Bri Blahg… Bonnaroo Day 4…. What’s Real, What’s Not, and Baby Eating Brits

14 06 2009

by Brian Phillips (@BrianBlahg)

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Elvis Perkins, 12:30pm Saturday, This Tent

Day Four… Morning…. Overcast, warm, humid. Why do I give you a weather report? I’m still traumatized by all the rain Thursday. By talking about the weather I’m fooling myself into believing I can control it. Besides I have worse problems. My van (down by the puddle) needs a jump. I’ve secured cables so it should be fine… unless…. there’s a more serious problem under the hood. So anyway if you have a van with power side doors and back hatch, don’t keep opening them all weekend without starting the engine that’s all I’m saying.

Yesterday was lovely thank you. I hardly recognized Elvis Perkins as he has grown his hair out. That is until he started playing. Calling Perkins an Americana artist is true enough, but there is a lot more going on there. His band is cracker jack too.

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Saturday Press Conference

At 1pm I sat in on a press conference featuring Robyn Hitchcock… which would be wonderful in and of itself. At Bonnaroo though they put panels together not unlike Bill Maher. Joining Sir Robyn was Margaret Cho (because we need someone to use the word ejaculate on the same stage as….) Robert Kennedy Junior, Jimmy Buffett, Buffett discovery Ilo and Brett Dennen. We’ll be posting the entire exchange as soon as possible. They chatted about everything from coal companies committing treason (an impassioned RFK Jr.) to eating babies (Robyn Hitchcock, and he was just kidding. If there were any real danger I trust Kennedy to handle it).

more from Saturday at the ‘Roo after the jump…

DSC_4859After that both Hitchcock and I needed to get to his show. We were both on time. Hitchcock did not disappoint, noting that he had not been to a music festival since the 1970 Isle Of Wright (headliner Jimi Hendrix). Hitchock said after his gig he would be seeing Hendrix in a tent by himself.

Robyn was backed by The Venus 3. On the guitar, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, on the bass Scott McCaughy, and behind the kit Bill Reiflin, who qualifies for his many years in Ministry (seriously). I’m certain Hitchcock is a more nurturing boss than Alan Jourgenson. It’s great to see McCaughy, the long running head of the musical collective The Minus 5, R.E.M. utility infielder since 1995, and once and again fronting the legendary Young Fresh Fellows. The Fellows were my Grateful Dead. I saw them numerous times all over the Northwest as a young man. They’ll have a new album in July, their first in almost a decade. Hitchcock and mates sounded wonderful, kicking off their set with the timeless “I Often Dream Of Trains.”

DSC_5065I shot a bit of Gov’t Mule. I swear Warren Haynes lives somewhere on the Bonnaroo site. He’s here every year doing something. The Mule was kicking. A man who has never been here to my knowledge is Booker T. Joined by the always saucy Drive By Truckers they ripped through songs from their first record together, and of course standards like “Green Onions.” Patterson Hood had a big ole grin.

I can’t wait to get my interview with Grace Potter posted (here it is). The Vermont singer front woman is working on the next Grace Potter & The Nocturnals record with T. Bone Burnett. She says the project is amazing and I believe her. She’s a pistol that Potter.

Elvis Costello was billed as solo and when I snapped photos and video he was. “Radio Radio” and “Angels Want To Where My Red Shoes” still crackle, even without the band. Dashing over for a bit of Wilco on the main stage I found Jeff Tweedy in great spirits, even letting one of the videographers strum his guitar. Can’t wait for the new record. Returning for the end of Costello I quickly realized the show had taken on another form. Jenny Lewis and I believe her backing band took the stage and roared through a few numbers closing with a smokin’ shootout take on “Peace, Love And Understanding.” Costello was even windmilling ala Pete Townsend at the end. I’ve never seen Costello have so much fun. He and Lewis sing beautifully together. The crowd demanded more but time was up apparently.

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street band launched into “Badlands” at around 9:30. Rousing indeed, but four songs in he was doing the dreadful “Outlaw Pete” from his latest. I found myself trying to get into it having never seen Bruce before, and I just couldn’t. I think the problem lies with the fact that it still seemed like a TV show. Springsteen is such an out character in our culture by now, that I have trouble believing he really exists. Yes that’s it exactly Brian, Bruce Springsteen is all in our collective imaginations. He’s not real and never has been. I tried. Elvis Costello and Robyn Hitchcock on the other hand? Very real.

My long day and night closed with Nine Inch Nails. It was the punishment we all needed and deserved. No messing around here. Brutal, cathartic.

Today? My long sought interview with the haunting Jessica Lea Mayfield. Ted Leo, Okkervil River, Merle Haggard, Band Of Horses and my Sunday topper the one woman storm front Neko Case!

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