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Bonnaroo: Best sellers

From the folks at lala.com and Newbury Comics, here are the top sellers from the CD tent at Bonnaroo last weekend:

1. One Man Revolution, The Nightwatchman
2. Grand National, John Butler Trio
3. Alright, Still, Lily Allen
4. Rodrigo y Gabriela, Rodrigo y Gabriela
5. Sing Song, The Little Ones
6. Begin to Hope, Regina Spektor
7. Elko, Railroad Earth
8. Ash Wednesday, Elvis Perkins
9. Live at Bonnaroo, Warren Haynes
10. Waterloo, Tennessee, Uncle Earl

And here are Bonnaroo's best-selling artists overall:

1. The John Butler Trio
2. The Nightwatchman
3. Regina Spektor
4. Lily Allen
5. Rodrigo y Gabriela
6. The Little Ones
7. Gov't Mule
8. Ziggy Marley
9. Xavier Rudd
10. Brazilian Girls

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: Developments in the field

Bonnaroo organizers brought down a group of music-industry executives yesterday, gave them a tour of the grounds and let them watch the Police. Could a country festival, a la Stagecoach, be in the works?

"I think if we do the country thing here, it'll have to be a whole lifestyle thing"  with things like Motocross, Southern food and paintball," says SuperFly Productions' Rick Farman, one of Bonnaroo's creators. "I think what you'll see first -- we've already been talking to some promoters -- is a Christian rock festival."

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: The Police report

The Police could've done anything they wanted and received thunderous applause as Saturday's Bonnaroo headliners. Opening with Message in a Bottle and finishing slightly less than two hours later with Next to You, the band gave Bonnaroo familiar favorites, but often with new approaches.

It's amazing just how much music these three musicians can create -- and it's to their credit that they didn't bring additional musicians or backing tapes -- but it's also remarkable how much more they put on their recordings. The band has rearranged several songs, notably Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic and Walking in Your Footsteps. In a marked change from early-career shows, where the trio often performed their material at breakneck tempos, some of these songs, like Truth Hits Everybody and Wrapped Around Your Finger, have slowed considerably with passing years.

Not that any of the 80,000 people there -- and pretty much everybody who came to Bonnaroo had crowded into the main field -- cared.

"I was way too obsessive about them when I was younger; I can't watch it objectively," said Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, who estimates he saw the band 25 times during its original run but hadn't caught the reunion tour yet. "I worshipped this band my whole childhood."

The band apparently has tightened its act since the disastrous Vancouver gig drummer Stewart Copeland wrote about in his blog. The group also played fewer songs for the Bonnaroo crowd than they've performed at other tour stops, omitting numbers like Don't Stand So Close to Me and Spirits in the Material World that they've included during other shows.

Here's the set list:

Message in a Bottle
Synchronicity II
Walking on the Moon
Driven to Tears
Voices Inside My Head/When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around
Truth Hits Everybody
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
The Bed's Too Big Without You
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
Walking in Your Footsteps
Can't Stand Losing You
Roxanne
King of Pain
So Lonely
Every Breath You Take
Next to You

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: Surprise, surprise

Musicians traditionally use Bonnaroo as a chance to sit in with other acts, and this year was no exception. Tom Morello sat in with Tool last night. Mandolin player Sam Bush and guitarist Buddy Miller put in appearances with Dierks Bentley. (And Mavis Staples is rumored to be singing The Weight Sunday with The Decemberists.)

Former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones has kept as busy as anybody, even though he didn’t have a formal set scheduled.

In addition to taking part in Friday’s late-night SuperJam, Jones appeared with Ben Harper and played mandolin with Gillian Welch and Uncle Earl, the female bluegrass group whose second album he recently produced. He also plans to play organ during Gov't Mule's late-night set tonight.

“The more instruments you play, it increases your chances of sitting in,” Jones says. “If you play mandolin, it’s easier to sit in than with a bass. You don’t have to know the changes –- you can just play stops. And there’s always a bass player, so you have to move somebody over. Plus, the mandolin’s smaller.”

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: A serious note

The festival-goer who died Friday has been identified as Cody L. Conover, 25, of Lancaster, Ky. He was pronounced dead on arrival yesterday morning at United Regional Medical Center in Manchester.

"The parents are here; they are collecting his personal belongings," Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves said Saturday afternoon. Conover's body has been taken to the Nashville medical examiner's office.

According to Sheriff Graves, Conover's death has been Bonnaroo's only serious incident. "Of course, there have been a number of arrests but, considering the crowd, not that many."

 

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: Lily Allen, off the wagon

Looks like Lily Allen's pledge of sobriety didn't last long.

"Okay, I'm really drunk now!" she shouted toward the end of her set. "Anyone want some Jaeger? There's only one left. ... There actually is none left. That means I drank the whole [expletive] bottle.

