For now, the 2024 lineup for Bonnaroo remains a mystery. So, instead of participating in rampant speculation (as much as they'd like to), the crew of The What Podcast are biding their time by connecting with the flesh and blood of their favorite festival.
This week, Barry and Lord Taco offer a unique perspective from the farm, that of Bonnaroo veteran and festival photographer Yvonne Gougelet. Gougelet recalls attending her first Bonnaroo on less than a dime, comedy lineups at Bonnaroo, hitchhiking, and how starting "Babes & Beards of Bonnaroo" led to her career as a festival photographer.
Listen to the full chat on The What Podcast here or watch it via YouTube. For more Tales from The Farm, check out our conversation with longtime attendee Cassie; and for more about photographing the fest and live music in general, check out Barry and Lord Taco's interview with Danny Clinch.
Be sure to do us a favor and like, review, and subscribe to The What Podcast wherever you get your podcasts. You can also follow the Consequence Podcast Network for updates on all our shows, and snag our "Radiate Positivity" T-shirt on the Consequence Shop.
Guest: Yvonne Gougelet
Once again, welcome back to the What Podcast.
I'm with Russ, Lord Taco, as most of us know.
We're still waiting for the lineup to come out.
Should come out in the next couple of weeks.
Even after it does, one of the things I think we want to do, Russ, correct me if I'm wrong,
is sort of talk to some people of like minds who enjoy and love this festival as much as
We certainly have a guest this week who I think fits that bill.
Absolutely, we do.
It's good to see you again.
It feels like we're doing a lot of these.
Talking like last week with Cassie and then this week, getting a lot of people together
that are like us have been going for years and just have a lot of great stories to tell.
I mentioned it with Cassie and I'm sure I'll mention it again with anybody we talk about
is sort of everybody has a unique story.
Everybody has an interesting story or two or three or four, as we'll hear today about
this festival, but there is so much commonality.
There's a thread common to all of it.
It's interesting that as we've said many, many times, it's become a year round thing.
In the case of Yvonne, who we're going to talk to here in a second, it's become a career.
Von Aru led her to her current career.
I just think that's fascinating.
She mentioned several other people who she works with who have the same experience.
You and I met because of this podcast.
We started going because of this podcast.
You have a whole new group of friends, right?
People you can talk with and communicate with.
Some of them have been on our show and some of them have been on other shows, RooHamm guys
and the real Rue Bus.
I know you got to spend some time with them recently.
I got to go on their show.
You can go listen to that.
Then we also put up a, I put up a YouTube video of that episode as well.
That was a lot of fun.
Lots of people that we all know and love were on there.
I think everybody that was on there has been on our show at least once or several times.
I believe so.
That's a lot of fun.
All right, well, let's just get into it.
I think we touch on a lot of what I might say as an intro, but I think we touched on
a lot of that.
Here is our interview with Yvonne who started, no idea why she was going.
She knew why she was going.
She was going for the music.
I don't think she knew how it was going to impact her life is probably a better way to
say it, but it certainly has.
She has quite a few stories to tell.
Here we go.
Here's our interview with Yvonne.
Thank you to her so much for her time.
Welcome back to another edition of the What Podcast.
You've got me, I'm Barry.
You've got Lord Taco, Russ there in the middle, depending on how the screen breaks up.
With us is Yvonne.
This is another episode we're excited about because it's another Bonnaroo veteran, another
Bonnaroovian with an amazing, I started to say story to tell, but you've got about a
dozen or two dozen stories to tell, don't you?
I don't know if we're going to get to them all to be quite honest with you and I'm not
exaggerating or overplaying.
It might have to be a two-parter or a three-parter.
Or a callback or something.
But while we're waiting for the schedule to drop, we still think probably going to be
around the 10th, somewhere around in that area, 9th, 10th or 11th of January, which
should be about the normal time.
I know we've got some things in the works, so I feel pretty confident in saying that.
I know we're all excited about it.
Of course, that means it's rumor season for a lot of people and wishlist.
I mean, it's Christmas, so wishlists are part of what's going on anyway.
But we all have our people we want to see and I'm sure we'll talk to Yvonne about that
in a minute.
But like I said, there's a lot to jump into, so let's go ahead and get into it.
Let's start at the beginning.
Guys, I'm not kidding.
She has about two dozen stories.
So first, I've been for 15 years in a row.
And when you've got 15 years of attending one of the best festivals in the country, there's
going to be a lot of crazy stories.
You could go to one Bonnaroo and you got a lot of crazy stories to tell.
But yeah, so first and foremost, I've been 15 years in a row.
I started as a patron and then over the years, I started documenting it with my camera as
a photographer just for fun, just for myself.
And then over time, I now work in festivals professionally as a living, as a festival
So that's kind of like a sort of overview of what I do.
I started as a fan and then loved documenting it so much that now I shoot.
Last year, I shot 20 festivals on the in-house photo team of some of the biggest festivals
in the country.
So yeah, that's kind of like an overview.
We're going to jump all over the place.
And Taco, you know her story as well as I do.
So jump in with questions.
But so much of what you said already.
Did you 15 years ago, was it your goal to be involved professionally with festivals?
And were you a photographer already?
And how did that evolve?
Because part of what we talk about on here, I talk about a lot is sort of evolution, not
only of the festival, but people like you and people like us.
