Sneaking up on Bonnaroo

In less than two weeks I’ll be heading to Manchester, Tennessee with over 80,000 other folks in search of “an experience”. This year I’m not attending as  a patron of the festival, but as a vendor. Ten of us will be assisting over 500 people in building their own drums. I’m holding my breath, because I already know that this is going to be one of the most physically demanding four days I’ve had in years. From a simple wood shell to slap, tone, and bass, you’ve heard me talk about this process before if you’ve read my blog in the past six months. If not, you can see my post about drum building in the related articles at the end of this post. 

I decided tonight that it was time to look at the festival lineup. No, I hadn’t done this yet except to say that I knew Robert Plant was performing. I heard his set at Jazz Fest, and if I get close enough at Bonnaroo to lick the ground he walks on, I just might.  Ok – maybe not, but I like him. A lot. You do get that, right? …  So, who else do we have this year that bleeps on my radar? Eminem. Buffalo Springfield. Bassnectar. GirlTalk. Alison Krauss. Old Crow Medicine Show. G. Love. Loretta Lynn (Yes, I’m leaving out the New Orleanians on the list so throw me to the gators, into a vat of erl or berlin’ water, or make my mama slap me…  – and there are several, but as I’ll be working 95% of the time, I have to pick and choose my battles wisely – I’ve seen most (if not all) of the New Orleanians live).

I’m excited. Even if I don’t get to see any of the above artists (though I’m sure I’ll slip into a few sets), the drum building process is so therapeutic for me. I love it, and this weekend will certainly test just how much I love it. From an ethnographers’ (let alone ethnomusicologists’) point of view, this is something very unique – being part of a massive effort to create musical instruments – to enable revelry, debauchery, healing, musicality, and everything else that comes as a result of it… is magical. Yes, I will be documenting, taking field notes, photos, and video as much as possible. 500 drums in four days with an amazing live soundtrack while I work… talk about a soundscape… talk about an ethnomusicologist in heaven.

The next question is this – what the hell do I bring?

That’s all for now. Cheers, y’all.

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