7/7/2006 11:32AM
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Yeah what is a "jamband"? The last time I checked this is a MUSIC festival. Now I don't enjoy listening to some of the bands that were there, but a majority of them I did. I had never even heard a Radiohead song before bonnaroo, now I have and I can say they're not my cup of tea. I not gonna bash them or their fans because of it. As far as the unruly crowd that shows up at shows and who is marketing this scene,(not my scene because this thing belongs to the music not us or the bands) I think we marketed to these unruly kids. They see how much fun and how free one can be at these shows, but don't understand why we are. It's the music. Drugs is the other, and probably bigger reason they show up. Lets be honest here, drugs are becoming the main reason people show up to festies more and more these days. Drugs do nothing for the scene but bring it down, music is what should be setting us free at the shows. Drugs put up walls and breed anger and hatred, music knocks down those barriers that a 60 year old hippie from Boston who likes kick back and bob his head to the beat and a 26 year old country boy Tennessee who likes to stomp his foot and groove to some tunes might would have. Give the scene back to the music, and stop claiming it as your own, that only creates tension. "one good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain!"

JamMan85 star Fri 7/7/2006 02:00PM
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I completely disagree with the Jr. Gong review. I saw him twice in Boston before Bonnaroo, so this was my third show, and I have to say it was by far the best. Jr. Gong in a festival atmosphere is as good as it gets, from his thunderous beats, amazing energy, his genuine conversations with the Bonnaroo crowd to his strong, sympathetic desire to flow slow enough so the audience can understand what he's saying, to his secret weapon--his dancers. You can't tell me during "Move" you expected his backup dancers to do what they did. They remind you of Bob's backup dancers, except they actually do stuff. Damian Marley's not a poser, he doesn't have to prove anything...the Grammys he's won for "Welcome to Jamrock" say it all. I honestly don't see how you can criticize someone who is able to fuse reggae and hip hop so well--he pays tribute to his father but at the same time, makes a name for himself. And soon everyone will know how good he really is.

bulpizzle starstarstar Fri 7/7/2006 02:15PM
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In regards to Steel Pulse: It's "Chant a Psalm a Day", not "Chant a summer day". Just thought I would clarify.

EVILFUNK Fri 7/7/2006 03:12PM
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t bone.... if we have to discuss substance abuse on the scene why dont we use more specific terms than "drugs"? i really dont see a problem with some of the substances we often like to lump in that category being openly used (and performing other healthy functions) on the scene but when it comes to hard drugs im ready to stink about it also. i do feel like we should make a strong distinction between the more troublesome substances and a few other cultural sacrements that i feel have a strong and healthy place on OUR scene. i like how Phil Lesh deals with this in his book - he seems to cop the the obvious truth about hard drugs impact on the Gratefull Dead's plight while at the same time he tells fun war stories about who showed up when with what kind of smoke. i feel like this is a more than reasonable message (phil being good family in my eyes).

also, i dont mean to claim the scene as yours or mine. you make a good point about that. what i mean to say is that we have cultivated somthing special and specific here and i see big money forces beginning to influence that in alot of ways. i belive this influence will undermine the verry music you and i love so mucth in the long run. i cant express how gratefull i am that there was some kind of counter cultural thing going on in america as i was growing up. i am happy that this thing is growing but i realize that what made it in the first place was all of OUR influence, not AT&T or X BOX. so, when i hear of 13 year old festival goers are having video game controllers put in thier hands in the name of art and music i feel like i need to give somthing back by kicking and screaming as loudly as i can. boneroo wants to go out like hustlers and i got somthing to say about that - BATTLE!

splurtagious starstarstarstar Fri 7/7/2006 04:22PM
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"The Scene?"