I know 15 years ago, I never had any idea that I would be doing a podcast related to
But when I look back, it makes absolute perfect sense.
You know what I mean?
And I think Russ would agree.
And I know Brad, our co-host, who by the way, will be joining us again sometime later.
He's taking some time off.
So we're going to do this show every week if we can.
And without him until he joins us back.
But just wanted to get that in there.
But yeah, so was this ever, when did it become an idea?
When did it become a dream?
And then when did it become a reality?
Well, it's really interesting.
I mean, I first fell in love with the festival just as a fan.
And the following year, I got a press pass and I wasn't there as press, just a friend.
I have to give a shout out to my friend Marlo.
You changed my life.
He happened to have a press pass and this was in 2008 where there was no scanning.
You could walk anywhere with a pass and just be like, hey.
I like to joke and say I'm the reason why RFID exists.
Thank you for that or not.
Well, I mean, don't thank me.
No, no, no.
But back in the, but I was always harmless.
I just was backstage and it was the first time I had been backstage like that at this
kind of music festival.
And I had this press pass and I just was like, I was just like, wow, this is so cool.
And then so then the following year, I got a handy cam camcorder and I just started interviewing
And again, nobody was hiring me to do this.
I just wanted to essentially share my love of the festival back with my friends and try
to convince the rest of the world.
You have to come to this festival.
This is the best thing that has ever existed.
It's the coolest thing in the world.
You need to come.
So I was really just sort of always constantly promoting the festival organically and being
I was a huge cheerleader.
That's how you can look at it.
I was just like, but I liked to use media to help entice people to come.
And then I started photographing the festival.
And then that that sort of turned into this whole music journalism, music photography
But initially when I started, I was simply just just a fan.
And my love of the festival is what fueled me wanting to share with the rest of the world.
And so that's kind of really how it all sort of happened.
OK, because because I know a little bit more of your story, I don't want to put words
in your mouth, but you're used.
You would agree you're the type of person that's going to go where they can go and tell
somebody says no.
And and part of the part of what I know is like you're you kind of glossed over your
very first one.
Yeah, I did.
You were with people later.
You rode with people you didn't know.
And then over the years, I think you told me when we ran into each other last year in
back in media area that you'd actually hitchhiked a couple of times more than once.
And you live in what New York?
I lived in New York for a decade and I would I would hitchhike.
I hitchhiked for that for about nine years.
And that's its own show on itself.
I guess we're just going to jump right into it.
But yeah, no, I'm definitely let's talk about let's talk about like the logistics here.
Yeah, my first festival is my first Bonnaroo.
It's still to this day, one of the most important stories that I have to share.
So I thank you to to give me this opportunity to finally share this this story that means
so much to me because it was so life changing.
My first year in 2007 at Bonnaroo leading up to the festival, my younger brother and
I, we he was in he had just graduated high school.
I had just graduated college and we shared music like we would always share like cool
And around that time, there was a festival in Florida called Langerado and we had never
been to it, but we would see these lineups and we thought, wow, music festivals sound
And then when the Bonnaroo 2007 lineup dropped, I mean, that was when you started going consistently.
That lineup still to this day is pretty iconic.
It had the police who hadn't played it.
I don't think had ever played an American music festival.
I don't think they had even played in America and quite some time.
I don't know the logistics, you know, the dates.
But they had it had police and some of my favorite artists, Damien Rice, who is an Irish
folk singer, who is just one of the most beautiful folk artists in the world.
And Manu Chow, who was this international, musically diverse international act that you
can't even really describe, who hadn't performed in America in like 20 years.
And so when I saw those three names on the lineup and then the comedy lineup, which was
another big reason why I loved Bonnaroo so much and hope that they'll bring the comedy,
maybe not the comedy tent back, but I hope that they bring back comedy because it was
the one thing that really made Bonnaroo stick out compared to all the other festivals.
My brother and I, we saw the lineup and we knew that we had to go.
And so I was in New York and he was in Florida.
And so we made this plan.
We're going to meet in the middle of the country and we're going to do this festival.
And so we were set on it.
So he was 18.
He bought his bus ticket and he bought his Bonnaroo ticket because he's a responsible
He did not hitchhike.
He's always had a really good head on his shoulders.
But I was an actress living in New York City.
Basically I was a starving artist.
I was poor for a lot of the time.
Anyway, so, so we decided we were going to go to this festival and I fell sick.
I fell very sick and I ended up in the hospital with a very rare stomach virus that was progressive
getting worse and worse and worse.
And the doctors really didn't know what to do.
And I was up in New York alone.
I didn't have any family.
I had like two friends.
And for me as I was 23 at the time, I had never been in the hospital.
I felt like I was on my deathbed.
And I think that when anybody ever experiences a real near death experience, it really changes
your perspective on life completely.
And I thought that I was, I felt like I was dying and I thought I was going to die.
But then I slowly started getting better.
And this was two weeks before we were supposed to go to Bonnaroo.
I eventually got out and made it back to my house and was just like, I need to go to this
I had been out of work for two weeks because I was in the hospital.
So I didn't have any money.
I didn't have the money to go.
I didn't, I was going to buy a flight.
I didn't have the money for a flight.
I was going to buy our camping gear.
I didn't have money for anything.
