This week Brad and Barry get insight from Relix editor (and the brains behind the Bonnaroo Beacon) Mike Greenhaus! Plus, as we get closer to Roo the guys have a request for you, the listener. Cool?
Guest: Mike Greenhaus
Journey through the stories that define the artists playing Bonnaroo. Who are they? What are they? What will you see? The what? Which bands? This year? That matter? With Brad Steiner and Barry Courter. Hey Barry Courter from the Chattanooga Times Two Press. Do you have a few friends that want you to help you raise some hell? You got a few of those? I got a few of those. You got a few of those? I do. You got a few of those? In a couple of weeks? I think so. They don't always put it that way but it's essentially the same thing. Yeah because when you look at me you think hell raiser. I know. Yeah that's not the type that we roll with but it's the same thing. Yeah welcome to the what podcast. This is a Bonnaroo podcast for Bonnaroovians by Bonnaroovians. The Bonnaroovians being us. That's Barry Courter from the Chattanooga Times Three Press. I'm Brad Steiner from Hits 96W DoD in Chattanooga. Just a few days away it feels like it's right there in our grasps. It's right there Barry and I feel like I feel the fever is coming on. The fever is coming on. Absolutely. We had a probably best meeting that I've attended on Sunday. We had our Bonnaroov group meeting. Yeah we got our whole team together. We started planning and strategizing what our campsite was going to be. Helped that it was over beers on a beautiful day watching minor league baseball. Right. Yeah. But that's what we suggest you do by the way. Get your campsite together and start planning what exactly camp is going to be. We have decided to you know get the band back together this year and go all out. The game got upped. Yes it did. In which way? In what way do you think the game got upped? I don't remember so many of us. Brad always is sort of the leader in the of the pack when it comes to amenities. I like to make it nice for you guys. Brad brings the solar lights and the picket fence and that kind of. And the 600 square feet of carpet. And the carpet. Yeah. But I think everybody on Sunday was into adding this and adding that. I don't want to give anything away but. Yeah because there need to be surprises sure. Pretty crazy ideas. Now the reason why we're going all out is because the anticipation it feels like every single week there's something that makes us more excited and more excited about the festival. And this week I can't believe I'm saying this but I'm really excited about the Grand Ole Opry. I'm glad to hear you say that because I was going to say I may surprise you but I'm going by there. I like. Now wait a second that sounds like a drive by. That sounds like a pop in. No I'm going to watch. I'm going to watch. I like good country music. I like old country music. It's not something I live with all the time but every so often I got to turn it on turn it up. Now they announced the Grand Ole Opry lineup which I don't really understand what this is going to be. Is this going to be a stage. This is going to be a super jam. What exactly is this. I'm not 100 percent sure either. I'm wondering if it's like when they had the kind of a New Orleans was it a tent or tribute with Alan Toussaint was there. Right. It was kind of a smaller deal but it was a lot of New Orleans flavored acts. I'm not 100 percent sure. I know it's on the schedule seems like later in the weekend. Now when you when you say that that now I'm not a country it's on Sunday by the way. I don't know country music. I mean I know the name Brother Osborne. I know some of these people that were announced but go through some of the names. There's one in particular that I that caught my attention. I think there might be two. Dale McCurry is the headline. That's the one. Yeah. So is he is the gosh I don't know if you call it second generation. He is the Bill Monroe the living Bill Monroe I guess he and his sons continue to tour. I'm not that particular a fan not particularly that a fan of that type of bluegrass that nasally twangy out of tune. That's not my thing. Wait. I'm sorry. I said it. Your your combination that you're not into is nasally twangy and out of tune. No. Oh come on. No. What kind of music fan are you? He plays traditional bluegrass which to me there's really only one song played three different ways fast faster and faster. OK. It's my opinion. I know a lot of people like it. I do like a lot of the new grass as it's called. But I've seen Dale and they're great. I mean they're all very good at what they do. So I'm looking forward to Bobby Bear. He sort of falls in that again right after the the Hank Williams and those guys. He's in that sort of outlaw country kind of. Right. And the only song I remember his is Drop Kick Me Jesus. Drop Kick Me Jesus. Exactly. Now back to Del McCurry because one of our campmates has a really great story about Del McCurry because he's been to Bonnaroo before. Yes. And the story pretty much goes that Del McCurry is one of these guys that just doesn't care and he will play anywhere anytime with anyone. Doesn't matter. He's just old school like that. Absolutely. And they're walking around the backstage area I guess is before one of his shows or some after one of his shows doesn't really matter. They don't really remember. I don't really remember the story specifically but they're walking around backstage and Del is sitting there. A couple of his