"That wasn't a joke - guess that means I'm hardcore.

"For once, I remembered all my words, which is good."

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: On her best behavior

Recent show cancellations and in-concert fiascos have made Lily Allen popular gossip-blog fodder, and backstage Bonnaroo is thick with bloggers.

“Yeah, that’s why I’m not drinking,” Allen told reporters at a Friday afternoon press conference. “Nothing exciting’s going to happen.

“I just wish Paris Hilton and Lindsay (Lohan) were here, then everybody would leave me alone.”

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: Ulterior motive

Drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson appears three times during Bonnaroo –- with hip-hop collective The Roots, eclectic jazz trio the Philadelphia Experiment and as part of a late-night SuperJam with former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and guitarist Ben Harper. But that’s not the real reason he’s here.

“The truth was, I wanted to ensure I could be here for The Police,” Thompson says. “I told them I’d do anything and everything, including trash pickup. I’m putting in my 10 hours just to see The Police.” Thompson requested a photographer’s pass just so he could get to the foot of the stage: “At least for three songs, I’ll have a good spot.”

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: Richard Thompson's Iraq & roll

Richard Thompson put on a guitar clinic Friday afternoon, with a set highlighted by a masterful solo version of 1952 Vincent Black Lightning and a pair of songs from his new Sweet Warrior album, Take Care the Road You Choose and Dad’s Gonna Kill Me, sung from the perspective of a fearful young soldier in Iraq. “I thought it went over pretty well, actually,” Thompson said later. “I mean, it usually does. But I think that’s in keeping with current polls and demographics suggesting that the war’s very unpopular and people want the troops to come home.”

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: Secrets to a happy festival

At my first Bonnaroo, a security guard told me her job was easier when the festival had two things: enough rain to keep everybody cool and enough pot to keep everybody docile.

There hasn’t been a shortage of the latter, but until Friday afternoon the fields of Manchester, Tenn., hadn’t seen rain in more than a week. Tens of thousands of sandals kicked up a fine haze of dust, covering napping festival-goers that wore out early in a layer of grit and grime.

“Some of these kids are gone, already,” said comedian David Cross, who arrived on Wednesday. “The festival’s over for them, before a note of music was played.”

A brief shower finally dampened the dust around 3:45 p.m. –- just as Kings of Leon took the main stage. That wasn’t the only problem the band had. The sound cut out midway through the set, leaving the part of the crowd nearest the stage clapping along to nothing but the drummer.

“I’m sorry about that,” singer Caleb Followill said after the problem was rectified. “I don’t know what that was.”

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: Dr. Dog's days

Scott McMicken’s band, Dr. Dog, was a last-minute addition to Bonnaroo 2006. “We crept our way in,” says the singer/guitarist for the Philadelphia band. “Somebody canceled about a week before.” This year, Dr. Dog is back, with two sets scheduled. McMicken says he enjoys seeing generations’ worth of people in the Bonnaroo audience. “if you can get a kid to dance, or get a song stuck in a kid’s head, that’s a great musical achievement,” he says.

McMicken’s early Bonnaroo highlight came from Apollo Sunshine’s Thursday set. “I saw them, and I felt like a part of me that was dead came back,” he says. “I just wanted to go home and get in the studio.

“I hope there’s a lot more Apollo Sunshines out there in the next couple of days.”

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: Dierks Bentley's first impressions

Country singer Dierks Bentley made his first trip to Bonnaroo today, after flying in from a concert in Iowa Thursday night. As the only mainstream country act on the bill, Bentley says he enjoys the prospects of playing in front of a crowd that not only might not know him, but might not be predisposed to his music.

“It gives me and the guys a chance to get ourselves in trouble and play our way out of it,” he says. “I like a challenge.”

Bentley says one thing he has in common with the other Bonnaroo bands is the value he places on the live experience. “We sometimes mask talent with a lot of distortion pedals and volume -– and a lot of black clothing,” he jokes. But he's serious when he says: “We put a big premium on the live show. The experience –- for me and the guys in my band -– we live and die by it. We’ve got to get a lot out of it, as well as the audience.”

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: Smell you later

The first thing Spearhead’s Michael Franti does when he gets to Bonnaroo, he says, is check the Porta Potties. “You can tell what state the festival is in,” the Bonnaroo veteran says. “If you go in Saturday, it’s a whole different experience. I got in there early today.”

Franti says he likes to walk around the festival and hear its different genres of music. “This festival has a great lineup, a great curating,” he says. “To me, it makes it more an international destination that people come to.”

For Franti, Bonnaroo represents more than music, since it also includes artistic and theatrical elements. “I’m happy to see it’s gone from a field of people listening to music to being more of an artistic experience,” he says. And as much as he enjoys catching other acts, the most interesting people he meets aren’t always the musicians.