And I, but I had this very gut instinct that I had to go and that I had to be there with
my younger brother and that I had to like protect him.
It was this very strange feeling and one of the strongest gut feelings I've ever experienced
in my life.
A friend said, go and the universe will provide for you.
And I thought, okay, I'm going to go.
I'm going to go.
I've never done anything crazy like this before at this point in my life.
I found three men who were three friends who were driving from Jersey to Tennessee.
And I just said, Hey, like this was back on the info room, like the early info room days.
Do you remember?
So this was when it was really popular and I mean, it still is, but this was when it
was like pre Reddit days.
And I found a guy who was willing to drive me from Jersey to Tennessee for free.
And then on the way to the, to the festival, I tell them like, yeah, so I'm hoping that
when I get there, I'll find a ticket.
And they, and like the car went silent and they were like, and they all like looked at
each other and they looked at me and, and they were like, what?
And I'm like, yeah, no, I, I don't have a ticket and, and I also don't have any money,
but I'm going to get in.
I'm going to get in.
And it was just this like pure delusion because I had almost just died and nothing mattered.
Nothing in the matter in the world mattered because I was alive.
And so like anything's possible at that point.
And somehow the driver who's to this day, I need to go back and figure out who this
man is because he changed my life.
He was able to find a $50 ticket somehow from somebody and he, and my younger brother lent
me the 50 bucks.
I mean, whatever.
So, so we, I got a ticket, I got the ride.
You had no money.
When you say you had no money, you had no money.
I was a aspiring actress in New York city.
I had no money.
I had no money.
So no, I literally don't even think I had $20 to my name.
I had just been in the hospital for two weeks.
So at that point there, there was no, and, and savings for a 23 year old, that didn't
So, so sorry to all the, the responsible adults in the world with their finances, but that's
just anyway, but yeah.
So I'm going to skip a little bit because it's, I know it's already a really long story,
but or, or can I just tell you this one part that's really special?
And then I promise I'll move on.
This part, this part's really, this part's really special.
So when I was in New York about to hop in the car, I'm on the phone with my brother.
He had hopped on a gray hound the day before.
So he left two days before I, I was leaving and he forgot his cell phone charger at home.
So he turned his cell phone off and I said, listen, I hope I see you.
I might be going, I might not.
I don't know.
I hope to see you there.
Like hopefully I'll make it somehow.
So, so he has no idea.
I, and he's on the bus, we're driving down and we, we pull up to the farm for the first
And it was just this like come to Jesus moment where, you know, like I can't believe that
we made it and that I made it and that I'm here.
And somehow that's what's so exciting about Bonnaroo is even the journey for most people
is such a big part of the story because the friends backing out at the last minute or
the car breaking down on the side of the road or you, people quitting their jobs just to
get the weekend off.
I mean, there's so much that goes into just getting to the festival.
And so, so we get there, we pull up and at this point I'm driving and this car pulls
over and says, Hey, our friends are in front of you.
Do you mind if we skip ahead?
We want to camp together.
And I'm like, yeah, sure.
You know, we've already, it's already been 15 hours.
What's another five minutes?
So I'm like, yeah, sure.
But then the next car comes in and is like, Hey, I want to come.
And I'm like, like, all right, sure, sure.
And then the third car and like the whole car is just very disgruntled.
And they're just like, all right, that's it.
Stop letting people in.
Like, you know, you gotta, we gotta get into, and I was like, okay, all right.
Like we're not going to let anybody else in.
We're going in next.
Like we're, you know, at the, at the checkpoint where you're about to get your car searched
and your wristband scanned.
And uh, all of a sudden this mob of like this little mob of what I like to call just a mob
of hippies show up on foot.
And I'm just like, and they walk in front of our car, even though there's like 15 other
lines to go through.
And then we're, and then we're like, Oh God, you know, like really good.
We got to wait for like 15 kids now to get searched and body searched.
And then, and then I was like telling the whole car, like, look, we don't know where
they came from.
They're on foot.
Like let's just let them go.
You know, like it was this whole thing where it, cause it was one car after the other,
after the other and talk about blue balls, you know, we're just trying to get it, you
So anyway, all of a sudden this one kid turns around and it's my little brother who left
on a bus two days before me and somehow arrived at the same toll booth at the same time.
We had the same gate at the same time, the same second.
And had I not let those three cars go, we never would have seen them.
So to me, like, yeah, you know, that's, that's just, how can you, how can you ever top anything?
You know, like this, that's just the magic of Bonnaroo for me.
And, and, uh, we hadn't even gotten into the gates yet.
So, yeah, so that's my first journey there.
So we got so much to talk about.
We could just keep talking about that first one.
So you, like me, you and like everyone that I talked to first one meant a lot.
You have those magical moments.
You're determined to go back next year.
When did you start hitchhiking?
Well, technically, so, so when I say hitchhiking, it's a little bit different than, although
I had, I had many times put, you know, actually I would make the same mistake.
I would make a cardboard sign.
I would mostly hitchhike home.
Uh, on the, on the farm and I would get like a cardboard and I'd write NYC.
But when I say, when I say hitchhiking, I guess I kind of consider it more of like a
technological hitchhiking where, um, this was in the early days where social media didn't
really exist, like Instagram, Facebook.
I think my space existed, um, but I would just find random people on the internet.
So it's a little bit different.
