Bonnaroo marks music's 'different world'
Latest News | July 13, 2015
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MANCHESTER, Tennessee (CNN) -
The New Breed Brass Band felt right at home leading an enthusiastic crowd of dancers, singing along in their eccentric hats and costumes, through a colorful, adrenaline-fueled second line parade at Bonnaroo.
Upcoming Music Festivals
They led second lines on two consecutive days, adding some New Orleans flavor to the Manchester, Tennessee, festival that takes its name from a creole blues and rock legend.
A few hours later, the young New Orleans musicians, all protégés of Crescent City hero Trombone Shorty, played a packed and rowdy club stage called The Christmas Barn, named after the Tulane University dive bar, Snake And Jake's Christmas Club Lounge.
With more than 125 bands and 20 comedians performing over the long weekend, flavor from the Big Easy is always included in what is often described by artists and fans as "Disneyland for music lovers."
The festival is named after Dr. John's 1974 album, "Desitively Bonnaroo," which means "a really good time" in creole slang, and that's definitely been the vibe here since the festival's 2002 birth.
Eighty-thousand music lovers annually flock to the place now known as "the farm," which spans about 375 football fields and boasts at least 12 stages.
To give you an idea of the diversity of talent on display this year, here are a few highlights:
-- A commanding headlining set by hip-hop star Kendrick Lamar.
-- The newly "plugged in" Mumford & Sons rocking out the main stage.
-- A gutsy performance by roots rock band Alabama Shakes.
-- A late night dance party with electronic dance music guru Deadmau5.
-- A raging blues set from Gary Clark Jr.
-- Sets from longtime greats such as Billy Joel, Robert Plant and Earth Wind & Fire.
Bonnaroo vets on a wild ride
"This is a different world. It's like going to Mars or a different dimension," Jim James, lead singer of My Morning Jacket, told CNN.
A long-time favorite of Bonnaroovians, MMJ returned to the main stage for its seventh show at Bonnaroo. The band grew up here, and James, a spiritual fellow, describes each trip to Manchester as a pivotal moment in his life.
"For me, it's all about stepping out of reality for a little while and just come to a place where you can be who you want to be and do what you want to do in this freeing way," he said. "It's just a good place to get lost and forget about life for a while -- in a good way."
When co-creators Superfly Presents and AC Entertainment organized the inaugural festival 13 years ago, it wasn't like the festival scene today, when it seems like large-scale events unfold almost every other summer weekend in America.
This year alone will see about 1,500 multiday music festivals in more than 70 countries. The explosion of such events has dramatically changed the concert industry landscape -- and the way fans experience live music.
This year, Bonnaroo's promoters sold a controlling interest of their festival to Live Nation Entertainment, and the plan is to add more infrastructure to the musical landmark.
"It's crazy the era of music festivals we are in because there is so much music," said James, who thinks it's a good thing and draws parallels to how much content is also available online. "There is so much information available to everyone right now, and I think we are just at a crossover point."
And now for the superjams!
And perhaps nothing about Bonnaroo says crossover like the festival's superjams, once-in-a lifetime collaborations that have become legendary.
This year's "Throwback SuperJam Dance Party" began at 1:30 a.m. Saturday with Pretty Lights, DMC of Run DMC, Rob Trujillo of Metallica, Chance the Rapper, comedian Reggie Watts, saxophonist and singer Karl Denson and many more.
The first festival that members of Earth Wind & Fire say they played was the California Jam at Ontario Motor Speedway in 1974.