Today we meet the man behind the iconic film project I Am Bonnaroo. David Bruce is a true Bonnaroovian and a talented photographer, who has been capturing the people of Bonnaroo for ten years. You've no doubt seen his work, now hear how it all started with a road trip 1,000 miles to Manchester in the car with a complete stranger. Plus, we discuss what music we're listening to during quarantine and who we think would make good additions to the lineup for 2021.
Guest: David Bruce
Hey, hey, hey, hey. Hey, how y'all feeling? Journey through the stories that define the artists playing bongos. Who are they? What are they? What will you see? The what? Which bands? This year, That Matter. With Brad Steiner and Barry Courter. A podcast for Vonaruvians by Vonaruvians. Welcome to the What Podcasts. I can't believe we're still talking about Vonaruv. Barry Courter, Vonaruvian A, Laura Taco joining us. I'm Brad Steiner. Now, if you're watching at home via your social media device box, don't adjust your screen. There are not two Barry Courters with us today. No, not two, just one, just one Barry Courter. That's the beard I want to become. I know, you've got a lot of work to do, my friend. That's a grown ass beard right there. It's a labor of love. No kidding. Mine is more because it pisses my wife off. And I like doing this a lot. I think you can get to an age where, and it's definitely around Barry Courter age, where life becomes a lot of this contemplation of what you could have been doing at some point, more than right now. It's a whole table thing. Small battles, small battles. You got to pick and choose. You got to what and choose? Pick and choose. Pick and choose. Pick your battles. Laura Taco, how are you, buddy? How was your birthday? By the way, Laura Taco's birthday, everyone. It was Friday, thank you. Happy birthday. Happy birthday. Appreciate it. Yeah, it's 41. Should we introduce David? Brad and I talked about his beard. Should we introduce who? Oh yeah, I forgot about that. I got to ask you to do the introduction. Go ahead. I'll let Taco do it. Taco and David became friends. Tell us how you became friends. It's a great story. Well, David does the I Am Bonnaroo film project on Instagram. If you've probably looked through Bonnaroo pictures, you've probably seen him. He tags us a lot in his pictures. And last June, we went down to the Speak Easy Bonnaroo hosted by Roo Fitness and the Roo Bus and bumped into him there. Had never actually know what he looks like. So, you know, he had to introduce himself and say who he was. And I was like, oh wow, I follow you. I see all your pictures. So from then on, we just spent the whole weekend together hanging out. I saw him, you know, shoot some people with his camera. Thank you. Yeah, had to clarify. We had a great weekend and shared a lot of stories and, you know, decided he'd be a good guest to have on the show and talk about. David, did you sign the bus? Anywhere inside the bus, did you sign? That's what happens when somebody gets in that bus. I was actually asked to sign the bus and it was an honor. Somebody posted a photo from the inside of the bus on Instagram, I can't remember who it was, but I literally tried to zoom in on the phone to see if I could see my, you know. I told myself, there it is right there. I can't read it, but I know that's it. That's it, that's it. There's so many layers of this, but you drove from where? Upstate New York? I mean, for that weekend. I mean, that's- I really did, you know. So I got an invite to that shindig, which I was, you know, felt very honored for that invite because I knew it was a limited thing. It was kind of a hush hush thing because of the whole COVID thing. And I really wanted to go. I got my wife's blessing to go, which was a giant step forward. She's my biggest supporter in everything that I do regarding this. And I literally decided a week and a half before the event, I mean, the hype started to build on the Facebook page about the event and I could see what was happening. And I thought to myself, wow, this is actually gonna be pretty legit. And in lieu of not being at Bonnaroo this weekend, I'm gonna go down and I'm gonna see what's happening. And I mean, I literally drove about a thousand miles down. Jesus. And yeah, and you know, I decided to take the trip by myself. It was a little bit of a pilgrimage, you know? And I didn't really, I had no idea what to expect when I got there. I mean, I knew, you know, Daniel Horton, I knew who he was, but I didn't really know one single person that was gonna be there personally or well. So, you know, I'm sitting on our porch out here with my wife the day before I leave. And she goes, sorry, are you excited about this? I said, you know, I actually, I'm kind of nervous. And she said, why? And I said, okay, so let's get down to it here. I said, I'm getting ready to jump in a car, by myself in the middle of a pandemic, drive a thousand miles, very remote place in Tennessee I've never been before, and camp for three days with a bunch of people I don't really know in probably extremely hot conditions, you know? And I gotta be honest, it's the greatest thing that I did this year, man. I mean, I got to actually know some of the people who I knew who they were, but I didn't really, you know, I got to know better than probably if Bonnaroo even happened this year, because I got to spend some quality time with them. Daniel, David, it sounds like you described Bonnaroo. That's what I was thinking. Yeah. You know, I actually very much so, because the first time I went to Bonnaroo was on WEM. I was massive. Who was that? I was 2011. Oh, wow, okay, good. So this would have been, this year was gonna be huge for me, because I set a goal after the third consecutive year that I was there to make my project at least a 10-year project consecutively. This was gonna be the 10th year anniversary for I am Bonnaroo, and then of course, the bottom falls out, you know? Right. And I've really got nothing to bitch about, because a lot of people have had some serious hardships, and I really have none. I still have my job, all my friends and family are healthy. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, it's good, but you know, so there goes my 10th consecutive year, and then boom, all of a sudden, the speakeasy thing pops up, and I'm like, hey, this is gonna be something very cool. Just a general question before we get into your Bonnaroo experiences from your year, but how is it as a photographer, can you really differentiate from one year to the next what you actually get? This is year 10. I bet you look back at, you know, nine years ago, eight years ago, and the pictures look pretty similar. I don't know, how do you differentiate, or be able to tell, and especially as an artist, make it different from year to year? Well, actually, that's a big challenge, because I don't really want it to come off being redundant. I did start, for me, it's always about film. Initially, I wanted it to look like Woodstock, so when I first thought about, you know, what I wanted to do as a photographer for the first year that I went to Bonnaroo without having any idea what it was gonna be like, I said, okay, I want it to look Woodstock, so I went out and I bought a 1969 Nikon F, and I went down there with, you know, about eight rolls of film, which was, I could have went through that in the first place. Yeah, I was about to say, you know. Yeah, that