When you see all the photos from Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival this weekend — the crowds of folks and tents and arm-swaying humanity — remember that this is what it looked like before the gates opened today. Bonnaroo home Manchester, Tennessee, also is my hometown. I was there earlier this week visiting my mom and dad and we drove out to look at the 700-acre site, just about four or five miles from my parents’ house. On one hand, it’s out in the country on one of those narrow winding two-lane rural roads that natives take at about 80 miles an hour and everybody else creeps along. On the other hand, Bonnaroo is only a few yards up a hill from an everyday residential neighborhood that in the course of normal events usually does not play host to the likes of Steve Martin and Dave Matthews. Except during Bonnaroo. Because then my normal and everyday Tennessee hometown goes suddenly crazy. But in a fun way. On the Tuesday night of our drive by, the muscley official Bonnaroo guys riding four-wheelers around to check out the generators and fences and all the million details of the Bonnaroo infrastructure — they’ve built a city there, people — far outnumbered the trickle of regular folks who were starting to congregate. And on our closeup view, I noticed that those who live adjacent to the Bonnaroo site adopt one of two strategies for the duration: They either 1) abandon all hope and rent their houses out to Bonnaroo people or 2) go all in and rent out their yard space to vendors, open their doors to anyone who needs a roof and join in the party. One enterprising woman set up an awning, tables, chairs and grill and declared it to be “Momaroo’s Kitchen.” Why not? This morning the long line of traffic from everywhere else made its way slowly but efficiently to the Bonnaroo gates, and the good times began. Learn more about Bonnaroo and follow along at http://www.bonnaroo.com/.
I admit I’m not young and cool. I admit I think Lady Gaga should put some pants on. I admit I’m in that demographic of Super Bowl halftime-show viewers who said, “You know, Pete and Roger haven’t changed that much since I first saw them in ’75. When we had to walk 10 miles in the snow uphill both ways to get to the show.” But I was blown away by the great music I heard on the recent Grammy Award broadcast. I mean, despite Lady Gaga’s weird green Tinkerbell ensemble, her performance was powerfully awesome. Same with Beyonce and Pink. And Green Day and Kings of Leon. And I found myself tapping and clapping along with newcomer the Zac Brown Band. And Taylor Swift was intriguing — I mean, she knows she can’t sing but she’s so supremely confident that she does it anyway? Who is this kid??? So then I wanted to hear more from these folks — and of course classic favorites such as the Dave Matthews Band and even the Black-Eyed Peas. If I were music-savvy and had plenty of money, I’m sure I’d already have a Grammy-worthy CD and iTunes collection. But I’m not and I don’t. So, Wal-Mart to the rescue! Running past the electronics department — between office supplies and dairy — I spotted this $11 CD of Grammy nominees and I’ve been rocking out ever since. I promise you have to smile when you hear Fergie promising you a good night and Sugarland bemoaning that “It Happens.” You can order it from http://www.grammy.com/, too. This is like bullet points for pop music of the past few months — your kids and friends will be impressed.
This is what my hometown of Manchester, Tennessee, looks like right now with the more than 75,000 people there for Bonnaroo. Actually, Manchester proper is to the upper left of this photo — and that’s close enough, most locals would agree. Dear Husband and I had contemplated going this year, especially since some of our favorites (Bruce Springsteen, The Decemberists) were going to be there, but in order for us 50-somethings to enjoy the experience we would have had to have chosen the ultra-deluxe-VIP options ticket-wise, which pushed the costs up to $$$$. So we chose instead to spend our wedding anniversary weekend in nearby Murfreesboro trying to guess which performers were staying at our hotel. http://www.bonnaroo.com
Oh my gosh, y’all. Bruce Springsteen is going to be in my backyard this June. Well, my parents’ backyard, really. And actually not their backyard at all, but at least in my hometown of Manchester, Tennessee. That’s where the four-day music festival Bonnaroo is on a 700-acre farm every second weekend in June. Bonnaroo started in 2002 as a jam-band gathering and now tens of thousands of fans jam the festival grounds to hear some of music’s best. The first couple years, my dad’s Rotary club helped out with parking. Now, my parents usually head out of town when it’s Bonnaroo time, although the crowds generally don’t overflow to Manchester proper. And I am sort of kind of somewhat seriously thinking of trying maybe to go this year, although tickets are at least $250 (am I the only one who remembers when concert tickets were less than $25???) and it’s hot and that’s my fifth wedding anniversary weekend and I could probably talk my husband into a really nice evening out instead. Hmm …