I would, uh, you weren't out on the side of the freeway hoping somebody was going to
I was, I was, I would never, I would never thumb my way to, to Bonnaroo, but I thumbed
my way home every year for nine years.
And so what I like to call it is choose your own adventure Bonnaroo.
So every summer I would, after Bonnaroo was over, I would just let the wind guide me and
say, how am I getting to New York now?
And I would just ask people and I'd find somebody or I'd stand on the side of the highway and
they would be like, well, we're not going to New York, but we're going to Philly.
And I go perfect.
And then, and then I'd take a bus from Philly or sometimes I'd take, uh, you know, I hit
your ride to Knoxville and then I'd take a train.
And so it was kind of like, choose your own adventure for, I did that for nine years and
then I had to, had to stop that.
Did you document that part of the journey as well?
I mean, were you taking cameras and, uh, did you keep a journal?
Have you written any of this stuff down?
Nice journals, journals.
Uh, I was very diligent about journals.
Uh, I, unfortunately I've with, with social media, I sort of use my Instagram to share
stories or, um, and I, and I wrote a blog for a long time about my Bonnaroo adventures.
Can people still see those?
Oh God, I hope not.
Whatever you do.
God, nobody needs to see whatever I was writing in my mid twenties.
Um, now, so the legit, going back to logistics again, I mean, what do you bring in with you?
Uh, very good question.
In the early days, I wasn't bringing anything but a duffle bag of clothes.
Terrible, terrible idea.
I think we talked to Cassie about that.
You got to bring some shade.
Um, you would think, you would think, especially after many years of heat exhaustion, but it
I just, I, I needed to hitch rides with strangers, uh, from New York for, for the first nine
years because then I started working as press and then I started working at the festival
So then I was provided lodging and RVs and hotels at a certain point.
So, you know, things have changed, but for the first nine years as a patron, um, I could
only logistically bring a large duffle bag and, and, and a tent.
Although the first two years we didn't, my younger brother and I didn't have a tent and
we slept outside and I have a photo of us just sleeping on a blanket.
Like it's crazy, but we, you know, it was always like finances.
It was just like, we, we couldn't afford it.
Like he was in college.
I was an actress and there was some pretty good rain that oh seven year, if I remember
I don't remember the rain in 2007, but, but yes.
So there's been many years of rain and I have been flooded.
I think we've all been traumatized.
Oh God, your air going out of your air mattress while it's raining and you're suddenly in
the, in the ground, not on the ground, you're in the ground, in the ground and in a puddle.
So I do have one tip on that note about logistics is I would always, after I got flooded, I
think in 2012, like it was 2010, it was some serious flooding.
I came back from a crazy wild night to my tent and it was soaking wet and there's just nothing
worse than your bed and sleeping bag being, you know, soaking, like there's nothing worse.
So I, I have this trick that I put all of my clothes into a giant black lawn trash bag
and then I wrap all my linen and comforter into a big black trash bag.
So when I leave for the day, if it rains, if it pours, I'm coming back to some dry.
So that's a good one.
So how did, and this always intrigues people.
David Bruce being one, you know, I am Bonnaroo who suddenly, not suddenly it evolved.
Same with you found yourself, you know, as basically working press or working media or
working for the festival.
How did, how did that evolve?
So the first, the first few years I had a handy cam camcorder and I was just interviewing
people for fun and wanted to hear their stories.
I always loved finding people that had gone every year, so I would look for people that
had been all 20 years, cause now it's 20 official Bonnaroo's.
I loved finding those people and that really was like, wow, I really want to be a music
journalist like this, you know, kind of like you.
It's like, I want to help share the gospel of Bonnaroo.
And then I was able to afford a digital camera, like a professional DSLR camera.
And I snuck it into Bonnaroo 2014 and I started a photo series called babes and beards of
And it was just a photo project.
That's me and Barry, babes and beards.
Babes and beards.
Well, we'll have to, I'll have to photograph you for the series next summer.
But it was just a fun little way for me to, again, I just wanted to, you know, cause prior
to that digital camera that I bought, I brought little point and shoots and I brought disposable
cameras and this was the first year that I had quality photos that I could create a blog,
And to be honest, the first year that I did it was kind of like an icebreaker for me.
I had gone with my younger brother for the first six years, but then on that seventh
year he couldn't come.
And so it was the first year of several years that I went solo.
So because I was by myself that year, it was a nice way to be able to go and say hi to
people and say, Hey, can I take your picture?
And I would meet like really cool people and, and just sort of fell in love with, with festival
photography that year in particular.
And then over time it evolved into this like huge passion and, and career.
But yeah, that was my first year.
You were, you remind me of something that I didn't really think about.
Cause I went basically by myself for 10 years, maybe I didn't really start hanging around
with what became camp, camp nut butter till eight or nine.
I can't even remember.
But there's a lot of freedom in being by yourself.
I know a lot for a lot of people, it's very scary.
They like, you know, I think I even said to you, I can't believe it.
I believe you did that by yourself, you know, basically getting rides like that.
But there it's, it's very freeing.
You do what you want to do when you want to do it.
And you figure out pretty quickly, especially there.
People are really very nice.
They're happy to share.
They're happy to tell their story.
So I'm guessing that's the way you found it.
And I think that everybody in the world, anybody who loves music festivals should attend one
festival alone at some point, even if it's for just one day.