joins day. Yep, so fast forward, now I have seven Nikons, and last year I went down there with 35 rolls of film, and I'm shooting more color in addition to black and white now, but it's still all about film. So the color film was a way for me to sort of breathe something a little bit different into it, you know? Here's where I jump in and answer your question, David. The background behind me, LCD sound system. Yeah. I, for the last. Well, when did he ask that question? He before. I'm talking about, he asked the question, when the show wasn't on. When the show wasn't on. You can notice the background. For the last decade or so, I've been not only the sole reporter, but the sole photographer for our paper. I am not a photographer. Yeah. That's why I chose this picture. I take pictures, I get lucky, I take good pictures, one in a thousand or whatever, and this is an example of that. I don't pretend I never claimed to be a photographer. This picture, when they came out on stage, it was so dark. If anybody saw the show, it was so dark. And it was just haze and cloud. And here I am, and I just thought, I'm just gonna shoot for three songs, you know? That's cause I'm in the pit. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. Left there thinking, I got nothing. Plugged the camera into the computer the next day, nine o'clock in the morning. And all of a sudden this popped up. And I didn't even know I had it. That's the difference between what I do. I think I'm pretty good at framing. I think I'm pretty good at knowing what is a decent picture, but I'm not a photographer. I can't make it happen. And that's what you're doing. And that's the reason I chose this as my background. And that's to what we're getting at. I mean, this is a project for you. I would have no idea. Brad one year gave all of us Instamatic cameras. Sure. Which is a great idea. Great idea. Didn't work. In theory it works. On paper it sounds great. That's what we're talking about. In reality, it's a total disaster. Yeah, great idea. And I mean, I literally have probably 10,000 images and maybe 20 that I'm proud of. 19 of them are his dick. Only the one. But yeah, so that's a great question, Brad asked. Because I was just, as he was saying that, I was thinking, yeah, Bonnaroo has changed, but not, I mean, the hippies last year looked like the hippies 15 years ago. Well, yeah, the reason, when I look at your stuff, it's not so much artist-based, it's people-based. And the people in the faces, no matter if they are different faces, it doesn't feel like the aesthetic ever really changes. Because there's a certain aesthetic that is consistent no matter if it's your first Bonnaroo or your 15th. It all seems to look the same. Yeah. Well, that's true. And partially that's definitely done by design. I found a formula for me that works, so I stick with it, and not to get too technical or whatever, but I always meter all of my shots with an incident light meter, I don't use these. So when you look at my photos from a light contrast standpoint, I know the film that I'm shooting really well, I know how it's gonna react under different lighting conditions, which is really important because I'm not shooting digital. I don't have the luxury of looking at things as I'm shooting it on the back of my camera now. So it becomes pretty predictable from that standpoint. But again, I'm always looking at my stuff, trying to figure out how to become a better photographer. And I didn't want it to become too redundant, and that's why I started experimenting a little bit with color films and actually arrived at one that I really, really like a lot for Bonnaroo specifically. Now, the other thing that I noticed is, whether it's by design or not, you really do find moments, and people will become moments and moments have... Anyway, how is it that, first off, is it something you stumble upon or is it something you're actively going to see? Not to see, but to find? And when you find it, how do you know it? Okay, so actually, I've gotten to know the layout of the farm really well. And this is a weird analogy, and I'm not a hunter, for whatever that's worth, but it's kind of like being a hunter, knowing a section of woods really well and saying, okay, when deer season opens, this is where I'm gonna put up my tree stand, and I'm gonna just wait. And honestly... That's good, that's good. The number of shots that I come back with every year, just knowing where to be after a subheadliner show gets over at the main stage or whatever, all I have to do is stand there and wait, and it comes to me. Right. I know exactly what you're talking about. I've done it 15 years, and I feel like I'm shooting the same pictures, because you know you're gonna get people sleeping under the tree in front of the witch. You know you're gonna get people coming off the slide. And it feels like, in some ways, I'm taking the same photograph. You're gonna get that happy coming through the tree through the arch. Yeah. That's a great... As an aside, a few years ago, we never really kept up with it, but it's inside one really late Thursday night. Our friend Nick, as we were walking back from the, I guess some late show, whatever, we looked down and it was already a muddy mess, and the person was literally laying in a mud pit. And he goes, oh, that is Bonnaroo's stick. And from that moment, we decided to start documenting the Bonnaroo's stick of the weekend. And it's like it happens at a certain hour every night, and you can see the stick just emitting from a human being or a situation. I wish that we would have kept up with that Instagram account because it was as fun as it could have been, but also a tad demeaning. So we sort of stopped. We sort of stopped. Yeah, that's hilarious. But it is something that it's almost like, it is almost on a timer, and you can almost find exactly who, what, when, where, and why every year at the same time. And that's why I'm so fascinated in the idea of how you differentiate from one to the next. And when you look back at... Okay, but put it this way. When you're done with it, when you're done with your 10 years, what are you going to do with it? That I don't know. And I've had people say to me, you're not actually going to start doing this after the 10th year. And I'm actually not ready to stop doing it. Well, why don't you go one year where you enjoy yourself and not feel like you've got to carry around 16 cameras at once? Actually, that's a great idea. You know what I might start doing honestly is start locking some of my camera gear in the trunk and removing myself from that. There are certain times of the day, like, if somebody was to say, listen, I'm just going to shoot for two hours a day, what am I going to shoot? It would be the quote unquote golden hour. And anybody that hasn't been to Bonnaroo that's a photographer that wants to take photos, I would tell them, hey, listen, you know, if you're planning on getting some good shots at Bonnaroo, plan on the golden hour, because not only is the light absolutely magical, but everybody's in that frame of mind where they've been out all day, they've been doing this, the temperature's starting to get divine. That's right. They're transitioning into the nightlife. And I'm telling you what, man, everybody starts to morph around that time. Everything starts to change. That is a great point. And it's not something that we've talked about a lot, but you're right. There