Commercialism has engulfed the scene. All I have to say is MTV. Thats right, my once considered underground music scene made it on MTV. I had hoped it would never happen but it did. Just last week I was flipping through the tube and there was a story on MTV news about Bonaroo documenting a group of teens at the fest. It just goes to show what happens when the potential to make big money exists. I guess all good thing must die but I never thought it would turn out like this. A commercial spectaclte covered up behind the contemporary definition of a "hippie" and counter culture. After the first Roo I knew it was only a matter of time before I saw or heard such things in this music scene. Well people I think the lines have been blurred and now have crossed. Now "OUR" once small and very special scene has gone commercial. A good enough reason why I will never attend Bonaroo or most other major commercial festivals. Many good points were made in a number of the posts on how things have changed and if you have been following things for the last 7-8 years you probably agree. The corporations have taken contol and we all know they will screw it up promoting what bands they think "WE" should be listening to. So here is to this years 10,000 lakes fest and the only remaining bit of what I fell in Love with.

Steve Berg
Minneapolis, MN

onlyheat starstarstarstar Fri 7/7/2006 05:07PM
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Great article, Dennis. You saw and remembered about four times more artists than I did over the weekend.

My Top 3: MMJ, GRAB, Gomez.
Bands I wish I saw: Dungen, Grace Potter, Electric Eel Shock, Cat Power.

So much good stuff, so little time.

RoscoGirl starstarstarstarstar Fri 7/7/2006 05:23PM
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This is for JamBase Andy and all others asking what does "Jam" mean...or what is a Jam Band?
Andy I believe we had this conversation at Langerado.....Being a musician I always thought that "to Jam" means to get together and play some music. I don't think it is genre specific.
I have always thought jam Bands were bands that at any time could have folks step in and "jam" just take the tune where it decided to go.
Hell, what do I know? I supposedly play in the "jam" genre, but truly, it has gone so many different directions, it is like Pizza. You never know what your getting until it is right in front of ya! Even then it still can be a bit surprising. *grin*

As for this review.....well I was there as well. I took half the photos you all see in this piece. I hear/see so many bands and shows that I try really hard to be open minded to it all. Sometimes I feel like I am sonically being abused. And, usually at that point I will look over and see 10 to my one digg'en the hell out of it.
I do believe that anyone who went to Bonnaroo this year expected to experience the diversity in the music. I also believe that there a few that never left the campgrounds.

We all like different things.
I would think most folks that would be reading this, enjoy hearing other folks points of view. Sure as hell can disagree. I do on some of the reviews of bands in this piece, but I just have different tastes.

I do know one thing for sure....Dennis, Dave and I worked hard to bring this back to y'all.

You got em all stirred up Dennis!
Good Job!


groovaholic388 starstarstarstar Fri 7/7/2006 11:25PM
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bonnaroo was the ish. Ilive in Nashville and have looked foward to it for a while. Highlights had to be Moe. and Rusted Root. Biscuits raged until sunup. And Radiohead was dope, though i enjoyed Phil Lesh alot more. i dont remember if the article covered Rusted Root but they played amazing. Hope to see everyone there next year

boozoo starstarstarstar Sat 7/8/2006 01:52AM
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Did anyone catch the band Tishamingo.I believe that they are out of North Florida or someone said Athens,ga.The interguitar p;ay was amazing and the 2 vocalist also pretty amazing.a very exciting young up and comming band. Does anyone know more about this band Tishamingo!!

jackstraw1984 Sat 7/8/2006 02:14PM
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hey sandytowne - it's not "twobab krew" its Toubab Krewe, and they're from Asheville, not Fayetteville. Anyone who missed them at Roo needs to check them out, they are by far the best group of immensely talented musicians around today.

data starstarstarstar Sat 7/8/2006 04:11PM
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I love Bonnaroo, especially the feeling when you get back to the "real world" and remember what a special thing it is.
Stangers stopping stangers

nugghupher starstarstarstar Sat 7/8/2006 09:41PM
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so how were the e- bombs

darksider starstarstarstarstar Sun 7/9/2006 01:39AM
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Everything I saw I liked. I had a great weekend. So did the writer of this review. And if that gigantic 80000-voice roar at the end of Sunday night is any indication, so did a hell of a lot of other people. I'll come back for more.