There's a lot of people in the world and my, you know, I, I, I, there's a lot of people,
like you said, that are scared and, and I get it as a young woman, as a woman in general,
it's, it's, it can be a scary thing.
The world can be a scary place.
But, but the point is, is that there's people who can't see them.
They worry too much about the perception of being alone and doing things like people who
can't go to the movies alone or who can't go to dinner alone or who can't go to theater
And I, I encourage anybody who has that, that, that stops themselves from doing anything
that they want to do because of the fear of being perceived alone.
I make that your 2024 resolution and go out and, and get over it.
Cause once you start doing it, soon, you don't care at all.
And then, and then it, and like you said, it's very freeing.
But two things, two things about doing Bonnaroo free about going alone.
I know you can tell that I'm very excited.
That's why we're here.
Two things about going alone to, to Bonnaroo in particular, just any festival, I suppose.
Well, no, about Bonnaroo.
First and foremost, I've always said you're never really alone on the farm.
You're never really alone on the farm because even if you go alone, your neighbors are your
new best friends.
The, the, the, the people that are, you know, uh, waiting for the, your favorite band to
show up, the amount of friends you make at Bonnaroo, it's, it's, I have so many friends
that I met while being alone at Bonnaroo.
So that's the beauty of Bonnaroo is you're never really alone.
And then second, there's a lot of benefits of going alone to Bonnaroo.
Like you said, first of all, the freedom, you don't have to worry about anybody else's
food schedule, bathroom schedule, sleep schedule.
You don't have to worry about the bands that they want to see.
You don't have to worry about whether they're being entertained or not.
I mean, that's, that's huge.
I don't want to cut you off, but it seems it's a good, it's a good time.
Uh, cause I wanted to mention, um, I think this is sort of a good juxtaposition a little
Russ, you were on a really good show with, uh, several of our friends who are now our
friends because of Bonnaroo, the real robust guys and all of the RooHamm guys.
You had all, all six of them.
It sounded like, uh, uh, Jake Reed and, uh, uh, Jake and, uh, Parker and Michael.
This was four.
No, it's three.
Um, and, uh, Bonnaroo and, uh, David Bruce joined you and a lot of that conversation,
uh, of on, if you haven't heard it, I highly recommend it was a good episode, a lot of
good trivia and it sounded like you guys had a good time, but a lot of that conversation
was much of what we all talk about is how you meet people.
You make new friends.
They become year round friends.
Um, they, you share a lot of stories about doing things in group, which they've done
doing things as a group.
Um, but, and we've said on, on this show before, you know, don't go with a, a spouse or a significant
other if they're not committed because you'll end up worrying more about them and you both
have a bad time.
Uh, don't be locked in on, um, what the people in your group are doing, what they're going
Uh, I think Russ, you and I talked with Cassie last week, we probably been the two shows
together and it was because we found each other when we were there, not that we went
We also go our separate ways.
And to me, that's been a huge part of, of, uh, the experience is that everyone, you know,
if you want to go, go, if you don't go, it's fine.
We're not worried about your, like you said, your, your food schedule, your anything schedule.
Uh, they do their own thing, but, but everybody manages to find a way to be together and those,
so you have all of that.
So I just think that's a really good point that, um, and I've never really only recently
have I seen any kind of issues where somebody should feel a little uncomfortable.
I've never, you know, heard a crossword.
Everybody looks out for everybody.
The vibe is that's, that's, that's part of the, you know, the ethos that's you learn
Be cool to everybody.
Um, so exactly.
It's the one festival that, that it's, it's the only festival in the country that I found
after working a hundred festivals that it's the culture, the community, it, it, it does
feel like the safest place because, uh, the purpose of Bonnaroo for so many people is
that freedom is, is to be your true self, to be who you are, to, you know, let your
freak flag fly, so to speak for some people.
And so, and when I, when I said, like, you know, being worrisome, I mean, I guess just
in general, I mean that just in, just in life in general, life can be a little tricky.
But it's one of the things I learned early and I remember coming home telling my wife
and even coworkers is you, you've, you, you leave there thinking, why can't it be like
this all the time everywhere?
You know, just be nice, man.
Just be kind.
It's really simple.
It's not hard.
Do you guys, do you guys feel that when you go to Bonnaroo and then you leave, you, you,
you want to take that there's this essence and spirit of Bonnaroo that you only feel
there and you, I try to bring that back to the rest of the world.
And it's also a state of mind that I try to carry that with me as well.
I try to, it's almost like you just let your shoulders drop and everything's going to
So I, I don't know about, about Ross, but I feel like I'm able to carry it more year
round and it's partly because of this show and partly because we talked to so many people.
You know, if I need a little booster or a little reminder, we, we tend to get it.
So yeah, it's, it's really not that hard to just be kind.
So it didn't cost anything.
I'm, I don't have all of the things you sent me in front of me, but you, you've done, you've
compiled, you've done a couple of film shorts, right?
You put some stuff together and, and obviously some photos and I know you sent them to us
and, and I'm sure Ross is going to drop a bunch of those in as we're talking.
Yeah, that'd be cool.
And, but you mentioned some highlights for you.
So now that you've, now that you've done media and it is different.
It's a different view of the things from back there in some ways you get to hang out with
the artists and musicians and, and I'm guessing you're like me, you figure out pretty quickly.