bandmates are sitting there and out of nowhere during a conversation that that our campmate just struck up with Del McCurry they just did a impromptu song right there on the spot. That sounds about right. I think Del fits into that Colonel Bruce Hampton sort of camp. Right. That's who I was thinking of. Yeah. I remember. Let's just play. Let's just play right now. Don't care who. Don't care what. If you can prove you can find mine let's play. That's absolutely Dale. And to add on to what I said I've always respected that about him. It's just not my go to listening. Who else is on there? So you got Bobby Bear, Brothers Osborne, Old Crowe Medicine Show, Lucy Silva's, Lenko, Riders in the Sky and Nikki Lane. Okay. All right. So it is I got to imagine they're going to be bringing up some other people too. Like random hey why don't you come on stage. It sounds like that kind of group. It does sound like that. It sort of sounds like this podcast. If you can come on we'll put you on. It sounds like a Grand Ole Opry Super Jam. Right. But haven't they done that before? Didn't they do a Grand Ole Opry Super Jam before? Was that am I just thinking of the normal bluegrass without Ed Helms. That's well yeah Ed Helms has helped has hosted a bluegrass thing for that what the last three years running. Yeah it feels like it's a staple and I think it shocked everybody that wasn't going to be on the lineup this year. I mean who knows he might have been busy or it may have run its course. I don't know. But yeah they've done that and I know they've had some you know it's an hour from Nashville so I know they've had some drop ins before which honestly surprisingly not as many as you might think or I would think being so close. Right. I know AC has gone after that AC Entertainment one of the co-founders. I know they now have an office in Nashville. The Country Fest is that same week. CMA Fest. CMA Fest is that same week. See the difference between CMA Fest and Bonnaroo is that the CMA Fest are paying them to be there. You know and not often I mean think about this I mean if I'm an hour and a half away from you Barry are you just going to pop in and help me out. For free? Yeah. Probably not. Probably not. Maybe once. You better feed me. Right. But yeah they are. I can barely get to come over to help me fix my plumbing much less come down an hour and a half play a show. So there are those conflicts which in a way it's kind of unbelievable that middle Tennessee is the center of the music universe. For that weekend. For that weekend. It's unbelievable and because it's the center of the universe it attracts so many eyes ears one of which is Relix magazine. Is it would you say a Relix or a Relix? I say Relix. Well you know what I'm going to go Relix then damn it. Fine. You go Relix I go Relix. See where the cards fall. Tomato. When we started compiling a list of people that we wanted to talk to you know we had our list but then more people started coming out of the woodworks who started listening to the podcast and one of the guys was the editor of Relix magazine and he reached out to us early on and said hey like the podcast love to talk to you about it and I didn't know the history of their connection to Bonnaroo. Yeah. I barely knew that they produced the Bonnaroo Beacon the magazine Relix magazine they do the Bonnaroo Beacon but I didn't know that they've been there since the beginning. Somebody asked did they do the very first one and I didn't know that answer. I knew because he had told me in his email that he'd been there since the second one or that they had done it since he had been there since the second one. So I guess maybe I assumed that that's when the Beacon started. But yeah that was really cool. He reached out about week three or four of us doing this and whatever he could do. Yeah. And so obviously we said we'd love to have you on. Yeah because that's that's that's a perspective that we don't we don't really have. I mean we've got some industry people and we've got some Bonnaroo vet people that we've talked to but I don't know anybody that is sort of almost treats us like breaking news like a news piece. Well you I think you mentioned it a couple of times in our in our discussion with him that he offers an unbiased he's official but not official kind of kind of like us. Yeah I mean he has an insider's view that we don't have to how the festival work and how other festivals work. That was sort of interesting. Well let's talk to Mike Greenhouse from Relix magazine. You going relix or relix. I'm opposite of whatever you're going to relix. We talked to Mike Greenhouse and relix magazine. Awesome. Yeah thanks again for chatting with me. I'm deep in Bonnaroo in my mind right now too. We're working on the program as we speak. What does that entail? What does that mean? Let's tell everybody who you are and what you do because you've got you've got a pretty cool story I think as far as Bonnaroo goes. Yeah awesome. Well my name is Mike Greenhouse. I'm the editor in chief of relix magazine along with Dean Budnick who's the other editor in chief. And Bonnaroo has had a really long rich history with relix. We've been there since the first year in various capacities. I would say our most marquee offering is we produced the Bonnaroo Beacon which is the daily on-site newsletter or sorry newspaper for the festival. We've done it every year since the festival's inception and for about the last 10 years we've actually also produced the official