is a moment in the afternoon and golden hour is right about at six, seven o'clock where the temperature starts to change. People are maybe freshly showered. They come out of hibernation for a few hours and things just start to feel different. I love that. I love that, Peter. That's a really great point. That's something we've really harnessed on the show before. David, why did you, I mean, tell us again how you decided to go live on Bonnaroo and then what was it that made this particular thing seem like it would be a great festival? I mean, a great project. Okay, so I've always been, well, I've been a photographer since I was a kid. Since I was about 20 years old and I've always shot film. I mean, I've shot digital, but I'm primarily a film photographer and I'm a huge, huge music fan. So, in 2010, my daughter was going to her first year of college in upstate New York. And I got a message from my lovely wife and she said to me, what do you know about a music festival called Bonnaroo down in Tennessee? And I thought that was kind of random. And I said, I know it's a world-class music festival, why? And she said, Madison, our daughter, who was a first semester college student at that point, she said she's thinking about going down to this with a bunch of her friends. I'm not sure how I feel about it. And I said, well, I'll tell you how I feel about it. I'm jealous as hell. I'm blah, blah, blah. So, that's how I ended up going down to Bonnaroo. And I didn't go down with my daughter and her friends. I went down with another guy. But if it wasn't for that, it probably wouldn't have been 2011. I don't know when I would have went down there, but that's the story about how I got down there. In that first year, you went just by yourself? No, so honestly, one of her college girlfriends that she had just met from Long Island, we live in upstate New York, she said to my daughter, Madison, my dad wants to go down to this festival. He doesn't have money to go down there with. And she said, my stepdad's actually thinking about going down. I literally met this guy, his name is Joe, by the way. Hey, Joe. I met him for the first time ever the night before him and I jumped in his car. And I took him off. He said it was never in a million years. It's Bonnaroo, man. It's never in a million years. Bonnaroo, I love your stories. We still stay in contact. I mean, we're still friends. But hey, you wanna know something, man? We talked about music all the way down there. We shared a love for Led Zeppelin. And it was- Oh my God, I'm wearing a Led Zeppelin shirt now. And I hate Led Zeppelin. That's amazing. How does that work? But no, so that's pretty much how it all happened. So I have two other younger sons who were both music industry students in college. They were, I think, five and nine when I first went down there. And I've been to Bonnaroo with both of them. We were supposed to go on year 10 with a whole crew of people because it was my big 10 year anniversary and we didn't make it down. But they went from being little kids, seeing me hop on a car and driving to something called Bonnaroo to loving the festival. They both go. They're both huge. They're both musicians. But did you do anything like this? I don't know, say closer? You mean closer to New York? Yeah. Not really. I go to a lot of concerts, but I actually live, here's a true story for you. I live 25 or 30 minutes from where Mountain Jam used to be every year and I've not once been to Mountain Jam. Do you camp? Are you a camper? You know, I have to camp because I'm a purist that way. I mean, if I was a photographer in Vietnam, I would go to a camp. No, I meant before. Before that. Before that. I had camped literally in my life two times. Yeah, see this is, it's so funny. My first Bonnaroo was what? 17, oh seven, oh seven. Which was the year my son went because he was a senior in high school. And I had the, you know, I remember breaking, you know, say, hey, guess what? Dad's going too. 2007 is not correct, Barry. That's not correct. I think you're like 2004. No, no, I went to the first one, oh two, and then I didn't go again till oh seven. Okay. I think that's right. But anyway, similar. You know, tell my son, hey, dad's going too, you know, which I thought would freak him out. He's like, I'm fine with that. Okay. Anyway. I find this, I find this, you know, we, I think that we get really lost in the idea of somebody traveling for so long and so far, but I've never thrown in the wrinkle of doing it with a stranger. Yeah. I'm not doing it. I have a cap on how long I'll spend in the car to begin with, with a total stranger. So one time, my mom, I don't know why, and I can't tell you, I don't really remember why I was in the car with this person, but it was a total stranger that my mom had plopped me in the car with, and I had to go, I don't know, seven, eight hours with this person. And of course, me being a 16, 17 year old asshole, and this being a, you know, mother of whatever, who's trying to remember her name, I remember the pain that it was sitting in a car, it's not speaking and no music playing and being completely at the mercy of this person who was a little tat-gassy and totally silent. I can't run the risk of that ever happening to me ever again. I can't ever possibly even get close to that situation. It gives me, I feel claustrophobic just thinking about it. Yeah. I mean, honestly, if I really thought about it, I think my desire to get down there and check this thing out, and especially take photos, sort of superseded any other kind of research that I had about it. And so now what's the setup like? You were gonna have, how many people come with you this year and just the same car or? I have people, so my daughter who, my daughter lives in Nashville now, she's a teacher. She was trying to get the minimum number of people together for us to do a group camping thing for the first time this year. She actually signed up to do group camping, but there was multiple people going down from different states and different cars. To put a bow on this thing, she says, so there you are. Your wife comes to you and says, hey, have you heard of this thing? Your daughter wants to go. You end up going with a stepdad who you met the night before to a farm in Manchester, Tennessee. Yeah. And 10 years later, you drive. It's like the start of a horror movie. You drive, what, 12 hours to hang out with taco in an even more remote farm in Tennessee with people you've never said hello to before. Well, that's even strange. Yes, that's strange. That's strange, but think about the idea that you've been in the bottom room nine years and you didn't know the people that you were gonna be meeting up with. That's pretty surprising too. You think that after so many years, you just know all of each other. Yeah. Yeah, that's actually true. So Daniel Horton was, I knew who he was, but I didn't know him. He's of course, he's the guy that is part owner of the real Roobus. Yeah, for people who don't know Daniel and Charlotte and the Roobus, Daniel might be the happiest, most positive human being that I know. So I- Wait, not me? Next to Laura Taco. Yeah, look at him. Just look at him. He's radiating positivity. That's a respectable beard by the way. I like that. Thank you. I trimmed it. That's yesterday's. Yeah, and it's grown out since. So, but Daniel Horton, so I saw something, him and I were messaging each other. So we did have a