BONNAROO MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL 2009

This year’s Bonnaroo Music Festival offered a fine mix of music from bluegrass to reggae to indie rock and jam bands to afro-pop and electronica music. The reggae musicians included Midnite, the Itals, and the Wailing Souls. I unfortunately missed Midnite on Thursday but I got to see amazing sets from the Itals and Wailing Souls. The Itals played roots reggae including songs like “In a Dis Ya Time.” And they played new cuts from the upcoming album Let Them Talk. The Wailing Souls played Saturday and dropped roots reggae classics like “Shark Attack ” alongside reggae covers of the Doors song “Love Her Madly” and the Grateful Dead classic “Casey Jones.” The Wailing Souls also played “War Down at the Pawn Shop” a track written by Sublime headman Bradley Nowell.

Phish played two shows. The first show on Friday night rocked with originals like “You Enjoy Myself” “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Wading In The Velvet Sea,” and “Chalk Dust Torture” and a cover of AC/DC‘s “Highway to Hell.” For an encore Phish covered the Beatles‘ “A Day in the Life.” The second show on Sunday night included a guest appearance by the Boss–Bruce Springsteen. The Boss and Phish played a brilliant extended version of “Mustang Sally.” Trey Anastasio and the Boss traded and then dueled guitar solos. It was an amazing show with a jammed out version of “Glory Days.”

Bruce Springsteen played his three hour show on Saturday Night with the amazing E-Street Band, which included Max Weinberg on drums. “Outlaw Pete,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Born to Run,” “Dancing in the Dark,” and “Devils & Dust” among other favorites kept the crowd on its feet. The Boss is quite a performer and storyteller.

The Beastie Boys played an amazing and energetic set with favorites like “So What’Cha Want [Explicit],” “Sabotage,” “Shake Your Rump,” “Paul Revere,” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” on the set list alongside punk rock favorites “Gratitude [Explicit],” “Tough Guy,” “Egg Raid On Mojo [Explicit],” and “Heart Attack Man.” Instrumental Jams like “Sabrosa” laced the Hip Hop and Punk Rock tracks. The Beastie’s DJ Mixmaster Mike is more than a DJ. The man is an exquisite turntablist and musician. MCA, Mike D, and AD Rock still have it going on after all these years. Also rapper NAS performed with the Beastie Boys on a track coming soon on the new Beastie album.

Rodrigo y Gabriela, Santagold, Girl Talk, Brett Dennen, Amadou & Mariom, Booker T with the Drive-By Truckers, Gov’t Mule, Merle Haggard, the Decemberists, and Snoop Dogg all played notable sets. I caught Booker T and the DBTs (Drive By Truckers) playing “Green Onions” and Merle Haggard covering Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Jackson.” The Hag played his own hits too, singing “Mama Tried,” “Working Man Blues,” “That’s The Way Love Goes,” and “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.”

Immediately after seeing Merle Haggard’s set I trucked to the main “What Stage” to see Snoop Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound. Snoop strolled through hits “Gin And Juice,” “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?,” “Ain’t No Fun.” The LBC rappers paid tribute to 2pac with “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted.” Snoop can still move the crowd. He even transitioned into Jamaican patois at one point sounding pretty good as a potential dancehall artist. Snoop needs to do a reggae album.  Merle Haggard and Snoop opening for Phish Sunday night seemed a perfect way to end this diverse mix of music.



BONNAROO MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL 2009

Jam-Tex Top 10 Albums: August 2008

1. Cutty RanksReggae Anthology: Limb By Limb [VP Records 2008]
2. SeraniThe Future (Doh!) [2008]
3. Girl TalkFeed the Animals [Illegal Art 2008]
4. Randy NewmanHarps and Angels [Nonesuch 2008]
5. Joe Gibbs & Errol Thompson – Reggae Anthology: Scorchers from the Mighty Two [VP Records 2008]
6. Randy TravisAround the Bend [Warner Brothers 2008]
7. Eleven Hundred SpringsCountry Jam [Palo Duro Records 2008]
8. CultureCulture & the DeeJay’s at Joe Gibbss [VP Records 2008]
9. Old 97’s Blame It on Gravity [New West 2008]
10. Luke Doucet Blood’s Too Rich [Six Shooter Records 2008]

Cutty Ranks, the original dancehall ragamuffin, slays deejays with his rough, raw, and precise rhymes on songs like “A Who Seh Me Dun,” “Gunman Lyrics,” “Stopper,” and “Limb by Limb.” But also the boss deejay turns out to be quite the lady killer, toasting over reggae crooners, such as Dennis Brown, Marcia Griffiths, Beres Hammond, and Wayne Wonder, and making panties wet from Oisten, Barbados to Austin, Texas.

On a trip to Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines I found myself listening to the new dancehall sensation Serani. His album The Future (Doh!) assembles some of the newest hits, including “She Loves Me” and “Doh” featuring ragga general Bugle. Since I was with my lady I found the song “She Loves Me” perfectly sensual for afternoon romps. Jah blessed Young Island on St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Serani and the sunset made for a perfect romantic setting. Serani played on the local radio stations in the Caribbean, blazing up digicel’s hot caribbean 30, but also country music emanated from the radios in the Grenadines. Randy Travis was a favorite among local sail boat captains and cooks. Truly country music is global and the people of the Caribbean respect its soulful sounds.

Singer-songwriter Randy Newman took time off from producing timeless movie soundtracks to drop a new album and to unleash a timeless criticism of the current administration. Newman sings in “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country:”

A President once said,
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
Now it seems like we’re supposed to be afraid
It’s patriotic in fact and color coded
And what are we supposed to be afraid of?
Why, of being afraid
That’s what terror means, doesn’t it?
That’s what it used to mean

And then Newman brings it home:

The end of an empire is messy at best
And this empire is ending
Like all the rest
Like the Spanish Armada adrift on the sea
We’re adrift in the land of the brave
And the home of the free

Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

Randy Newman you have got a friend in me!

Jam-Tex Top 10 Albums: August 2008