"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Monday, June 15, 2009

"if The Boss had been a preacher, he would've led us to The Lord" - Scott Miller - DAY THREE - Bonnaroo '09

Saturday, June 13, 2009
Epic day...epic, epic day...how else can you describe a day of music that starts with Jimmy Buffett and ends with Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band?
We got up "early" (by Bonnaroo standards) and made our way over to the second largest stage in Centeroo called the Which Stage an hour before Jimmy Buffet was scheduled to appear at noon. We got within about 20 yards of the center of the stage and started our wait in the hot sun. Cold beer really helped along with an early appearance by Jimmy himself during sound check to confirm that our wait would be worth it. He was in great spirits and seemed genuinely happy to see fans already gathering for his Johnny-come-lately-announced show...it was not "officially" announced until the day before Bonnaroo was to begin that Jimmy would actually join his all-star Coral Reefer Band who were slated to play along with young African crooner and Buffett discovery, Ilo Ferreira. Jimmy's slated "appearance" turned into about a dozen songs in the hour-long set that included all his classics along with Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl." Ilo (as is his stage name) was actually the one who made the "appearance" sharing the stage with Jimmy on two songs and leading one other. His smooth voice and laid-back attitude certainly did emulate a Jimmy Buffett persona.
Sandwiched between Jimmy Buffett starting the day in fine style and the rising excitement of seeing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band headline on the humongous What Stage that night at 9 PM, were some more lesser-known acts that we were excited to see up close and personal on some of the smaller stages as well as another music legend himself, Elvis Costello, performing a solo early-evening set at That Tent. After singing along to "Margaritaville" we took a short walk and arrived at our favorite small stage from last year, the Sonic Stage, in time to catch the last couple of songs from Katzenjammer - four wild ladies from Norway whose style of music can best be described as a combination of circus anthems and sheer madness, but they sure seemed to be having a good time performing. We settled in close to the stage afterwards and awaited a much closer look at Grace Potter (photo below) and the Nocturnals once again. The band was scaled down a bit from their set yesterday at the bigger This Tent stage including no piano which meant no chance of our favorite GT&TN song, "Apologies" being played. So be it, but it was still a great quick half-hour of pure original soulful rock. We were able to move up even a bit closer to the stage afterwards for the next 30-minute set by Nashville resident, Brett Dennen (photo below). Brett is....well...a little different than your typical rock-n-roller. A big mop of bright red hair, pearly white skin and a squeaky little talking voice. But when the amps come on and the melody begins, out of this little guy comes one of the coolest most unique voices in the industry today. With uplifting thoughtful lyrics and mesmerizing melodic harmony, he protrays a very old soul on the brink of what could be genius. To say we loved this guy is an understatement, and to say that he made such a memorable impression on us with just a half-hour set that again was sunk in between a day of shows by icons like Buffet, Costello and Springsteen is really saying something. This guy is special. There is no doubt about it, and we absolutely cannot wait to see him again in a longer performance. Thank you, Bonnaroo, for inviting this incredible young man to perform. Please bring him back next year and give him a longer set!!
After Brett Dennen's amazing performance, we went over to the film tent (this actually is a tent - a huge circus tent) to try and get to see what Lebowskifest was all about. Apparently, there are celebrations each year all over the country honoring the modern cult classic movie, The Big Lebowski, with people dressed as characters from the film, free bowling (a major theme in the movie) and other weird and wonderful goings-on. However, like the Comedy Tent nearby, you have to wait in line in the sweltering heat to get in this "barely" air-conditioned venue and they are extremely popular. Since they are enclosed, it is also somewhat finite in available space and there always seems to be a line to get it. After 15 minutes of standing in a line that was not moving, we decided to skip it and head back to the trailer for some real air-conditioning and a little rest to gear up for what we knew would be a long night with The Boss.
Our friends, Brandon and Katherine, had scored some free passes (lucky dogs) that day and were wanting to meet us for the Elvis Costello show as well as to see Bruce and the E Streeters afterwards. We met up with them outside That Tent in time to hear the crowd erupt as Elvis Costello took the stage for an acoustic set. OK, we admit it, we thought he was a little boring. Tons of people love the guy and he had a huge crowd, but we just don't see the appeal. Sorry, Elvis. Before the Springsteen show we stopped by the small Solar Stage to check out a few songs by an alt-bluegrass band from Knoxville known as The Black Lillies. They were pretty darn good and can now always say they "technically" opened for Springsteen one time!
Springsteen live. Wow! You hear people talk about it, you see it on TV and think, "yeah, OK, I am sure he and the band are good, but is it really that big a deal." Oh, yeah, it is that big a deal. The man is simply amazing. He will be 60 this year and he came on a litte after 9 PM and did not slow down for three and half hours ---not a lot of long drawn-out yapping between songs, zero interludes or long solos - just Bruce and the band banging out song after song. New stuff, old stuff, stuff we had never heard before and even "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" - hey, he was taking requests and someone wanted to hear it...and it was awesome! They are simply some of the greatest entertainers we have ever seen and we have seen some good ones including The Rolling Stones, Robin Williams, Garth Brooks, Billy Joel & Elton John, Cher, etc. Our hats are off once again to the sound folks at Bonnaroo as well. They provide world-class sound for all these performers that is just amazing for an outdoor venue. What a day, what a festival! Thank youuuuuuuu, Bonnarooooooo!!!
We tried our best to sit in for a few minutes of Ben Harper and the Relentless 7 playing at This Tent after the Springsteen show, but we were just too spent (yeah, we're old). We will catch you sometime later, Ben. Keep on rockin'.

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