conversation, but we never really spent any time of honor together. And then he was the one who actually asked me if I was interested in going without even hesitating. I was working from home at that point because of COVID. And I just said, hell yeah, I didn't even consider that. I didn't know if it was, I'm sorry. No, it's okay. Do you ever think about like, because you're a photographer, your photos are so good. Have you ever thought about adding video to it? You ever think about doing video? I actually have, but there's so many other people who are doing that so well. Human being media, phenomenal work. They do a lot of festivals, they do it great. I'll tell you one thing I did think about doing, this would be an extreme labor of love is going down there with like a 16 millimeter film camera and just shooting film bursts of people. Like, film bursts and then seeing what I can come up with from that standpoint. So, okay, this is because we're dorky, we're dorky about the minutiae of some of this stuff. When you, do you get a media pass? Okay, so probably not until my sixth or seventh year did I get a media pass. Okay, because they don't let just anybody walk into six cameras during the day. No, and you want to know something? I had to pare it down. I had to pare it down to get my gear in there. So I had to figure about, I had to really think about what I needed to accomplish, what I was looking to accomplish. And before I had a media pass, it was literally one camera body, one lens and a light meter and a hip pack full of film. And when I go through the security checkpoints and they're opening your hip packs and they're pulling shit out and I'm like that's- Please be careful, please be careful. Yeah. So, but full disclosure, I mean, I had to sneak stuff in and then it probably wasn't until the seventh year, I think, I actually got a media pass. Now, normally, now I have to ask because normally they don't give it to you unless you're with some sort of entity. You just got it all on your own, huh? Well, what happened was I was pelting Bonnaroo with stuff on social media. And I didn't think they were paying attention to it because they never really acknowledged anything that I was doing. And then one time, bam, they featured one of my photos and then they tagged me and credited me in the photo, which was a great day for me. That's awesome. And I literally said, hey, thanks a lot. You guys just made my year for doing that. And then probably a month later, not even, they used another one. And after about the third one that they used in a short period of time, I messaged them and I said, hey, is there any way I can get access? I'm not really that interested in shooting the bands. I want to shoot the people, but I need better access to get in there with my gear. Yeah. That's when they started to get interested. That's when they started hooking me up over here. That's a great question, Brad. I'm glad you picked up on that. And that's a great insight because that's, I think probably in year one, that's the kind of thing you and I bragged about that they do very well is pay attention. Yeah. They paid attention, they saw what was working. It's a cool thing. You were doing cool work. And- Yeah, it lends to the overall point of how this is made for and created by a community of people that, I hate to say, look, not everybody's going to get one, but if you prove yourself and you show yourself to be, not a dick, well, I'm not going to get- Seriously, a lot of events, the first answer is no. Yeah. You need to shut this down. And then they said, hey, this guy's doing great work. How do we make it easy for him? Yeah. And they've done that for us, which is why I say that. And then I think it's because we're celebrating what they do. All right, so you go to a lot, you do a lot of concerts, you're making music. In the 10 years since, have you done any other sort of festival? New Orleans Jazz Festival. I shut down, I live two blocks away. Actually Russ told me that and I was like, that's one of my wife's favorite places in the world. Not that we've traveled the world, but we have a lot of love for New Orleans, man. Let me tell you, so I got here two days after Mardi Gras. And I was like, ah, you know, miss Mardi Gras, but it's probably for the best. We don't need to be here when Mardi Gras started when we first get here. But what we were very excited, oh man, but we live two blocks away from Jazz Fest, we live two blocks away from Voodoo Fest, we are within walking distance of every sort of, for festival season. It's a big deal every week there's some other type of thing that is in and around our neighborhood. So we were like, oh, this is amazing. This is the perfect spot. So excited about Jazz Fest. And then 10 days after I got here, COVID hits and I'm sitting at my house for the next six months. Oh wow. That's a great thought. You guys got to work. If I didn't think your ego, you know, I would think maybe you were to blame. Oh, I'm to blame. Yeah, that's even a little big for your ego. It's all Brad's fault. That's the thing. Yeah. My old radio partner used to tell me all the time, everything's Brad's fault. Everything's Brad's fault. So, David, I mean, you've not done this. We've established this is not something you do all the time. This is the one festival. What's the takeaway? What have you, I mean, what keeps you going back, especially considering the idea that we've talked about is the photos don't necessarily change or do they? I don't want to put words into your mouth, but what is it that brings you back? You know, well, I go back for the festival, but, you know, I mean, I'm so passionate about being a photographer. I do shoot other things that aren't music related for personal work. But I go back because it just, I want to keep feeding the project. And, you know, just when I start wondering how many people are paying attention, I mean, I'll get some really great messages from people, you know, that I know that are paying attention because they're like, hey, here's a photo you took of me five years ago, you know, fantastic. Yeah. And, you know, I do, you know, I've done gallery shows that were of the Bonnaroo Project specifically in upstate New York a few times. I've never made a single dollar from the project. And because I shoot film and film is expensive and processing is expensive, it costs me a shit ton of money to do it every year. It's only for fun, you know? I mean- I was about to say, since you're on film, I mean, like you were saying earlier, and it just now hit me, you don't, you said it, you don't know what you have. So when you go back to the car every night, it's not like you get to review what you got that day. Yeah. I'm like a little kid at Christmas time, I come home and I get my film developed and I go pick up, you know, 20 rolls of film. And it's like, I can't wait to get home and start transparency scanning these things. So that means your Bonnaroo experience goes from the 1st of June until the end of July. I mean, you probably worked on this stuff for six weeks afterwards. Well, even longer than that. Oh, wow. Because you know what I do is I, like, I never, if somebody's worth taking a photo of, I never usually just take one photo, I'll take three or four frames. And even if they're all good, there's always one that's clearly the best, you know, but you know, I edit my photos, I don't alter them. Well, some of my, I alter heavily