patrons program which was given out when people drove into the festival up until last year and now it is distributed digitally. So yeah we've had a really long history of the fest as well as being fans and friends of the promoters and kind of the whole world. Wait a second now hang on a second when you say the program do you mean the book that we all get? The book? Yes exactly. Wait a second the book's leaving? I love the book. Yeah it started last year unfortunately it's now distributed digitally. Oh no. Yeah. It's 2018 I guess everything is moving online unfortunately or fortunately we are on the podcast right now. The book was sort of like the thing that I brought back is if it was like my that was my token from each possible year. I still have my very first book from 15 years ago. Me too. I know how you feel you know when I was younger I used to go to Disney World with my family a lot and I would always bring back the map. It kind of felt like a nice little reminder of all the things I've done. I was sad that we moved digitally last year but it's all the same content we're still actually printing it as we've done producing as we've done in the past on PDF and now people just be able to print it when they get home or before they leave. There was something I'm sorry to interrupt but the one of the things that I noticed and correct me if I'm wrong but about 12 years ago the program used to have artist bios in it and then somehow along the way those started going away too did they not. Yes. The bios were you know a mainstay in the program for many years and I think you know when you know when the internet just became such a go-to resource for the Bonnaroovian community they moved all the bios onto the website and you know that it's still we still produce original content for the program and have interviews with a bunch of different bands as well as reflections and some other funding games which we're kind of plotting out right now and but unfortunately people will have to now look on their phones or on their computers or as I said you know use that old printer. What I was going to say you mentioned the map that I can always tell how active a Bonnaroov it was for me but how many times that map had been folded and pulled out of my pocket you know. Well I guess this is the official goodbye to the magazine or to the program and I think that there's only one way to say goodbye to something so important to us and that is of course saying goodbye via voice to men. It's so hard to say goodbye so should we use this moment just in quietness and silence to hug and say goodbye to the Bonnaroov program. It was as if we never knew you Bonnaroov program thank you so much for giving us such an amazing run for so long. Mike that brings up an interesting point the internet has been a helpful and kind of hurtful in a lot in some ways for guys like you and me in our business it's made it easier to find information but it's made it harder in some ways for us to be more creative and find something unique. Is that the way you look at it? Yeah definitely absolutely you know you know relics for those listeners you don't know is still a print magazine we come out eight times a year and are distributed nationally. We do have two websites relics.com and jambans.com and both those websites have been around for about 20 years so we you know we've always tried to have a robust web presence but it's a different time you know I think that the pendulum has definitely shift a little bit and these days people are getting their daily news and their daily updates and their festival announcements and sit in reports and all that good jazz online and in a lot of ways you know the magazine is kind of like that classic vinyl record something that you have as a keepsake maybe some more in-depth coverage some historical coverage obviously a great place for large-scale photos and investigative journalism of some sort in the music world and you know we love the magazine and it's still our marquee offering but it's a different world and especially you know since the whole festival scene has started but you know I do think that that's something that makes a festival like Bonnaroo or any kind of camping festival so unique and so amazing. It's because you are in a field where even though cell reception is a lot better than it was back in the day you know you are a little bit remote and it is a chance to kind of unplug and at least wait to post all your photos a little bit although it is followed right around on Instagram on site. People who haven't been let me set the scene again with the Bonnaroo beacon because Bonnaroo becomes literally a city of between 60 and 80 or 90 thousand people for four days it has its own post office you can actually send a postcard with a Bonnaroo city line there. Which is odd because considering we were just talking about technology you could just text. You could just text but it's still cool but the beacon is a broadsheet newspaper that comes out each day so you know not only the only thing missing is they don't deliver a quarter milk at your front door. One day, one day. But it's really cool I've always loved I remember the first time seeing the beacon I thought this is really cool. It's one of those things that makes Bonnaroo really special it's one of those really unique things that I don't know if any other festival does. You know we do do Relics produces the daily newspaper and a few other events. Bonnaroo has been the longest standing