Great article, by the way.

hippiehick starstar Sun 7/9/2006 05:46AM
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It's like we were at different shows. Jerry Douglas was to me the best musician at the Roo. Buddy Guy doing an all acoustic set is not only RARE and historical it was amazing. Bonnie Rait's impromtu songs with Jerry Douglas were as well historical. Bisco's late night set put more smiles on faces than any other band I had seen. Cypress Hill did all the great hits in a row. I have beento all but the first and by far this was the best time I had. Just thought all bandfs are worth mentioning not just what you got to see......

thesaxophonist starstarstarstarstar Sun 7/9/2006 01:53PM
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V I V A L A I T A L I A ! ! !

cocheese Mon 7/10/2006 06:11AM
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Point well taken EVILFUNK. I should have been more specific in my post, afterall my motto is BE FUN HAVE GOOD! So I do agree with you there. The heavy drugs that show up at all the festies are a major problem, and also draw attention from law enforcement agencies. But as in all things in life if you continue to feed something it will only get bigger until it finally collaspses under its' own weight. Coporate America isn't blind and they have seen the possiblities of these festivals and they will only become more and more visible at them. One day this culture will become obsolete and spawn a new one, and history will repeat itself and that's a fact. Luckily for us music lovers pop culture's attention span is shorter and one day they will got tire of this scene. Hopefully it will be before they bleed it dry.

FormulaOBX Mon 7/10/2006 06:42AM
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Third and last Bonnaroo.Yes there is no commercial tags on it YET but the crowd seems to ooze "frat guys".No more for me, thanks for the great times but the last person i talked to at this years 'roo said "I think some guy named Phil is closing on Sunday so we are leaving early....."How bout some ALL GOOD not a cash-cow festival yet. By the way anyone heard from the "famous naked guy" at 'roo.I bought him some toilet paper.

manjotar star Mon 7/10/2006 07:54AM
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i am still pissed at radiohead for putting me to sleep and making me miss all the other music that night.
the festival had a billion stages and still everyone was forced to listen to that shit for THREE HOURS with no other music to be found. i want thom yorke to give me my money back NOW!

i would like to thank Toubab Krewe for simply being in existence. i've known those guys for years and i think that first night at 'roo was just what they needed to show everyone what they are really all about.

MoeString starstarstar Mon 7/10/2006 09:27AM
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Moe. Tore it down on the Sonic Stage... With a cover of the Violent Femmes song Blister for an ENCORE... Oh yeah and did I mention that this set was acoustic!!! It was an awesome show... The best I seen at Bonnaroo.

EVILFUNK Mon 7/10/2006 11:21AM
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not being able to define a jamband makes us averege around here. using the loose definition as an excuse to try to sell us bubble gum is somthing only greedy high-roller showbiz asswipes like boneroo would do. jambase says "go see live music" so i dont intend any diss on you guys or to say that you are fronting at all about jam-anything. all i know is that a moment or two before or any of the jam sites there was somthing to ARU, Shockra, Phish, (dare i mention) Max Creek, WSP, the greatfull dead and lots of other bands that i see in the music and culture surrounding many of the bands covered on this site today. this is a consistent evolution of a culture and a loose evolution of a 'sound' or 'antisound', however we will have it. jambase has played a huge part in this evolution without ever claiming to be about any thing but "live music". dare i say that before jambase and the other sites we were not really a huge reading and writing croud - not to genaralize - but if you compare the old Relix with the new Relix you will see that over all there has been a positive evolution here. i have seen it with my own eyes. this is a legacy we have all been a part of and if we dont sell out now we can continue to evolve with out shame.

so, you and yours have managed to create somthing real here, andy. a website so many people have used in so many ways for soooo long. by now you must have learned what many of us who put standards first and profit last in showbiz in order to keep it real learn eventually. - doing the right thing for music and culture are one thing, earning a living doing this is another. now that big keeps getting bigger and real keeps getting more and more real (some of our parents expect us to make some money now that we have been out of college a few years) the urge to take money form people who sell violent video games that teach youth to kill, kill, kill will grow. we all have bills to pay. i would mutch rather that you do work with boneroo or anyone presenting 'live music' than go for broke. honestly, i think boneroo has every right to this kind of media attention as my comments opinion- it is ok to run the boneroo ads but only if fans like myself get to make an issue of the festivals jive buisiness moves.

