Friday, June 16, 2006


Mid-day report from Bonnaroo - 6/16

I'd have to say I haven't seen as many groups as I'd expected in the first 6 hours of Bonnaroo - the all-purpose 3-day rock festival set smack in the middle of Tennessee, south of Nashville and east of Chattanooga.

After the 11:30 press orientation, I skipped openers Robinella and World Party, but made sure not to miss Brazilian star Seu Jorge. He had the crowd singing and feverishly clapping along to his hip samba. Jorge's band - two acoustic guitars and two hand drummers - is a marvel as well.

Hungry, I repaired to camp and fixed a cheese sandwich, all the while listening to Ben Folds in the near distance on the Which stage (the second largest). With his high voice and pop piano style, Folds could easily pass for a Beach Boy.

Following a smoke with Danny Danko and the "potcast" crew - HT executive editor David "Bean" Bienenstock and Aaron Strebs (look for their latest masterpiece at today), Danko and I crossed the field to the What (main) stage, where British reggae stalwarts Steel Pulse had the crowd dancing in the staggering mid-day heat (at least 95 degrees?).

This required a stop in the air-conditioned press tent. A conference was going on, with Robert Randolph, Jimmy James (My Morning Jacket), Jack Aronoff (Steel Train), Folds and comedian Lewis Black fielding questions. Apparently it was pretty late in the conference, because one reporter, in Stutterin' John fashion (see the old Howard Stern Show), kept asking non sequitor questions like: "What do you think of steroids and why do you think there are so few Jewish baseball players?" This soon prompted Ken Weinstein to end the session with the quip, "You guys are strange today."

Stranger than that was me being asked by Colin of Big Hassle, the event's crackerjack publicity firm, if I'd like to go backstage and hit a few balls in the batting cage. "Why, sure," I responded. He'd announced at the press conference earlier that there'd be a friendly competition among the press to see who could connect the most times in 15 swings. So there I was in the cozy backstage village, taking practice cuts. I'm a pretty good hitter (and Bonghitter!), but I haven't faced a pitching machine in a long time. Two of the first 3 guys struggled bigtime, getting shutout. The burly redheaded guy ahead of me did pretty well (5 hits). He passed me his bat, which was really light. "Use this," he advised. I stepped to the plate and promptly swung through the first 2 fastballs. I fouled off the next 2. Finally, I golfed a few low pitches for clean hits. I ended up with a total of 3 cleans hits. Something tells me I'm not going to move onto the next round.

Colin fed us ice-cream bars as our reward (I ordered the dark-chocolate chocolate Godiva - yum!). I'm currently in the press room writing this, listening to Death Cab for Cuite in the background. Can't beat the air conditioning.

Tom Petty is tonight's headliner. Stay tuned...

Big Hassle's Ken Weinstein asked the press to pass along the following information about Bonnaroo's 2006 "Green Inititiatives":
· Over 25,000 gallons of biodiesel fuel (B100) to replace diesel for
non-music stage generators.
· WastAway refuse handling process to recycle over 250 tons of garbage.
· Concession food served with biodegradable wraps, plates, cups and
cutlery manufactured from a renewable resource.
· Festival-wide recycling and composting program.
· Cool Tags wind credits purchasing (and facilitation of purchases for
· Solar stage and sound system.
· Organic cotton and hemp t-shirts.
· Tree-free posters.
· Post-consumer recycled toilet paper for portolets.
· Post-consumer recycled paper for all administrative needs.
· Aggressively seeking ways to make Bonnaroo 2007 even greener.


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