and it's obvious, but for the most part, I try, I'm a purist when it comes to stuff, I try to keep it real, you know. But you know, for me, it's the rediscovery. I mean, six months later, I'll scan a strip of film that I hadn't scanned yet and images will pop up on my monitor and I'll literally get, sometimes I'll literally get goosebumps. I'll be like, shit, look at this. Shit, look at that, man. That's why I'm first to this picture. I can't tell you, you know, I mean, and it's a, you're not getting a good representation. It's a much bigger frame. Yeah, Barry's in the way. I can't see his picture. Some of Barry is in the way. He disappears on occasion. The band is actually in the full frame. You can't see it, but I, that, that's the moment, David, that, I mean, I was like, oh my God, I can't believe I got that image. For me, dumb luck, you know what you're doing. The other, the other sort of inside baseball question I have is, I mean, camera, you're carrying six of them. It's a lot of weight. Are you shooting all day long or do you take time off? See, that's, I leave mine back at the camp sometimes and then inevitably there's the great picture and I don't have the camera. Or, you know, yeah. That's the way that it always, that's the way that it works. You know, I mean, I get up in the morning, I have a routine where I get up and I walk into center room and I head to Dave's Mini Donuts to get some coffee. And from the minute I leave the underneath the canopy, I've got a camera around my shoulder and I'm just scanning. I'm just looking for something to take a photo of. And I've actually gotten some really good shots by doing that, you know? Yeah, yeah, you have to. I mean, that's what you're there for. But I don't think people understand how much worth that is. It's a labor of love. Well, yeah, I bet you, but with all that work, when do you actually do the actual festival? When do you shut it down for the day and go see something? Usually the late night sets. I have certain bands that I have to see where I'm not, that I'm totally immersed in the situation. There's no doubt about it. I look at the schedule and I'll tell my friends, because whoever I go with every year, sometimes I feel bad for them because I'm like, hey guys, I'll catch you later, you know? I'm kind of a lone wolf. If you see me there, chances are I'm gonna be by myself. But I'm looking at the schedule in the morning and I'm telling people that I'm like, hey, listen, I'll see you at 4.30 at the witch stage because I'm gonna go check out this band. And then I'm fully immersed in that show. I'll tell you, the one thing that's strange about Camp Nut Butter in that we've all been sort of, the main group of people have been there together for 10 years or so, but none of us ever go to shows together. It's never something like, yeah, let's all go. Never. I mean, there might be one show a weekend that we'll all try to go together. And mostly it's because Brad can be a diva and doesn't want to stand with them. Where they're gonna be standing, he wants, he's got his own spot next to the stage that becomes the, you know, it's a good thing. It is partly that we don't all have the same access, but it's also just cause we don't do that to each other. You know, see ya. Yeah, and that's, and by the way, that's what makes camp so much fun is when you get back, you have no idea who's gonna be there. We have literally no idea as to who you're gonna stumble upon and it's just, it's perfect for someone like, you know, me who's completely ADD. Who needs something new at all times. So back to the project, David, as the, I mean, as a reporter, it sounds to me like the fact that you came down and did the thing with Daniel and Sharla and then fits perfectly into the project. 100%. Okay, I was gonna ask if it became, you know, now that's part of the story. It's definitely a part of the story. And the thing of it is, is it's, even though it wasn't at Bonnaroo, it was the weekend that it was supposed to happen. And everybody that was there was a Bonnaroovian. And I had people message me after I started posting those photos saying, hey, where's that stream at Bonnaroo on the farm? I've never seen that before. I wanna find it. And you know, if you kind of really read my really short captions, you'd realize that it wasn't really taken at the farm, but so yeah, it definitely fits well in there, I think, you know. There is a body of water at Bonnaroo. And I don't want it to be too, I'll be honest, I don't know if it's still there, but for years and years and years where guest camping used to be, it's now where volunteers camp. But there is a giant bowl of water that sits back on the edge of the KOA and where it's now a camping area for the volunteers. It's a big giant thing of water. And I don't know if it's like spillage, but for some reason our guy at Camp Nuff that always wanted to camp next to it, and he didn't realize it's just a big bucket of mosquitoes. Yeah. In the world, and every time we get there, he's like, like for a property, right? I'm like, no, you're not, it's all mosquitoes. Yeah, well, that's so true. It's like West Nile virus in the makings there. Exactly. It's absolutely miserable. David, did your, I think you said his name was Joe, the guy that went with you first year. Has he gone back? Okay, he hasn't gone back, but he was gonna go back this year. Oh, wow. So you had a lot going right on this year. That's interesting. We send each other Christmas cards, you know? I mean, so, you know, we both got to watch our daughters go through their whole college thing, and my daughter got her master's, and you know, now they're both responsible young adults, probably more responsible than I am for sure. And you know, we're still doing the thing, you know? Well, this is remarkable. Not only is the story great, but also you're our second New Yorker this season. You're the second New Yorker we've talked to. Oh, that's true. Because Bill was from New York, remember? Yep. So, and that's a, God, that's a long drive. Well, that's, when you think about like the actual shows you've seen, when you say you got Late Night Guy, what is the show that stands out to you after nine years of honor? Oh, geez. Well, the show that stands out to me, not necessarily a late night show, has got to be Paul McCartney. Never heard of him. Never heard of him, yeah. And I know a lot of- He did something with Kanye, I heard. Yeah. I know a lot of people kind of tell the same tale, but I mean, it sounds weird, but that was almost like an emotional thing for me, you know? And I wasn't even necessarily a huge Beatles fan or a Paul McCartney fan. It was, there was the 85,000 people saying every word to Hey Jude was- Yeah. How do you explain that to somebody? Yeah, I know, I know. And it's not just any other show, because I saw it at ACL Fest later on that year. Just not the same thing, you know? Just not the same thing. It's not the same collective experience. And although it was probably a carbon copy of the way that Paul is affected on stage, and he's using all the same inflections of when he's talking about his friend John, I get it, but it just doesn't feel the same. It didn't feel the same as Bonnaroo. You're exactly right about there. That was amazing. That was absolutely amazing for me, you know? Yeah. And this year, a great, this past year, should I say 2019, probably one of my standout moments was being in a pit for Gojira. Gojira