so my piont in all of this is to say that if you are any where at any time on our fine planet and you are approached by a snake who would like you to run an x box ad on your site, choose your integrity. you have worked hard for it. trust me bro, just because the masses are happy with this shit does not mean it is ok.

im so sorry to hear about the death of your sponsors integrity - all for a buck. thank god you guys arent willing to go out like that. i hope you never do.

(im so tempted to put my real name on this one)

Larryjambandfan starstarstarstar Mon 7/10/2006 03:14PM
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boozoo -- Someone told me that Tishamingo was from Alabama. They did put on a nice show but who was that dude on stage left who looked like Keith Moon and danced like Austin Powers? He was amusing for about two minutes and then became wholly distracting.

Nice posts everyone. I can't really add much to what's been said. Bonnaroo will continue to go mainstream as it drives away some jamband purists and older Heads while catering to a younger demographic. Yeah, it's gone corporate but did you really think that an 80,000+ person festival could resist the urges to appeal to a wider audience base.

I generally prefer smaller festivals (i.e. Smilefest, NW String Summit, etc) but the huge festivals are a nice break once or twice a year. Maybe Bonnaroo doesn't have the cohesiveness and bonhomie of the smaller festivals but its sheer diversity is also part of its appeal. For the most part people got along remarkably well for the diversity of musical tastes and backgrounds. I'll definitely be back next year -- unless, of course, I see Korn and Slipknot on the menu.

mikenheidi star Tue 7/11/2006 07:02AM
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Dennis Cook needs his heart spoon fead too his young republican azz!!what he wrote about jr Gong Marley was big city white boy B S!just cuz you know 1,000 adjetives does'nt mean you should be a writer{biast at that}clearly he was way way in the back of the croud of thousands thats we're jumpin with the intensity of a Real root rock preformance!!Damian clearly shines brite enuff to not be in his fathers shadow,but idiots like cOOk can't resist compareing him to his father.We were drowning in Jr Gong and his band empires vibe which streached across 700 acres sat.
And trus this,his art is for real,unlike this Sears sucka suit wearing cOOk.

craikes13 Tue 7/11/2006 09:19AM
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Jam- to find music before the record labels do.
Jam- listening to a group who knows how to play their instruments.
Jam only happens live. Jam only happens when people break it down, and improvise.
Jam is not a genre, it is a style of playing, and not all bands jam, and not all bands jam all the time. I saw Gov't Mule here in VA a few weeks before Bonnaroo, and I thought it was a very lame show, like they were going through the motions- they did NOT jam. Yet, I have seen them before, and they jammed their arses off. Jam is not about playing the song, it is about playing your instrument. It is about liking what you do to the point where you can't control your enthusiasm anymore. Think of all the wonderful faces you have seen Trey make while killing that guitar. He is jamming (whether it sounds good or not). My girlfriend says "feeling it". Same thing. You feel jam, you don't listen to jam.

you know you are jammin' to music when you start bobbing your head, wiggling your butt, tapping your foot, or any other rote type behaviour that happens when you are not thiking about it.

Rock music can jam.
Jazz can jam, just ask Michelle.
Country can jam.
Emo can jam.
Afrobeat/Mali music can jam, ask Toubab Krewe, or Antibalas.
Bluegrass can jam.

There isn't a genre of music out there today that can't jam, but jam isn't the genre, it is the playing.
I don't think I have ever had a muddy view of what a 'jam' band is. I always thought a jam band was one that got out of playing their 'song' to play their 'instrument' and show us their musical knowledge. That to me is why almost EVERY jazz band is a jam band, because passing around a solo, and showing off your chops is standard procedure.