They're just people like everybody else, but it's still pretty cool to get that sort of
sense of it.
So do you have a, I mean, do you, when you're there, do you prefer to hang out back there?
You like being out and GA, you like being out in center.
Is it all just part of the day that you take it all in?
I think that there's excitement with all of it.
I like to end my nights in center room to some extent, cause sometimes that's where
the parties are happening.
But now with where in the woods, I love going to the where in the woods.
That's always a good time.
I think that for a lot of the years being, I obviously being in the photo pit is my favorite
place because I'm getting to see the music firsthand, like right there in front of me,
so close, but then I'm also getting to create art.
So that's where I spend most of my time when I'm photographing, but there's sort of two
parts to my journey with Bondur.
There was the years that I was a patron and then there were years where the past five
years I've been on the video team, on the official video team for Bonnaroo.
So I've been working essentially.
So this past year for my 15th anniversary, I decided that I wanted to step down from
the video team and like you mentioned that freedom.
I wanted to just work with a couple artists as their creators this year, this past Bonnaroo.
But prior to that, I was working and I had no choice where I could be.
I had to go be on this schedule at this time and this place.
I will do that at any other festival, but I decided after being on the video team at
Bonnaroo for I think for three years, I was on the video team.
I can't be locked in a cage at the most freeing place in the world and I will never regret
I will never forget it.
It was some of the most beautiful experiences of my life and an honor to be on the most
brilliant team of filmmakers.
The team that I worked with for three years is Human Being Media and for the past decade,
they've done any of the videos that you've seen out of Bonnaroo.com, Instagram.
When you're at Bonnaroo and they release that daily video, that was our team.
So that was the team that we were pumping out these videos every day.
That's super cool.
Yeah, it's super cool.
I sent you one of my favorites that I really love where I did the interviews for that one.
There's another amazing video team there called Lock and Key Video and they do a ton of great
videos as well.
Yeah, we've met them.
Yeah, so they're incredible as well.
But after three years of really capturing the beauty of the festival, I just decided
for my 15th anniversary, I really wanted to tap back into the joy and the love of the
festival for myself.
So I stepped down from the video team and I think I'm going to keep doing that.
I really like having my free time.
I get it.
I totally get it.
You get it.
I've been doing this for so many years.
For me, you get really excited leading up, scheduling, I'm going to go see this and lining
up interviews and all of that.
It's a lot of fun.
It's a lot of work and people don't believe that because they just think you're hanging
out with musicians or whatever.
But it's doing an interview and then finding a place to sit down with a computer and doing
your job for eight, nine, 10, 12 hours a day.
Calling people, trying to get quotes to see if you can finish a story.
I've seen you have to do that.
And somehow you always find yourself on the other side of the farm from where you want
to be at whatever time.
You want to be in front of the what stage for this and you're out in CA or something.
Again, not complaining.
It beats anything else I can think of.
But I did there, you know, been some years where I'm like, I'm not doing the bare minimum,
So I totally get it.
Are you still in that mindset now, like this past summer?
Did you kind of enjoy yourself?
Well, two summers ago, probably a little more and just before.
I mean, last summer was all about the podcast, whatever work.
But I had a short visit.
I was only there for what, 30 hours or something because I have a new job.
So I didn't get there till Saturday morning.
And then we had a family issue with an animal.
So I had to leave Sunday earlier than I had hoped to.
So but quite honestly, if I remember right, Russ, I was we were still we had set up so
many interviews that we were running running around doing that, which was still knocked
a lot out when you were here.
It was good.
So it was work to you to answer your but so I've done both now.
I've done all kinds of different ways.
What have you seen talk about evolution because you've seen it a lot of different angles.
What do you think of sort of how the festival has evolved?
What stands out for you?
I think I'm one of those people for 10 years where I would say, Boner who hasn't changed,
I mean, I was just, you know, and I still am a diehard fan.
Don't get me wrong.
But the festival has changed.
The festival has legitimately changed.
Ownership has changed like a couple times.
And when you have new ownership, things are going to change.
I think that one of the there's two things, two major changes.
First and foremost, they stopped the comedy tent and I still say we need to bring it back.
It was fun.
There's the amount of incredible insane shows that I would see at that comedy tent was worth
the ticket alone was worth traveling from New York City.
You know, so strange you say that for me, there was a lot of moments on especially in
2007 when I started going regularly, where I ran into something and thought, OK, this
This is why this is different.
It's not just a lineup of music and seeing the flight of the Concords in the comedy tent
was first of all, I didn't know who they were and became a huge fan.
And then secondly, I was like, that's really cool.
You know, that somebody thought of that.
And then seeing the NBA finals in a tent there, too, is a Celtics fan was like these people,
you know, whoever's curating this has me at heart is what it felt like.
That's what I'm saying.
Somebody sat there and said, God, there's a game on tonight.
I'd like to see it on a big screen.
And they did.
Was that in the was that in the cinema tent?
That one was actually outside.
They showed kind of like what they did with Conan the year he was there.
He was inside the comedy tent, but they put a big screen out in the kind of where the
water slide is that sort of area.
OK, yes, I know.
I know exactly what you're talking about.
I don't remember who was playing.
It might have been the flaming lips or somebody, but it was weird because you could hear the
crowd roar depending on whether the Lakers were scoring or the Celtics were.