we've been doing that as I said since the first year we do it at all officials festivals so we'll be doing it this summer at Curveball. We've done it over the years at some events that the Dave Matthews band has done and we do it every summer at a Lockin Festival which is a festival in Virginia that's actually our publisher Pete Shapiro founded and programs. So we do do it at a couple other events but Bonnaroo is unique in both that this is now the 17th year that we've been doing it and also just because of how all encompassing and diverse the lineup is. You know Lockin has a very purposefully curated focus on kind of jam bands and collaborations and obviously Fish and Dave Matthews events are very single band focused but one of the great things about Bonnaroo is that it does have such an eclectic lineup and there are so many different stages spread out over as you said at the map such a large footprint so I think that there's real value for the newspaper in the sense that you know people aren't able to run and see all the music that they would like to because there are so many stages and you have to kind of have it there you know Lockin has one stage with a rotating kind of stage on top of that so that there's no downtime in music and Fish's events. Again it's one single stage where people could kind of camp out in front of that so you know doing a newspaper at Bonnaroo kind of allows us to be the eyes and ears for you know the places that everyone could get to and we do print locally in Manchester so you know our team stays up till four or five sometimes even six in the morning to get that last late night set in there and get some photos and a recap of the super gems and kind of the other late night offerings and then our marketing team picks it up right early and hopefully it's there by the time people know we're all in a bed at the crack of 11 a.m. Oh boy if you can sleep till 11 a.m. at Bonnaroo. So how many people do you have actually operating that specific newspaper on a weekend? You know the editorial team is you know Dean Budnick who started the newspaper and as I said the other editor at Rolex you know is still our editor in chief and has been doing it for all 17 years. I've actually been to 16 of the 17 Bonnaroo's but I didn't start working on the newspaper till the third year so I've been doing it every year since then. We usually have one or two other editorial members and a few photographers and that's pretty much it you know we try to solicit some advanced content like some previews so we have some freelance writers do that and of course our advertising team you know helps make the paper possible. We have a team of three or four people and then we have you know one or two people for our marketing team distribute it so it's a really small tight group of people and then you know once the papers come on site you know Bonnaroo's volunteers and support staff are great about getting around to the faithful care crowd. That is shocking to me how lean that is. That's shocking how lean that operation is. Yeah well Rolex also has an onsite presence. We have the Rolex booth where you could get the Bonnaroo Beacon as well as subscribe to the magazine and we do have a little bit more robust team down there selling the magazines that we know sometimes we have between 12 and 16 people there but you know between getting the booth together selling magazines hosting some like meet and greets and dealing with friends and sponsors and whatnot you know the actual teamwork in this paper is pretty lean to me. Is that the event that everybody on staff volunteers for around the year? Yeah I think that is definitely one of the most asked to attend events of all the festivals we do as well as you know lock in the fish festival so pretty much the three papers where we do are sorry the three festivals we do our newspapers are always in high demand. You'd be a good one to ask and I'm not trying to stir anything back up because the ship is sailed and personally I've understood it but from your guys point of view how have you seen the Bonnaroo shift the line of shift because you know it started as a jammed back band festival and so many people thought it should always be that so particularly because of your magazine audience and your online audience what is that sort of shift been like for you guys? Well you know I think as you said there's definitely been a shift over the last 17 years and I think in a lot of ways by the festival shifting it's allowed it to continue on and thrive and you know people's music interests change and the demographic of people who want to go and camp for multiple days and have this immersive experience you know their interest changes as that demographic gets older and spreads out but you know I feel that a lot of the core ethos of the festival has remained and I've always felt especially in some of the middle years when you have a band like Radiohead or Metallica or some of the classical rock and hip hop legends who have come through it was almost from my perspective like how would these people do a show when they're placed in front of a really live music loving crowd in kind of a Bonnaroo sorry in kind of a classic jam band setting with their show change with the audience interaction change with their set list change and it's been a really interesting experience kind of watching how that give and take goes. I think one of the reasons that that first Radiohead show in 2006 was considered by them and many others