Just my couple of pennies. (which may not be around much longer)

Remember folks, mainstream isn't bad, it is just isn't our preference. If you don't want to see something that has gone commercial, then get out and support local live music.

larry Tue 7/11/2006 02:56PM
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"craikes13 :: 7/11/2006 9:19 AM
Jam- to find music before the record labels do.
Jam- listening to a group who knows how to play their instruments.
Jam only happens live. Jam only happens when people break it down, and improvise.
Jam is not a genre, it is a style of playing, and not all bands jam, and not all bands jam all the time. I saw Gov't Mule here in VA a few weeks before Bonnaroo, and I thought it was a very lame show, like they were going through the motions- they did NOT jam. Yet, I have seen them before, and they jammed their arses off. Jam is not about playing the song, it is about playing your instrument. It is about liking what you do to the point where you can't control your enthusiasm anymore. Think of all the wonderful faces you have seen Trey make while killing that guitar. He is jamming (whether it sounds good or not). My girlfriend says "feeling it". Same thing. You feel jam, you don't listen to jam.

you know you are jammin' to music when you start bobbing your head, wiggling your butt, tapping your foot, or any other rote type behaviour that happens when you are not thiking about it.

Rock music can jam.
Jazz can jam, just ask Michelle.
Country can jam.
Emo can jam.
Afrobeat/Mali music can jam, ask Toubab Krewe, or Antibalas.
Bluegrass can jam.

There isn't a genre of music out there today that can't jam, but jam isn't the genre, it is the playing.
I don't think I have ever had a muddy view of what a 'jam' band is. I always thought a jam band was one that got out of playing their 'song' to play their 'instrument' and show us their musical knowledge. That to me is why almost EVERY jazz band is a jam band, because passing around a solo, and showing off your chops is standard procedure.

Just my couple of pennies. (which may not be around much longer)

Remember folks, mainstream isn't bad, it is just isn't our preference. If you don't want to see something that has gone commercial, then get out and support local live music."

yep. I think it was Keith Richards who said any band can be the best in the world on any givin night.

Also, one of my favorite's from William Burroughs,

"A rock concert is in fact a rite involving the evocation and transmutation of energy"

mr2bits Tue 7/11/2006 06:38PM
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"but who was that dude on stage left who looked like Keith Moon and danced like Austin Powers? He was amusing for about two minutes and then became wholly distracting."

Was it Beatle Bob?

If so, he was at Jazz Fest and Wakarusa as well. From what I can gather he gets paid to watch music for a living, but im really not sure by whom.

larry Wed 7/12/2006 03:29PM
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"As far as the unruly crowd that shows up at shows and who is marketing this scene,(not my scene because this thing belongs to the music not us or the bands) I think we marketed to these unruly kids."

I think we need to do everything we can to welcome all these new folks to our ever more disjointed community. There has always been a compromise to the corp side, ever since, or even before Bill Graham. But what we share is alive, well, and free.

naeco starstarstarstarstar Thu 7/13/2006 01:21AM
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Some shows were lack luster, and some shows were amazing. The headliners this year could have been replaced. Tom Petty?? Radiohead?? Both great bands! But with Tom Petty I felt like i was in a dive bar listening to a juke box. And for Radiohead i felt like everyone was falling asleep or freaking out. Oysterhead, Disco, Umphreys, Ivan's Dumpstaphunk, Trey Gordo Duo (SuperJam), Now these are headliners!!! Bands that aren't afraid of playing for more than three hours. Or how about the Flaming Lips? I know they weren't there, but i saw them at wakarusa, and damn!!! can they headline a festival.

ruffdraught starstarstarstar Fri 7/14/2006 07:48AM
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my 2nd year @ bonnaroo. i'm lucky enough to just live 2 hours away in TN. Radiohead was amazing. i had never gotten into them before, and went to see what the buzz was about. and i was in awe the whole time. quite possibly the most chilled out concert i've ever been to. and so true even with the amount of people in attendance. beautiful.

