Friday , January 21 2022

(Mostly) Live and Active

Although I haven’t attended, I am totally down with the Bonnaroo concept of peace, love and eclectic jam bands, and I have no problem with declaring this year’s show another success – the numbers speak for themselves. But what I don’t get is an extended pat on one’s back that conveniently leaves out the fact that this year two PEOPLE DIED. I’m not blaming the festival – it’s amazing no one died the first two years with that number of people getting stoned and running around – but to crow about the success of the festival and not even acknowledge this unfortunate news is disrespectful and disingenuous:


    For the third straight year, Bonnaroo, the nation’s largest music and camping festival, is being heralded by fans, critics, artists, and the music industry as both a musical and logistical success. “I think it’s really the first festival in America to be this successful, if for no other reason than celebrating music,” said festival performer Dave Matthews during a backstage press conference. “People come to hang out in the middle of nowhere to smell each other’s funk and listen to great eclectic music from all corners of the industry.”

    Each year, Bonnaroo’s eclectic lineup and open-minded audience gives rise to unique entertainment options and monumental live music moments. Guitar visionary Adrian Belew joined a reunited Primus during a 2 a.m. performance on the second stage. Kentucky rock band My Morning Jacket played a transcendental set through afternoon rain. Dave Matthews & Friends, with Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, delivered a spirited set of Matthews favorites, funk covers, and Phish sing-along staples. Fans at Bonnaroo 2004 also saw exceptional performances by a range of acts that swept the style spectrum, including rock band Kings of Leon, bluegrass legend Doc Watson, punk rock veteran Patti Smith, and the ’80s alternative rock hybrid of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker. The festival’s final slot belonged to Anastasio, who treated the adoring crowd to a set of songs from his solo album arranged for the 40-piece Nashville Chamber Orchestra, and a second set of songs by his ten-member band, punctuated by a grand fireworks display. As noted, “It’s one thing to hear artists, fans, promoters, and publicists
    pay lip service to Bonnaroo’s vibe, its sense of musical community, and the likeminded attitude that its seemingly disparate acts share. But it’s quite another thing to feel them firsthand.”

    Once again, Bonnaroo sold out in advance, this year a staggering 90,000 tickets, up 10,000 from last year. In addition to patrons, Bonnaroo hosted an estimated 5,000 extra people, including special guests, staff, and band members for a total of approximately 95,000 people on site. The Nashville Scene remarked, “Davidson County city planners would do well to offer a consulting contract to Bonnaroo’s organizers. An event of this size is always a potential train wreck, and the logistics are mind-boggling. Yet everything, save the weather, went smoothly. There was enough food, water and facilities, and lines were reasonable”. The article continues, “There’s little doubt that this was a much safer environment than your typical Titans game. There were virtually no altercations, and people left their campsites unattended and cars unlocked with little fear that they’d be burgled.”

    Arrests at Bonnaroo were few, with a total of only 27 reported by the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department, Manchester Police Department, and the Tennessee State Highway patrol, according to Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves. Organizers improved traffic flow again this year. Local roads were clearer than in previous years, and most patrons enjoyed shorter delays getting in and out of the campgrounds. Bonnaroo once again had a significant economic impact on the local communities of Coffee County, the City of Manchester and surrounding areas. Promoters are expected to pay an estimated $1.4 million in taxes, and an additional $180,000 has already been raised for local charitable causes, with more to be donated in the near future.

Downhill Battle – the activist pro-file sharing, pro-sampling/mashup, anti-restrictive copyright, anti-RIAA organization – has begun a new campaign, the 2004 Summer Concert Blitz:

    Downhill Battle was at the Middle East in Cambridge, Massachusetts last night to check out the Chinese Stars and indie dance-party favorites !!!. There was much locomotion. Thankfully we made up for poorly executed dance moves by getting nearly 100 people to read up on our mission with convenient, sharp looking handouts and we had a lot of people coming up to us specifically to ask about what we’re doing. There were also bumper stickers to be had by those folks who promised to display them prominently. Not the least of whom was !!!’s very own Nic Offer, who wore the sticker proudly on his midsection (see the photo above). It was a fun for all, and we did it with just two people.

    Today, we’re officially launching our 2004 Summer Concert Blitz, and you need to get on board and change some minds. Changing the music industry is something that tons of people would love to see happen, but they just haven’t realized how much potential we really have. If we can get ourselves to enough shows this summer, we can put the issue on the map like it’s never been before. The major labels have done everything they can to distort the debate around the future of the music industry and confuse people about what they should think. But there is just no way that the RIAA can match the power of a grassroots campaign like this.

    So – here’s what you can do:

    1. Go here to check if we have shows listed in your area that we’re hoping to flyer, and sign your ass up for one. If there’s nothing near you, see number 2.
    2. Go here to let us know about shows in your city or town that you can go to and hand out flyers.
    3. Go here if you’re a musician, label, or concert organizer, to tell us about shows that you’re are planning or performing at that you’d like to have people flyer or table. We’ll add them to our listings and if you can get a couple people in for free, that would be great.
    4. And send us photos of whatever you do so that we can put them up!

    Flyering at these shows really is fun. It’s an issue that everyone is interested in pretty quickly, even if they’ve never heard of it before or haven’t given the music industry much thought. And it’s not a message that people are expecting to get info about, which gets them curious to hear more. Even better, when people actually hear someone giving them honest info about what’s happening in the music industry, they agree, and that’s what ultimately changes things. C’mon, you might as well try it.

I don’t see things nearly as black/white, good/bad, us/them regarding the music industry and its policies, but it’s also good that someone is getting an alternative point of view out there at the grass roots level.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected],, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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