to be one of the greatest American Radiohead shows ever is because they were playing for that passionate you know audience of people who were weaned on jam bands and grew up in that world and you know from people throwing glow sticks to them being allowed to play a little bit longer and look a little bit deeper into their set list I think that's one of the things that made it such a special experience and you know and I think that there's still a lot of that improvisational spirit in the festival's DNA whether it's the super jam or some of the kind of more activity oriented events going on throughout the festival and at the end of the day the fact that people are camped in a field in Tennessee that was you know originally a farm and kind of you know brings it back to that original jam band experience. I love that note of yours that you're taking just artists and putting them in a jam band festival experience and seeing how their show goes. I never thought about it like that but then now that I'm thinking about it it's pretty surprising how well certain artists do in that space. I mean even this year Dua Lipa going from a tent to a main stage they must have really liked that show to bring her back. Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie. How do certain of these certain types of artists fit that kind of mold is very surprising. Yeah and I think Lionel Richie and Kenny are great examples of that because not only did they do their own performances which were you know really awesome and iconic and I'm sure for a lot of music fans especially a lot of younger music fans the first time a lot of people saw them perform live in person but both of those people really embraced the spirit. Lionel Richie made a surprise appearance at the festival when he was in Nashville for an awards ceremony I think the year or two before he did his own set and Kenny sat in with Fish during their festival closing set. So they both really embraced that kind of spontaneous spirit and I think that as the festival has evolved and become more eclectic and more just wider in its interest I think there's been a shift in music listening habits in general. This is the streaming era where people are able to listen to a lot of different types of music and access that really easily and it's a lot easier to be a fan of hip hop and jam band music and punk rock and classic rock and electronic music than it was at the first spot where the festival felt very squarely a jam band and Americana festival. Just much like Coachella at that point felt very much like an Indian punk festival but if you look at it now both those festivals have kind of grown to absorb such a wide swath of music. And at the same time the jam band scene has always been a genre that has a really broad base, there's electronic oriented jam bands, funk oriented jam bands, there's country oriented jam bands, there's indie rock oriented jam bands and I think that it was a lot more palatable for people to be able to embrace the fact that there would be a hip hop band playing after a rock band playing after a folk band than maybe in another setting especially as I said in the early years before having kind of eclectic festivals was more of the norm. That's one of the things that we had Jim Burris with Columbia Records as our guest last week and he pointed that out and I think Ashley Caps did during like the third week of doing this that and we had asked 17 years ago the music scene was way different. You didn't have nearly the streaming, you didn't have the options to locate music but you also had an audience that I don't think was looking for new music quite as much as they do now and I don't think they were looking for live music quite as much then as they do now. Does it feel like to you that Bonnaroo had something to do with that because it sure does to me? Yeah, absolutely. I think that in certain ways it's the chicken and the egg thing. Going back to the very first Bonnaroo and I was there and I remember a couple of my friends who at that point were not into the jam band scene at the Americana scene. I came back and I had the t-shirt but it had all the bands who played that year less in the back and they were looking at it and they were like you don't have to be a jam band fan, you could have gone to Bonnaroo. This is after the first one and they appointed the people like Nora Jones and Jim White and Blind Boys of Alabama and bands who were kind of outside at least at that point was considered a traditional jam band line up and the next year they really started opening the flood gates you had everyone from Sonic Youth to Young Perform as well as a little bit deeper focus on some of the jazz and funk stuff that has always been kind of part of the jam band experience but definitely wasn't kind of a core late 90s, early 2000s jam band scene mainstay. But at the same time I think that when a band, especially early on when a band played Bonnaroo, they definitely almost like a seal of approval for kind of the jam band world. I think Tool was a great example of that after they played and did such a great psychedelic performance. I know a lot of people who came back and started listening to Tool albums and now I feel like they're really part of that ecosystem. At the same time I think that knowing the people who have programmed Bonnaroo from the beginning as well as some people who have programmed it more recently, I think that there was also something in the air of music becoming more