is a French metal band. I don't know if you guys, I knew nothing about Gojira when I went to Bonnaroo, but I decided that I was gonna get in the pit for that show because I felt like it had potential from a photographer standpoint. And I gotta be honest with you, man. When they came out and started playing, it felt like I was standing next to a 747. It just, it was. So I'm in the pit with other photographers and they're shooting the stage, and meanwhile I'm down on one knee with my back against the stage shooting the people on the ramp. I'm shooting the people on the rail, and I could feel my shirt slapping me in the back from a sound wave that was just colliding into me. And I was just like, wow, absolutely incredible, you know? I've told this before. I was in the photography pit for my morning jacket when they came out and started circuital, I think, and they hit that opening note and the same thing. And the photographer next to me put his camera down on the giant speaker and said, I just wet myself. I totally get that. I mean, that didn't happen to me, but it was, the thing of it is, is I was trying to concentrate on what I was shooting with all of this chaos going on around me. And what I started doing was just, I had a power winder on my camera. I just threw it on and just started hitting the shutter button. And I knew, you know, I had literally reloaded my film before I got booted out of the pit because I was shooting so many frames. It's not the same. And when I walked out of there, I was so excited because I knew, I said, man, if I get one frame off of that rail sequence, it's total gold. And I got a lot. What'd you get? You guys have the gun? I got a few, yeah, for sure. So I'm guessing you have to wear some sort of earplug thing. You're having to cover yourself up. What is your earplug choice? I have to say that I don't wear earplugs, which is a bad deal. Oh, stop it. Stop it. I have bad earplugs. I don't either. I don't either. Yeah. I know it's not really bad. Like I said, both my sons are musicians and they both advocate for that, but. I can't, I'm sitting here listening to you. And again, I carry, you know, a SD card that'll hold 10,000 images. I can't imagine the stress and the stress plus excitement that you're going through, wondering what you're gonna get. Because I mean, I get it almost immediately. It's exactly what you just said. Yeah. Wow. Wow. Man. Well, what a story. I appreciate you showing up and doing it every year. I'm excited to see what it turns into after 10 years. I mean, I don't think you even know what it's gonna be. Do you? No, I mean, ultimately I'd love to do a book that's just the project. I definitely have more than enough material to do that, and people have suggested that to me. But you know, at this point, even though this was my 10th year, I'm not totally done doing it. So I hate to like go through the expense of putting together something like that. And then two years from now, take the best frigging shot that I've ever taken in my life at Bonnaroo, not having to be part of that book, you know? Yeah. Yeah. Well, think about this. So your trip down here again with the Roobots and that bunch, I think is a tremendous chapter. But think about what the next one's gonna be like. Exactly. We've got so much that's gonna surround it, but we haven't really considered what the energy is gonna be like when we actually are allowed to do something. Assuming it's gonna be good, I would think it's gonna be amazing. The release, the energy, the excitement. I can't wait. You know, the thing of it is, is one of the things that I've used to describe the experience to people, and you really can't have it if you've been there, is in a lot of ways, it's really a celebration of life. And even more so than ever next year, for the people who look forward to the festival every year, who now don't take it for granted, I mean, they're gonna be celebrating life, you know? Like 110% pedal to the metal. And I'm breaking more film to shoot that, man. I'll tell you that. I've said this since the first one that I went to, and I mean this and it sounds corny, whatever, make fun of me, but, Bonnaroo is the way things should be. Every time I leave there, I think, this is the way people should treat people and should act. And it's really not that complicated. Why don't we do it, you know? Yeah. Everything from picking up your own tracks to just saying hello to people and high-fiving people. I mean, it's really pretty simple and it's not that hard. So yeah, it'll be fun. It's gonna be exciting to see what happens, when it happens. I'd like to believe that, you know, I wasn't an asshole before Bonnaroo, before I ever went, but I can tell you that it's definitely had a profound effect on me as a human being. There's no doubt about it. I mean, how can- It's a great question. Barry, have I become less of an asshole? During that week? Okay. Wait, I'm less of an asshole that week. I think we need to probably clear that with Brian Stone. High-five people during that week. I don't know if that's true, but I don't know. No, yeah, no, I understand what you're saying, David. And I agree. I literally leave there thinking, it's really not that hard. Just do this all the time and the world would be a whole lot better. And I think that's a great thing. It would be a whole lot better. And I think that's why we're talking. Yeah. I mean, that's the thing. That's the thing that I think Daniel, I give him so much credit. Daniel is, I mean, he lives at 365. Yeah, oh yeah. And I just think that's awesome. So- How far outside of the city are you just saying? So I live in a small little river town called Cooksocky. It's two hours north of the city on the Hudson, right on the Hudson River. And further past Poughkeepsie, huh? Yeah, you know, the first time when I went down to New Jersey and went down there, we just didn't handle the road trip that well. Literally took us 20 hours to get there. We drove all through the night to get there. We were spent by the time we got there and then we couldn't sleep because our time was like a microwave at 10 o'clock in the morning. Well, what was the problem with the road trip? What did you do wrong? Just kept making too many stops, you know? Yeah. I blamed Joe on the race. I just blamed Joe because this was his car and he was driving. I don't think so. But you know, even with, forget about what Waze tells you. I mean, even with a normal amount of stops, it's a 16 plus hour trip for me from my driveway. You know, it's 998 miles. Wow. But I love it, man. It's- Wow. Well, hopefully we get to see you again, get to see you at some point, maybe in Tennessee in the future. So next time, maybe a plane. Especially if you've got your daughter who lives in Nashville, she's got all the gear there just flying to Nashville at this point. You know, I kind of thought about that, but part of it's the journey. If I have the flexibility to drive, I don't mind doing it, man. I'm kind of a road trip kind of person, you know? My wife and I are going to Nashville in a couple of weeks. We're really looking forward to that. There you go, Barry. You should go meet up. I'd love to meet Barry. Yeah, yeah, come on. Yeah, that sounds fun. Just put Barry on the spot. I know Taco will be there. I know Taco will be there. Barry, Barry's willing to do it so long as he can get in bed by six. He's good. He's good. Bed by six, he made a five hours long