londonko starstarstarstar Fri 7/14/2006 08:08AM
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All of these comments are worthless. How could you guys not enjoyed the Radiohead set? I could understand the misunderstandings beforehand, but if you were up in that Radiohead show, you would have realized how amazing it was. The fans waited for up front and that's who Thom was playing too. I had an amazing time and Saturday night at the 'roo 2006 was the best night of my life (i've been to 2 roo's, this and last) and to other festivals (waka, det. jazz fest etc.) and to see Radiohead, followed by Dr. John (as Night Tripper), followed by superjam (The Duo with Trey and Mike G.), followed by Dumpstafunk (the best funk show I've ever seen, they layed it down), followed by Sasha blowing my mind till sunrise.

Grow up and enjoy the music. Hating gets you nowhere.

cocheese Fri 7/14/2006 12:00PM
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IONDONKO, why do we have to like RADIOHEAD? This is a place for people to express their views. You know opinions are like assholes, everybody has one. I personally didn't like RADIOHEAD, but I'm not "hating" they are great musicians. They just didn't do it for me. It's okay for people not to like a band, don't get your panties in a wad. I respect your passion for the music though. Go take a smoke and chill out(or whatever you do to unwind), people don't like to be force fed music so you're doing more harm than good. That's just my opinion though!

nugule starstarstarstar Sat 7/15/2006 05:13AM
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your bit on radiohead gave my the same chills in had on that sat night

HOGAN starstarstar Wed 7/19/2006 02:38PM
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You have got to be kidding me! Beck was the best performance of the entire weekend. I was not a HUGE fan before, but this show has officially established me as a Beck admirer for the rest of my days. It was humorous, touching and fabulous talent!

Tom Petty is always a favorite, he never lets me down and The Neville Brothers....out of this world!

Radiohead was, in my opinion a lame headliner, I like to see them in Europe but for a Bonnaroo vibe, it's just too whiny and depressing. So many amazing attributes packed into the show but for outdoors festivals in the heat of summer, the line-up could have been more mellow-jam, but who am I to complain? It seems to me Bonnaroo is turning into another bandwagon Lollapalooza MTV event, which really makes me sad. But hey, then, for the die-hards, off to another "low key festival" until a corporate monster decides to buy that one out too!

All in all Bonnaroo was fun but it has lost it's charm.

MiWi La Lupa starstarstarstarstar Thu 7/20/2006 12:36PM
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MiWi La Lupa

nice/ not so nice to read the article/ the comments on the article. Sad but True/Exciting and optimistic. So nice to see people getting fired up about live music. Nice to imagine musicians earning money for their work. So sad to read people not respecting other people and their tastes.
I really appreciated the subtitle of the Frisell review. he's the man. I said to myself, that if I did go to the Roo, I would try and distance myself from childish people and relax with Frisell, Buddy Guy and Bonnie Rait. Was she there? Any review of her set? That makes me sound old doesn't it. I guess 24 is old. Anyone going to hear Frisell w/ Kenny Freekin Wollesen and Tony Scherr in Brooklyn August 3rd? Free show. They're playing to short, silent films. T'will be lovely. Peace.
Some dude in Brooklyn

Lord-K. star Tue 7/25/2006 09:43AM
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hippie chick I don't think that it was Bisco the band that was putting smiles on faces...from what i could see it was bisco the pill

EVILFUNK Thu 7/27/2006 03:44AM
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from here on im going to shut the fuck up and let crackies 13 do the typing.......most worty of another round.........this is so beautyfull.........

Sled4now :: 7/11/2006 2:56 PM
"craikes13 :: 7/11/2006 9:19 AM
Jam- to find music before the record labels do.
Jam- listening to a group who knows how to play their instruments.
Jam only happens live. Jam only happens when people break it down, and improvise.
Jam is not a genre, it is a style of playing, and not all bands jam, and not all bands jam all the time. I saw Gov't Mule here in VA a few weeks before Bonnaroo, and I thought it was a very lame show, like they were going through the motions- they did NOT jam. Yet, I have seen them before, and they jammed their arses off. Jam is not about playing the song, it is about playing your instrument. It is about liking what you do to the point where you can't control your enthusiasm anymore. Think of all the wonderful faces you have seen Trey make while killing that guitar. He is jamming (whether it sounds good or not). My girlfriend says "feeling it". Same thing. You feel jam, you don't listen to jam.

you know you are jammin' to music when you start bobbing your head, wiggling your butt, tapping your foot, or any other rote type behaviour that happens when you are not thiking about it.