open minded in terms of how these different scenes fit together and the jam band scene in general was expanding at that point. There were the first wave of what we call the live tronic of bands, the jam bands who had incorporated a lot of live music. There were some hip hop bands like Jurassic Five and Blockalicious who had kind of come on the scene and you also had even your core jam bands like Fish and Widespread Panic incorporating some covers and some styles that weren't maybe part of the Grateful Dads language whether it was covering Talking Heads or Velvet Underground or inviting some people like Vic Chestnut who weren't part of the jam band world into their shows and onto their stage. When you're being a, you're the first person that we can probably ask this who's completely not partial to one side or the other but can you see a big difference in what Bonnaroo was pre-live nation to post-live nation? I think that I could see a little change in the booking just knowing that there are certain bands that C3 who books the festival now has relationships with and books at their festivals versus some of the bands that maybe some of the other promoters had booked. I do have to say from my perspective and also from talking to people who still run the festival, a lot of the people who have always been part of the booking conversation like Ashley and members of his team as well as some people from the Super 5 family and their staff are still involved in the booking of the festival and making sure that the vibe is continuous. I think that there's also been an evolution since live nation originally purchased it. If I'm correct, I think this is the second year where the booking team has been a little bit different. I think three years ago when live nation owned the festival they had the deading company and LCD sound system and Pearl Jam, three bands with very long histories at the festival as their three headliners. I don't think it was as clear a break as maybe people like to make it out to be but I think that there's been changes in the booking throughout the festival but that's I think really important if you want to keep the festival feeling fresh and also feeling of the moment. A lot of the bands who were at the first Bonnaroo who I was really excited to see and who I'm still really excited to see when they come to come through New York either don't play anymore or they play sporadically or have kind of changed their touring approach and kind of are part of the festival conversation right now. Okay, so the reason I asked that is because this year is the first year and I don't mean this negatively or positively it just is but it's the first year where I can absolutely see a specific or I think a specific live nation decision. It's not bathrooms, it's not pushing the walls in closer because the attendance was bad. The set times, the set times are different. The set times are shorter. The set times are down to an hour for some of the headliners. I don't recall that ever happening before. I don't recall that being in the Bonnaroo spirit and I'm wondering if it is a decision based on business, if it's a live nation call or if it's something that you alluded to earlier. The audiences, the way that they absorb this thing is different these days. Their attention spans are different. They don't need an hour and a half show, two hour show anymore. To be honest with you, I'm not 100% sure whose decision it was to change that and how they went about deciding the set lengths for the headliners down throughout the festival and I'm not sure who would be the best person to speak to about that. It just feels like a live nation move. It feels like the first time and it may not even be a live nation move but it's the first time I feel like something changed. Something changed, the first chance. We just heard today, they added 15 minutes to Eminem which means they took that from Anderson Pack. Is that the theory? It is different. Going back to what you said earlier Mike, it was always sort of as a fan you kind of went expecting some of those legend acts or classic rock acts or whatever to open the engine up so to speak because they had time. So I don't know, we mentioned it a little bit last week about this change and I don't think we know either. It just has struck me ever since somebody pointed it out, it must have been Reddit, it was somebody that listened to the podcast. I can't get it out of my head. I don't know why it's consuming me so much but it is just so strange and I don't know if I'm angry about it, I don't know if I'm happy about it. It's caught me by surprise and I don't really know what to make of it. Mike, I don't know how many of these podcasts you've listened to but this is typical of Brad. He has to find something to obsess over that's a change that he's convinced is a Russian conspiracy. How many times have we been talking about those walls two years ago? Yeah and then he gets over it immediately. I don't even remember. This is before Baru was part of Live Nation but I remember a couple years ago one of the most impactful changes was when they moved to one night having the two headliners. It was Stevie Wonder and Jay-Z almost like co-headliners and that was an interesting change because early on there was almost this energy break between when the main 10 stages kind of wind down and the big headlining shows took place and once they almost had this dual headliner thing it was almost like you had people, I wouldn't say