by five. He's fine. Six, 30, gotta watch, you know, Matt walk. Gotta watch the stories. Gotta watch my stories. Yeah. All right. Love that. Love to have you. Come on, we'll spend some time. Before we get off here, do we have any, did we wander on through some emails, some questions? Do we have any notes that we wanted to go through? So we did get one question. Okay. And let me pull it up. This comes from Phil, one of our Patreons. And Phil says, which artists have you been listening to during quarantine do you think would make good additions to the Bonnaroo lineup for 2021? That's a pretty good question. That's a fantastic question. Not a bad question. Well, first of all, we'll take it in two parts and answer a version that I wanna answer. And then I'll answer his. The thing that I've been listening to the most, aside from repeat repeats, when did my sales out now? It is out now. Yeah. In sports. Yeah. Is a- How's the podcast? There's two things in particular. One ties back to the podcast. I've been obsessed with this. I just stumbled upon Billy Ocean's piece of vinyl. Literally this 25 year old, 30 year old piece of vinyl has brought me so much joy. It's just the best thing you could ever buy. If you find it anywhere, suddenly, it is literally as perfect of an album to put on for any occasion that you have during the day. And it just hit after hit after hit. I am in love with this piece of vinyl. But the other thing that I'm obsessed with is a recommendation from Rust and Wax. They sent me a album that I have been listening to on repeat. That would be a perfect, perfect model artist for a Sunday morning slot. That thing that we've always wanted, that church sermon that's happening on Sunday around one o'clock, Ural Thomas and the Pain. Literally the band's called The Pain. But it's U-R-A-L Thomas, your old Thomas and the Pain. And it is just slapper after slapper, banger after banger, just horns aplenty, big, beautiful, Charles Bradley-esque horns and soul. I'm in love with it. And it's because of the Rust and Wax people. So I give them all credit. Everything's better with horns, man. Yeah, well, don't say that to repeat repeat because Kristen cannot stand horns. She hates horns. She's a good listener. She will not listen to things with horns in it. That's right. I want My Morning Jacket. I want another four hour My Morning Jacket, Bonnaroo, maybe even two sets. Maybe even Friday, Sunday type of, I want My Morning Jacket. Cause I think they're the perfect Bonnaroo act. Yeah, that's the first place I ever heard of My Morning Jacket. I love that new album. It's fantastic. Laura, talk about you. Speaking of Rust and Wax, I ordered a couple of records from them that were Radiohead records. And I know Radiohead's played, but I would love to see Radiohead again. EOB was supposed to be my Radiohead experience this year. Well, there's a 2021, they're going on tour in 2021. So you might get some. Man, that'd be great. There's so much from the 2020 lineup that I wanted to see, that I still wanna see. I kinda just, I know it can't happen, but it would be great if 2021 was just the 2020 lineup. Like I would be super happy with that. Well, look, here's what we've learned through COVID, doing what I do for a living. They've studied people's listening habits and especially the radio stations and the radio stations. They're doing really, really well. Spotify data, Apple music data. What they found was people in quarantine and through COVID had turned to what they call comfort food. And not many people are engaging too much in new products. And most of the listener, especially the radio listener, is choosing stuff that they already know and stuff they're familiar and comfortable with. Because in times of peril, times of crisis, people always turn to comfort food. So- That's a good point. So, it's both troubling and understandable why if you've got a new project out, why it probably doesn't have as much heat on it as it probably could. So if anybody's listening to something new right now, boy, bring it on. I'm all in because I even feel a tad empty. I feel like I'm not listening to anything. I feel a tad, and I'm a consumption junkie. I listen to nothing but new stuff. I hate anything that's already there. So to not really feel activated in that way sort of bums me out. Yeah. The avenue's dried up, right? I mean, you would normally hear something as an opening band at a show maybe, or at a festival or something. So yeah, it makes sense. Makes perfect sense. You guys familiar with the Australian band Psychedelic Porn Crumpets? You know, I can't say that I am. Nope. I miss the porn crumpets. No, but tell me more. Okay, so crumpets. Crumpets, yeah. It's kind of a really weird name, but let me tell you, it's a great band. Actually, my sons who are music industry students turned me on to them. They're the band that I would love to see at Bonner sometime. I think it's inevitable. But if you want to hear one track that kind of defines them, they have a song called I Found God in a Tomato. I love it already. Boy, your kids really like weed. No, it's not. It sounds like a joke, but it's no joke, you guys are gonna dig it. I love it. I'll check it out. Check it out. I found God in a Tomato. I found God in a Tomato. Don't ask my arthritic hands that. Barry, anything else? Any other questions? Anything else we want to get to before we end? I just wanted to say before we came on, I had reached out to Drew Holcomb just randomly yesterday actually, and said hello, Drew Holcomb, and our Moon River Festival, and asked him if he had anything to say. They were supposed to have Moon River next month, and he just said, like everybody else, really gonna miss all you guys and look forward to next year. So just wanted to throw that out there, that the musicians are feeling it like everybody else. I mean, I can't even imagine what the festival planners, I mean, I know what we're going through, so they're going through it too, is the reason that I mentioned it. So that, and no, I guess this was a lot of fun. David, thanks so much for giving us so much time. And it blows my mind, the story. I mean, from meeting a total stranger to driving 20 hours to 10 years later, doing it again. Yeah, you have a shirt on right now that says fearless. Damn, they're crazy. I just, and I think we're gonna, I think Russ is gonna play audio later in a minute from somebody who called in to the phone thingy. Oh, do we have a thing? Oh, that's really, I forgot about that. So Barry texted us and said he wanted to open up the phone line again and have people text in or call in messages. And this was the text thread that we had that was, I mean, enormously entertaining to me. Barry says, oh God, let me find it. Okay. Okay. I was thinking, this is from Lord Doctor. I was thinking we could maybe do a Patreon Q&A. We're a Patreon submit questions. Barry responds, that works along those lines. I really do think the phone thingy can become a thing. Yeah. The phone thingy. And I responded, Barry's a regular Alexander Graham Bell. I think this phone thingy can become a thing. It's got legs. This phone thingy's got legs. So AGV, tell me what we got. I don't know. This phone thingy's got legs. Yeah. Anyway, my point is when you hear this guy's story on top of what David has shared with us, it's just stunning to me. The depths that Bonnaroo reaches across the country. And it just, I mean, we kind of talk about it, but