Best of Bonnaroo: Climate Change In Action

By: Jason Greenfield

When My Morning Jacket played the Velvet Underground’s “Oh! Sweet Nuthin'” at their legendary late night set at Bonnaroo 2008 it ranked as one of the most emotional moments in the festival’s rich history. To this point, the only way to hear it was via a few audience tapes making the rounds. Today MMJ is releasing the song for the first time, for free, as part of a campaign to spur music fans to take action about climate change.

The campaign, called Music for Action, is a partnership with Bonnaroo, HeadCount, the NRDC Action Fund and JamBase. As part of the campaign, 17 artists including Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, Jack Johnson and Wilco are donating favorite tracks from their appearances at Bonnaroo to a special album that will be available only through the Music For Action website.

To download the tracks, the musicians are asking fans to visit and take action about climate change by writing a letter to their senators and local news outlets urging for the passage of climate change legislation. The website automates the process of letter writing, and once the process is completed fans will be able to download the tracks from a unique download page.

The campaign was created to urge the Senate to pass climate change legislation. In June of 2009, the House of Representatives narrowly passed cap-and-trade legislation that is intended to fundamentally restructure the way the U.S. uses and produces energy. The bill is now waiting for a sponsor to introduce a similar bill in the Senate while supporters try to round up the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster.

My Morning Jacket :: Bonnaroo 2008 by Vann
Speaking between stops on tour with The Disco Biscuits, who contributed “And the Ladies Were the Rest of the Night” from their 2008 Bonnaroo appearance, HeadCount’s Andy Bernstein said, “Our campaign is about speaking out and having elected officials hear from music fans. We’re big believers that music can inspire participation in democracy.”

Bernstein’s sentiments are echoed by Jack Johnson, who says, “This generation has an opportunity to be remembered as one that confronted environmental challenges and took responsibility for the future. With that opportunity comes the responsibility to speak out.”

The other partners are just as enthusiastic about the project. Guster‘s Adam Gardner, who with his wife Lauren runs the non-profit concert greening organization Reverb, says, “This is the exact sort of thing that Reverb’s Green Music Group was created to support, getting fans and musicians together around an environmental action.”

Rich Goodstone of Superfly Productions, the company that produces Bonnaroo, says, “[Superfly] is a proud supporter of HeadCount and the work they do. We are also supporters of the environment and doing whatever we can to make people aware of the dire situation global warming is creating.”

Our warming climate
Goodstone and Superfly are providing support for Music For Action in several ways. In addition to promoting the campaign on the Bonnaroo website and at the event itself this June, Superfly also lent their massive music collection to the cause. Ever since the first event, Bonnaroo has been recording every song played on every stage with 48-62 tracks per stage. The event’s archivist, Jon Altschiller, receives the raw tracks on hard drives and has spent the last four months remixing the majority of the tracks to ensure that they are some of the best quality concert recordings ever released.

Altschiller, who cut his teeth in the mixing booth recording Phish’s Rift, is wild about his newest assignment. “Musically, I don’t think there’s been a better collection of stuff put out by Bonnaroo,” says Altschiller, who is particularly excited about the amount of artist involvement in this album who see the importance of this cause. “I had direct contact with Warren Haynes on his track, Trey Anastasio was directly involved with ‘Kill Devil Hills.’ Jeff Tweedy was listening to these mixes. ‘Bull Black Nova’ is a headphone dream. I can’t get over the music selection. This is not just a thrown-together thing as a giveaway.”

Aron Magner, keyboardist for The Disco Biscuits, agrees, “Bonnaroo has always been a really exciting time for the Biscuits. There’s a lot of incredible energy with our performances. [Guitarist Jon Gutwillig] brings out the moment of actually being there as a fan.”

Like everyone else involved with the project, Magner is as serious about the cause behind the album as the album itself. He wants young voters to start “putting their words into actions.”

JamBase readers can get their headphones ready and start putting their words into actions now at

Best of Bonnaroo Track Listing
Wilco – Bull Black Nova
Pearl Jam – Animal
Jack Johnson – Inaudible Melodies
Dave Mathews Band – Rapunzel
Death Cab for Cutie – Cath…
Ani DiFranco – Fuel
Phish – Kill Devil Falls
Gov’t Mule – Banks of the Deep End
OAR – Delicate Few
moe. – Not Coming Down
Raphael Saadiq – 100 Yard Dash
Bob Weir & RatDog – Throwing Stones
The Disco Biscuits – And The Ladies Were the Rest of the Night
The Decemberists – Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid
My Morning Jacket – Oh! Sweet Nothin’
Guster – Happier
Phil Lesh and Friends – Box of Rain

JamBase | Worldwide
Go See Live Music!