anyone stayed in the campground to miss Stevie Wonder but people kind of just spread their attention throughout the festival a little bit more because those 10 stages weren't done yet and some people were running up to the stage to get close to Stevie Wonder really quickly. That's a great point because and I didn't really think about it in that light but the parade went away. What you're talking about is that early evening right before the headliner people used to go back to camp and shower maybe and catch their breath and get a beer or a nap or whatever and then the big push for the all-nighter and that kind of went away with the earlier headliner didn't it? Yeah and I think this year actually I'm just looking at the schedule now it looks like some of the headliners are even later than usual. I remember I think last year it might have been a little bit later too which is kind of cool that's actually something that they do a lot of European festivals like the headliner will go on at about 11 o'clock instead of 9 o'clock which one because the heat and everything and two where else you have to be right? Yeah exactly see so much music. One of the great things about the about whoever gets the headline boner whether it's you know a band like the Killers or Headlinin' the first time or Wadsworth Panic at the first one is that it's the only time during the entire festival that people from all different backgrounds who came to the festival for all the different music kind of come together and have one shared experience and it is a really cool energy and I was thinking especially when you talk about some of them these rock and roll legends with devoted fan base whether it's a Billy Joel or Bruce Springsteen you know they're playing for probably for the first time in a long time for a fan base who maybe is familiar with their music and some of the hardcore fans who go to their show and it's really interesting to see how they respond to that both musically as I said and as well as with their set list and just with the kind of the whole energy of the experience. As a professional editor of a well received publication how do you absorb this festival 15 years 16 years in? How do you do it? Do you set a playlist? Do you set a graph for yourself? Do you find the artist that you want to find or do you just throw it up against the wall and see what sticks? What is your plan? How do you go about moving around the farm? You know a lot of it has to do with what we're playing the cover and who I wanted to also check out for the magazine but you know still to this day whenever when they announce the lineup and especially when they drop the set times I check it out and see who's playing which days and if there's bands I haven't heard of and as I've gotten a little bit older maybe a little bit out of touch with some of the new electronic music and kind of new rising rock bands you know I sometimes will check some of them out in advance to get a sense of what they sound like and if they want to see their show or talk to friends both in the industry as well as out of the industry and get their recommendations and you know once I get on site I like to bounce around and check out as much music as possible and over the years there's been so many times where I've seen a band for the first time at Bonnaroo and on the flip side if there's a band that we're covering for the magazine who are doing their Bonnaroo show it's really cool to kind of see them during that moment as you know their career is rising you know if you see a band at a smaller club in New York City and you see their big Bonnaroo show playing in front of 10,000 people and then when they move back to New York it's almost like you had a shared experience with them down down in Manchester. How fluid is that decision? Do you guys go into the weekend knowing who your cover is going to be or do you come out of it saying you know A, B or C killed it? The cover for the magazine you mean? Yeah. I mean whoever was on the cover of the magazine doesn't necessarily correlate to who's playing Bonnaroo. Our June issue is always our festival issue and we try to either put somebody who is playing a lot of festivals on the cover or a younger band who we kind of feel like you know captures the spirit of the festival experience that summer so for instance Jack White is on our June cover this year. He's not at Bonnaroo but he's at a lot of other great festivals this summer like Governor's Ball here in New York. But in years past we've had by the way Jack on the cover when they played Bonnaroo, we've had Dawes on the cover when they played Bonnaroo, we've had Real Estate on the cover when they played Bonnaroo and we've had a bunch of other bands who you know I feel like kind of captured that entire festival vibe, that mixture of a high energy live show and kind of a passionate fan base on the cover even if they weren't playing Bonnaroo that specific year. I'll go to the same question for the magazine or for the Bonnaroo Beacon. I was going to ask the same thing. Yeah just take the same theory. Is that how you work it for the Beacon or can you be swayed in one direction or the other based on the events of the night? You know we always try to have at least one shot of the headliner on the cover. In the past there's definitely been times where maybe a performer seemed like something of the underdog going in and we're like wow these guys are great or they clearly were the breakout band of the day and we put them