Rock music can jam.
Jazz can jam, just ask Michelle.
Country can jam.
Emo can jam.
Afrobeat/Mali music can jam, ask Toubab Krewe, or Antibalas.
Bluegrass can jam.

There isn't a genre of music out there today that can't jam, but jam isn't the genre, it is the playing.
I don't think I have ever had a muddy view of what a 'jam' band is. I always thought a jam band was one that got out of playing their 'song' to play their 'instrument' and show us their musical knowledge. That to me is why almost EVERY jazz band is a jam band, because passing around a solo, and showing off your chops is standard procedure.

Just my couple of pennies. (which may not be around much longer)

Remember folks, mainstream isn't bad, it is just isn't our preference. If you don't want to see something that has gone commercial, then get out and support local live music."

yep. I think it was Keith Richards who said any band can be the best in the world on any givin night.

Also, one of my favorite's from William Burroughs,

"A rock concert is in fact a rite involving the evocation and transmutation of energy"

pronice Thu 8/3/2006 11:53AM
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this is the 1st year I didn't go to the Roo and for a good reason...the lineup blew. Cept for the late night and a COUPLE of late afternoon shows. I heard Beck SUCKED, as he did at Vegoose. his shit was lame. but I am not here to review the festival...I heard that there was a lease on the farmlands that Superfly holds Bonnaroo on and that their lease is up this year. Any truth to that??? I hear they may have it in upstate NY next summer?!?!?!? Hope so...

swonce starstarstarstarstar Sat 8/5/2006 04:38PM
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So what the fuck people. I went to bannaroo for one reason. Ive been to the others and couldnt pass it up. But no one has touched upon what I belive was the best show that weekend. OYSTERHEAD. It was sick. And yes poor bannaroo is fading

Elemley starstarstarstar Sat 8/5/2006 08:03PM
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Bonnaroo was sweetness this year, no doubt. Nearly every single act i saw was great and i'll gladly say that i enjoyed the slightly less jam oriented line up. That is coming from a person who loves jam tunes, you people have to just listen to the music and like it if you do and move on to another act if you dont. There were so many great shows and memories... Devotchka,Bettye Lavette,G Love, Oysterhead's fierce return(sadly i had to miss Robert Randolph). Tom Petty is damn good rock and roll. The Heartbreakers can kick out some rockers with a much richer sound than their studio work. And when they were finished up it was time to see mmj and umphrey's/bisco. the nevilles were good, buddy guy had a definite standout performance (my only complaint being that he wasnt given more time to work his mojo). And then.....Elvis Costello, Amadou and Mariam, and MMW. After that I get to change gears w/ radiohead and then rush over to see a group of a 1000 ppl huddled around the incredible visual display of the art of such n such while the funky new orleans stages are being prepared. .... Dr John the gris gris man, Rebirth, and Dumpstaphunk make music while the superjam turns out tunes of a completely different flavor. whats not to love people. Onward i go with the music as my guide..codetalkers, refugee allstars, bela fleck sounded great, matisyahu had his moments(mostly mediocre moments) Next comes something far from mediocre, 5 straight hours of near bliss... MOE. Bonnie Raiit and Phil Lesh to close out four incredible days. I would give highlights ther but the entire lesh show was just that.

ambrosiajam Thu 11/2/2006 08:01AM
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andy...are you the same guy who owns 10klf???? i met someone there who knew you. if thats you. well he knew the guy who put on 10k and said his name was andy. haha that would be cool if it were you. i would love to meet you, i have great ideas...we would be unstoppable together.