“I meet people that are selling jalapeno corn dogs or doing face painting, or somebody you just happen to sit down next to in the grass,” he says. “Those are the things I feel the most enriched by.”

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: They were lookin', tryin' to book 'em

Looks like drug busts are up this year at Bonnaroo. State revenuers are out in force, too, seeking to collect fees on the drugs that the Coffee County Sheriff's Department finds as they search festival-goers entering the grounds.

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: Nude development

It’s a rite of passage, I guess: the first Naked Guy at Bonnaroo. This year's Naked Guy –- at least the first one I saw –- took the stage at 10:25 p.m. during the middle of Mute Math’s set, pumping his fists for a good 20 seconds before security  grabbed him and pulled him off stage (now there's a job I wouldn't want). At least this year's guy had better sense than the one last year, who climbed the lighting rig during a Dios (Malos) show, slipped and fractured his leg.

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: Nothing funny about standing in line

Thursday night is a good time to discover talent at Bonnaroo, with outside-the-mainstream acts like indie-rockers Mute Math, neo-flamenco duo Rodrigo y Gabriela and the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars. But the hot ticket –- or, rather, the cool one –- seems to be the Somethin’ Else tent, which features jazz acts like saxophonist Lou Donaldson and organist Lonnie Smith, and the Yet Another (Comedy) Tent, where comedian Lewis Black is holding court. Both had hundreds of people waiting in line to get into the air-conditioned tents.

“We heard the line was even longer for the first show,” said Faye Douthat of Saline, Mich., the last person in line to get into the comedy tent.

“The only thing funnier than Lewis Black is this line,” said Jay Stallworth of Mobile, Ala.

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: Some sweet soul music

Ryan Shaw kicked off Bonnaroo 2007 Thursday evening with a set of feel-good retro R&B. The dreadlocked 26-year-old led his three-piece band through a house-wrecking set of originals and vintage R&B, including covers of The Falcons’ I Found a Love and The Sharpees’ Do the 45. Shaw learned his style from the early R&B masters like Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke, who learned the ropes from the Golden Age of gospel greats. So there was plenty of testifying, especially when he sang If I Had a Hammer, a song he said he learned in Sunday school in Decatur, Ga.

Shaw also knew that most of the crowd, large and enthusiastic as it was, probably had little idea who he was. “In case you were just wandering by and you heard something that you liked, my name is Ryan Shaw,” he told his audience more than once. They probably won’t soon forget.

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: This I gotta see

Bonnaroo may once have had the reputation as a hangout for modern-day hippies, but with acts like The Police, Dierks Bentley and the White Stripes playing this year, it’s not that anymore.

The best thing about Bonnaroo continues to be the variety of acts that play the festival. No matter what kind of music you like, you'll find plenty to fill your time -– and you're also sure to discover something you've never heard before.

“I’m old and in the way,” says Jay Stallworth, 40, of Mobile, Ala., who's here with his wife and 8-year-old son. “It’s nice to be here and get turned on to some new music.”

Here's my Top 10 Must-See List. Some acts are on here because I know how great they can be, others because I’ve never seen them before:

1.    The Police
2.    Richard Thompson
3.    Ryan Shaw
4.    The White Stripes
5.    Ornette Coleman
6.    Cold War Kids
7.    Mavis Staples
8.    T-Bone Burnett
9.    The Nightwatchman
10.   Dierks Bentley

Check out the Bonnaroo schedule and let me know who else you think I shouldn’t miss.

-- B.M.

Bonnaroo: What were they thinkin'?

For the first time in Bonnaroo history, as far as I know, a current country star is making the trip from Nashville. Emmylou Harris and Ricky Skaggs have played in the past, and so have bluegrassers like Del McCoury, but nobody who's currently having hits on country radio has hopped on their bus and headed down I-24 to Manchester.

It’s appropriate that Dierks Bentley be the trailblazer. It’s a great booking, both for him and for Bonnaroo. Dierks, who’s in his first full year of headlining concert halls, is determined to break the mold for country shows. He borrows a little from bluegrass, a little from Texas guys like Pat Green, and his shows change pretty dramatically depending on where he’s playing.

I was talking with Dierks yesterday for tomorrow's ticketing story, and we chatted a little about his Bonnaroo set.

“It’s fun for us as a band,” he says. “It doesn’t feel so much like a gig, it feels like a musical experiment. It’s going to be fun to see how it turns out.” Bentley has a 90-minute set at 5:45 p.m. Friday at The Other Tent. He says the first half will look a lot like his regular set, “then we’re going to move into a different area. We’ll see how it goes.”

Bentley has done enough Bonnaroo homework that he’s planning on bringing a couple of guests for his show. He’s also hoping to arrive early enough Friday to catch Kings of Leon and Gillian Welch.

-- Brian Mansfield