Anyway, those kind of moments are not what you expect at a music festival.
So I interrupted your your answer to your question.
Comedy being one.
What else are the changes?
Comedy comedy is definitely one of the biggest ones that I I think that the biggest issue
with the comedy tent was the logistics of getting fans into the tent safely.
There was and also just people waiting around for several hours while music is happening
just to get a ticket.
They started this ticket system.
So it was really just a logistics issue that they really it was they really just needed
to hire somebody that like specializes in that exact thing.
Like say when you go to Disneyland, there's a line and there's little barricades.
Well, I think it was that the tent was small.
And then I think they also figured out that whatever percentage of the people waiting
in that long line were waiting to get in because it was air conditioned.
If you remember, which was about the only place on the farm you could get any kind of
So I think it's very true.
But as a diehard comedian, comedy fan, I was standing in the sun for three hours to get
Now, it was were you in that line where the tree was providing a little shade and people
would just sit and move as the shade and move to me?
No, that one.
I do remember that tree fondly.
But yeah, no, it was just a logistics thing.
But again, I do believe that I think that the people who booked the comedy tent and
having it be a mini comedy festival within a music festival, there's no other country
in the nation that does that, especially not as good as Bonnaroo did.
So that's the number one big change.
I think the other biggest change was remember over by the Ferris wheel a decade or two ago
in the early days.
That would be where the little sponsorship area would be.
And you if you were like me, you could just put on your what do you call it when you put
on blinders, blinders and just look this way and be like, Bonnaroo, it's not corporate.
And you didn't you didn't have to look and you didn't have to participate and you didn't
have to care about whatever was going on over there.
But then people would be like Bonnaroo so corporate now, blah, blah, blah.
But I have to say something to those people.
As somebody who was like always just like don't look at it if you don't like it.
I've always been that type of person.
But now I really want to talk to those people who say, oh, Bonnaroo is a sellout and Bonnaroo
is corporate and all that stuff.
I now work with those big brands who sponsor the festivals.
And just as an example, I work for Red Bull.
I'm one of their festival photographers.
They provide hundreds of thousands, if not some brands provide a million dollars to Bonnaroo
so that Bonnaroo can exist.
And so without those big scary corporations having a presence on the farm, there would
be no Bonnaroo, no money, no mission.
Yeah, it's I agree.
I mean, we started seeing it five, six, seven years in when you could sort of feel their
their push to take care of VIP and some years I felt like they did it well.
And some years I felt like it was being you couldn't like couldn't avoid it.
They just passed the past two years.
You just can't avoid it.
No, but I also feel like last year, especially two years ago, it felt really bad.
Last year, it felt like they're starting to get a better handle on going back and, you
know, looking at it from a fan's eyes.
I've definitely felt that last year, more so than two years ago and and probably even
in 18 or 19, you know, right before the pandemic.
And that that's part of that transition with AC and Superfly sort of being bought out by
Live Nation, C3 and Live Nation.
And they have a way of doing things.
And I felt like it lost its way a little bit as a fan from their point of view.
They probably you know, they were putting they were tightening things up.
But I have to say, especially the last year and a half, two years, and I've talked to
the people, you know, we've we've had the good fortune, Taco and I have to talk to the
people making the decisions and a lot, you know, not just at that festival, but other
festivals and their fans.
I mean, you get it right away.
They are they are us, you know, sort of sort of thing.
So, well, you know, but they do have to make money.
They don't have a festival if they don't make money.
So it's just pure and simple like that.
So all right.
Well, who do you want to see who you're hoping to hear called out?
Well, I really hope that City in Color, they're a folk band from Canada, City in Color, an
unknown folk artist called Penny and Sparrow.
You know, you know, Penny and Sparrow, we got to get them on the line.
They're so underrated and they need to they need the exposure.
I would love to see Damien Rice come back, Manu Chow come back.
I also love pop.
I would love to see Lady Gaga perform.
I am a I also am a big fan of Magic City hippies.
I've worked with them a bunch.
I'd love to see Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals come back, maybe even headline that
Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals.
That would be wonderful.
What about you guys?
Who are you guys excited to see on the lineup?
I've gotten to where I it doesn't matter.
I mean, we've been fortunate that I've seen most everybody that I want to see got to see,
you know, my morning jacket again last year.
So I'm still kind of riding that wave.
Yeah, that that interview was amazing, by the way, that would be great.
That was such a good one.
Yeah, that was I want to go back and listen to it again.
It was a really great interview.
Yeah, really great.
You know, you hope when you meet people you admire so much like that, that they are who
you think they are.
And he was beyond and so giving of his time and and his story.
I mean, and mental health was has become such a big topic.
And for him to, you know, share what he did was pretty incredible.
So yeah, I'm glad you liked it, because I sure did.
I loved that story that he said where he was backstage trying to get a ride somewhere and
they were and they were like and they're like, no, sorry, this is for the role like a rock
And he's like, that's us.
I am a rock star.
I am a rock star.
Yeah, that was funny.
That's such a such a hilarious story.
I love that episode.
So I don't know, Taco, you know, you've you mentioned on the again, the real robust some
of the guys you want to see, which I agreed with.
Yeah, I want to see Primus come back and we might have missed that Rush tribute show.
But yeah, bring back Les Claypool in any one of his 27 bands.