I'm still surprised every time we do this, Brad and Russ, how many people this festival has touched in ways that we don't even know. Well, Taco, can we play it now? Hey guys, big fans. I've been following you on YouTube and Spotify for a while. I just wanna share a Bonnaroo memory that I have. So Bonnaroo was actually my first music festival ever, and it was last year, 2019. My story's a bit different. So the morning of day two, I found out that my grandmother had passed, and we were nine hours away from home, so there was no, and I didn't drive, so there was no way I could really get back. We knew she was ill. It wasn't like a surprise, but it was kind of rough that I wasn't able to say goodbye. And later that day, I believe it was day two, I'm probably getting the days wrong. I just remember that we were waiting for Rozier to start, and I was not really the biggest fan. I didn't dislike his music, but just not someone I listened to a lot. And right before it started, someone just handed me a notebook and a pen, and it was just something where you write a note and you pass, and I realized that that was my moment to say goodbye to my grandmother. So I wrote her a note with a letter, and then I passed it along. And then Rozier started as the sun was setting, and it was just kind of a really powerful and spiritual feeling that I had. I'm sure this is probably a bit different than what you guys are normally getting, but just wanted to share that story. Yeah, have a good one. David, I mean, like what you're saying, you basically had a conversation with Daniel from Roobus. Yeah. And I did too, and it basically ended up with, here's an address, show up at this time. That's what I did. I had no idea what I was coming into. But for me, that drive was like an hour. So you live in- Honestly, but in the Volkswagen bus, it could have been 22 hours, let's be honest. It could have easily, but at any point, if I were to break down, I could just camp right there and just wake up. But yeah, I couldn't imagine actually driving the length that you drove to go to that. I mean, especially not knowing any more than I did, just here's an address, it's a field in Tennessee, show up. And we did, and of course it turned out to be wonderful. But- They've made movies about that kind of thing. Yeah, like if I showed up and it was terrible, I could just go back to- They're fan-joes, usually. Yeah, yeah. Guys that look like Ned Beatty, is usually my point that I start running. Right, well, I kind of made a bad joke with my wife saying, hopefully, if nobody hears from me in a few days, they don't just start finding parts of my camera equipment scattered through the woods somewhere, you know? No, no, no, no, that's not a good find. Sending out your location to people, they're like, this is where to find me if you don't hear from me. Yeah. All right, one final thing to go through the Patreon's Barry Porter. You want to run through the Patreon's before we go? We can do that. We can do that. All right, please do. Thanks to the Patreon's, Karen Sheets, Timothy Proctor, Karen Carlson, Liesl Condor, David Grimes, Phil Hanley, Chloe Hannon, Benjamin Lale, Tori, Musical Antlers, Mary T., Skylar Melanie, and Jesse Feldman over there at the Rust Wax, Rust and Wax. Parker Reed, Dan Sweeney, Joshua Herndon, Lauren Edholm, Nick Yeatman, Tyrone Basket, Evan Brown, Ross McNamara, William Richards, Clay Wilhoyt, Sean McCarthy, Brian Mathewson, Chelsea Davis, Lucy Young, Jason Hazelbaker, DK, Linda Doles, Jacob Marty, Andrew T. McBride, Justin Nigro spoke to him this week, David Solano, Catherine Riccio, Meredith Ritman, Daniel and Sharla Horton, Sean McCain, David Henson, Brooke Tussie, and Ella up on Signal Mountain. There you go. All right. Don't forget our two new ones. We've got two new Patreons, Madison Hatziko. Okay. Hope I'm saying that right. And then Riley Benson was our new one. Yeah, good for you. Thanks for doing that. I forgot about that. Imagine we got two new ones in a year when Bonnaroo didn't happen. It didn't even happen. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, no kidding. And I guess we still got another show to come up. We've got more we're doing. This is nuts. So we've still got a Patreon to talk to and we've got some other surprises. I don't know. I hope we continue to call in the phone thingy. Yeah, what's the phone thingy? What's the number to the phone thingy? The number to the phone thingy is 423-667-7877. Which spells, that we found out the other day, sput. Also spells R-U-S-S. Oh, yes. On the hot show as I said earlier, it spells R-U-S-S. David, wow, man. Thanks for giving us so much time. Thank you so much. And thanks for keeping the Bonnaroo spirit alive, man. I love your photos. They're really, really well done. At, what again is the URL? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Shoot, yeah. Give a plug. It's basically I am Bonnaroo on Facebook and Instagram. I do have the domain name registered, but I'm lazy and I don't have my website up yet. What did you think? I meant to ask you that earlier. What did the name, I mean, that's such a, that's a pretty bold, is that something that you'd used for other projects or is that just for this? No, literally I use it just for this project. And, you know, it's kind of weird for me because people will see me at the festival and they'll say, hey, are you that Bonnaroo, I am Bonnaroo guy. And it's, you know, I'm not, I am Bonnaroo. The people that are in the photo, they are Bonnaroo. This project is for them, about them. I'm archiving lives every time I press the shutter button down, you know. That's awesome. I am Bonnaroo. That's awesome, very good. And by the way, if you need help building a website, I think we got the guy for it. It's sitting right there in that bus. I can probably help you out. Oh, yeah. Awesome. All right, guys, we'll see you next time. Anything else before we go? Yeah, thank you guys for doing what you do and keeping us all year round too, man. I mean, I think the first podcast that I watched of yours, I literally stumbled across. There was one that you guys were doing in a parking lot somewhere. And you had, you know, a lot of Daniel's crew there. Some of the, some of the Rutteroo guys, I think were there. Oh, that's right, yeah. We did that last November with the RooBuzz crew and some of the, what was it, the RooTank clan. Yep, yep. Hashtag at the Moxie. Yes, yeah. We did it at the Moxie Hotel in Chattanooga. And it was kind of a last minute thing we threw together and said, let's make a video and put it out. I actually shared it with some of my friends and it's a good feed for the off season, as they say. You know what I mean? It is. And then when you talk to them, what did they say about my hair? Well, you know, I was gonna tell you, you got the best hair in the business, but I'm not. Oh, thanks, I appreciate that. Uh-oh. All right, good. Yeah, well, we appreciate you and thanks for listening and being such a good Bonnaroo patron, if you will. You embody the spirit of the festival, that is for sure. Hey, thanks a lot, man. Thanks, buddy. We'll see you soon. Thanks, guys. Good to see you again, David. Thank you. All right, bye-bye. Hey, hey, hey, hey. Hey, how you all feeling? Journey through the stories that define the artist playing Bonnaroo. Who are they? What are they? What will you see? The what? Which bands? This year, that matter. Yay. Steiner and Barry Courter.