The name Bonnaroo comes from Louisiana Creole slang, a word that was popularized on Dr. John’s album ‘Desitively Bonnaroo’. Superfly Productions, the company behind the festival, was based in New Orleans at the time of its inception and pays great homage to the city’s musical tradition. Coming from the French words “bon” meaning “good” and “rue” meaning “street”, the translation works out to something like “a good time”, and “the best of the streets”. For the festival’s organizers, it spoke to a key element of what they were creating, a music festival founded in the spirit of New Orleans, music everywhere all the time and an artistic, gROOvy vibe that is suitably difficult to put down in words. Now in their 13th year, Bonnaroo continues to grow and change each June, always remaining true to the “good time” spirit that began the enterprise.
As I said in my opening post, I’ve never been to Bonnaroo and as I continued to post Tweets and Instagrams from the festival’s 100,000 attendees my jealousy grew, along with my conviction to be in Tennessee for #Bonnaroo2015. Though my first Roo experience was a virtual and vicarious one, I will miss the sights, sounds and sense of community. I’ve discovered artists and groups that I never would have otherwise like ZZ Ward, The Wild Feathers, and Amos Lee. In addition, the live streaming app on Xbox made for a great piece of the Bonnaroo weekend. I didn’t discover it until the first day of the festival had passed so I’m sure I missed some great acts but watching Lionel Richie, Jack White, Wiz Khalifa, Elton John and many others live dropped me right into the middle of the fun. I feel my urge for new, awesome live music strengthened, and I feel it encouraged by these new discoveries. Known in recent years for its cross-genre appeal, Bonnaroo has proven itself to be the litmus test for summer music festivals with its Superjams being a particular point of pride. Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi joined by Chaka Khan, Willie Weeks and Ben Folds? Check. Electronic music star Skrillex joined by Lauryn Hill, Janelle Monae, Mystikal, Robby Krieger (of the Doors) and Damian Marley?? Only at Bonnaroo.
Beyond the music, the concept of reporting on a concert that I was not attending was a very intriguing one. I owe my thanks to the folks from whom I pulled pictures, videos and statuses all weekend that truly made me feel like I knew this place to which I had never traveled. I got to ride the Ferris Wheel, walk under the arch, see the Clock Tower, the Fountain, This That and The Other Tents, catch once-in-a-lifetime performances, hang out inside festival-goers camping palaces, and laugh along with the wonderful, crazy hippie that the Roo brings out in all of us. The Farm is an alive place, full of color and sound and art and adventure and I’m glad to have gotten even a small taste.
As with all good things, though, it must now come to an end. I thank all the musicians, bands, artists, stagehands, vendors and organizers who made it such an unforgettable weekend and I bid safe travels to all the Bonnaroovians, wherever you may be headed.
Stay True Roo and we’ll see each other somewhere further on down the road.