I'd be fine with me.
Yeah, I'm kind of you know, I still some of those bands that the covid years took away,
I'd like to see.
I'd still like to see Miley, you know.
Some of that still stings when you look back at those lineups and think, oh, yeah, we missed
Where I am now, Yvonne is I want to see the few acts that I haven't, you know, the Stones,
Van Morrison, stuff like that.
I don't know that they're going to play a Bonnaroo.
But I also I just love going and coming away with a favorite new band that I'd never heard
That to me has become such a huge part of this.
So and I have to admit, I listened to the RooHamm guys podcast from a couple of weeks
ago talking about their lists.
And I'm pretty sure I knew none.
That's what I love when I listen to you guys read your episodes where you're reading the
I love listening to it.
And like as like as you get further down the lineup, I'm like, I don't know who any of
those people are.
We don't know.
We didn't even know what B2B meant.
Is that a band?
I feel like I remember that.
I mean, Bonnaroo is definitely one of the few festivals where I'm going to go no matter
what the lineup is.
But there is something really special.
And I personally haven't really seen like an all time favorite at Bonnaroo in a few
So I'd like for some of my favorites to come to the farm.
So I'll always go no matter who's playing.
But it's always really special when you I would love for for that to happen again.
To me, you know, we've talked about the the radiate positively and just be kind to people
and all that.
And that's that's a huge part of what the festival has done.
But we've said since the beginning, and I mean it sincerely, it really brought live
music back for a lot of people.
And we touched on it a little with Danny Clinch the other day.
But I thought about it more after we hung up.
Before Bonnaroo, it was a lot of arena festival shows, you know, 10, 12,000 people.
And they don't know if you remember, but the industry kind of did away with festival seating.
So everybody had to be in a chair kind of sitting down.
And it really took a lot of the rock and roll out of music for me and a lot of other people.
You know, before that, you got there early and you fought your way to the stage and you
tried to get up front to see your favorite act and you didn't know what was going to
And it just became kind of cookie cutter, quite honestly.
And with Bonnaroo, not just you know, you know, you're going to see out of 150 bands,
there's going to be 50 to 100 you've never heard of.
But you know, they're going to be good.
And you know, it's going to be they're going to do their very best.
And so it's I think it's just changed attitudes about music and live shows.
So yeah, for sure.
Well, we've kept you for a good while.
Thank you so much for doing this.
Is there anything on your your resume?
Like I said, we could do a whole nother episode.
Is there anything I didn't ask about that you wanted to make sure?
Is there a website people can go and see your work?
Don't I know, say don't look for your blogs, your old blogs, but please, but is there anything
else that people can go and see your photographs and your videos or?
Yeah, so so my website is seek the light photos dot com.
So seek S E E K seek the light photos dot com.
And that there you could see all the festivals that I photograph.
A lot of the videos that I've worked on.
And but I just wanted to say thank you to thank you to both of you because you know,
especially in the early days of the podcast, you know, having something to listen to consistently
keep that energy alive about the farm for a long time, like really helped me get to
the summer, you know.
So I wanted to thank you guys for what you guys do, dedicating your time to this.
And I also want to give a huge shout out to the original founders, the Superfly team.
Without them, the festival wouldn't exist.
Ken Weinstein, who is the nicest guy in the world.
And then I, yeah, I do.
I do want to give a shout out to to my I just want to give a shout out to to important people,
three important people, Steve, Trevor and Doug.
They are the people who hired me from Red Bull.
And I met them because of our mutual love of Bonnaroo.
That Red Bull ended up hiring me to be their festival photographer.
And without their support, I wouldn't be able to do this full time as a career.
And so to Doug and Trevor specifically, we like our huge diehard Bonnaroovians.
And we've all been I think they've been 16, 17 years.
So without their support, I just wouldn't get to do what I do.
And I just really wanted to give them a shout out as well.
So very cool.
Thank you again for your time.
See you on the farm.
Yeah, we'll talk soon.
See you on the farm.
There you go.
We could have talked to her for a long time, right?
I know I feel like we didn't even get into half of the things we could have talked about.
Yeah, we just fascinating.
I feel as I could have taken any one of those topics and gone deeper and deeper.
But I knew there was a lot we wanted to get to and, you know, limited amount of time.
So interesting conversation and you get pretty clear the passion, you can hear it and see
it in her voice.
And that's it's amazing, man.
There's so many people with, like I said, not the exact story, but similar stories and
common threads throughout.
And we keep meeting people and running into people and talking to people that are just
Yeah, I'm sure they won't be the last, you know, we'll have more on.
I actually got to meet her in person last year on the farm.
And that's the other fun part about this is when you talk to these people, whether it's
email or on the show, they become friends.
I mean, it's not just acquaintances.
So that's the another beauty, beautiful part of this festival.
So all right, Russ, I don't know what our next show will be, but we'll line something
We'll get something going.
And yeah, thanks for listening and good to see you.
Be sure and like and share and do all that stuff.
And if you don't mind, if you got a minute, go on and review this episode of the show
that helps that helps us a lot and doesn't cost you a thing.
Thanks again to Consequence for letting us do this.
Thanks to you guys for listening.
That also lets us do this.
It'd be kind of boring if it was just me and Russ talking to each other and doing all these
videos just for us.
See everyone later.