on the cover of the Beacon the next morning. I think two great examples of that are when Mumford and Sons and Phoenix both played the Witch stage and kind of drew those capacity crowds that almost felt like headliner performances even though it was the second stage. It was the biggest crowd I've ever seen at that stage. I've never seen a bigger crowd at that Witch stage that day. Yeah I think that when they had Phoenix the year before I never saw a bigger crowd and then the next year when they had Mumford and Sons they managed to top that. And didn't you, am I wrong or misremembering that Courtney Burnett you guys did that Thursday show wasn't that one of those where sort of the buzz around her caused you to reach out or had you already planned that or am I completely misremembering that? Yeah well I think the Thursday night at Bonnaroo has always been a great night of surprises and again for people who haven't been to the festival the two main stages are dark that night so people are able to kind of run around and check out some of the smaller bands in the tents instead of finding their spot in these big fields. And every year I feel like there's been a breakout band dating back to the early years when I think I saw Ray LaMontagne for the first time there and I saw Steel Train which featured Jack Antonoff who became a member of FUN and leader of Bleachers and a great producer maybe for the second time on that Thursday. And in recent years I feel like there's always been one act who maybe we've gone in with our antennas up and then come out being super fans and Courtney was definitely one of them going back a few years before that. I think Alt J did a Thursday night spot that really left an impression. The Thursday lineup if you just compiled what they've done on Thursday into one lineup oh my god. I mean it is just such a wonderful, what are the things they grow little hatchery, they grow the eggs in? The incubator. It is an amazing incubator for the industry whether it's the Shakes, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Courtney Barnett, Moon Taxi, Alt J. Thursday is so phenomenal for that reason. It's my favorite day of the entire festival. Definitely and I think the ultimate example of that was in 2008 on Thursday when you had MGMT and Vampire Weekend and I think battles all in a row in one of those tents. Pretty good. And that was like the first time too where members of both Vampire Weekend and MGMT were at the first Bonnaroo and they came back at that point I guess six years later as these kind of buzz bands and it almost was like cemented Thursday of the night where you better get there early because that's tomorrow's headliner and those bands even playing in the same bill just feels crazy now and the fact that they were playing within an hour of each other is insane. Well who's your Thursday pick then? Who do you think it's going to be? Either I look at the schedule here. I'm putting my money on pigeons playing ping pong? I love pigeons playing ping pong. We actually have a big feature of them in the magazine. Spaffords in the jam band scene too. Those bands kind of feel like the next vanguard of kind of the classic jam band festival bands. But yeah I think that pigeon set from 1 to 2.30 that's a great time to make some fans. Don't sleep on floor either. It's a little poppy but floor is very nice. I thought you were going to say a little punny. I think this is great. I think unintentionally maybe we summed Bonnaroo up by the whole Thursday thing. Everybody's in a great mood. The attitude is great. You're still fresh. For the most part there's bands there that you maybe haven't heard of so you're experimenting and you walk away with a favorite new band kind of thing and that to me is... It started my love affair with Alabama Shakespeare. Because I saw them at Bonnaroo I saw them 15 more times in one year. I got obsessed because of that show at Bonnaroo. That Thursday night show they did is one of the most iconic Bonnaroo sets in my mind of all time. The way that they kind of came in there and had this energy that felt very Bonnaroo and a mix of all these styles that felt very Bonnaroo and just walked away with so many new fans. I had been lucky enough to see Brittany and the band in New York maybe a year beforehand or almost a year beforehand and just to come and see them play for so many people was amazing. It's the last time I remember hearing a band on say like a social media site or a Spotify not knowing anything about them and then being introduced to them in that space and that's the first time I'm being introduced to them live. Oh my god how unassuming she was. How it looked like they came off the street and it just blew everybody away. And I'm glad that you think of it as highly as I do because I can go right back to that feeling that I had the moment that I set eyes on her for the first time. I didn't know what I was expecting but I sure as hell wasn't expecting that. Yeah it's just an amazing show and you fell from that moment there that they're now a Bonnaroo band and they will be at the festival for a long time and they have and they've returned as higher on the bill. They've been part of super jams and other special events and I've seen members of the band come just wandering around the festival as fans that they haven't even played. You mentioned it before that you can feel it right. There is a different feeling with a song. We will hear one on the radio and think I can imagine that at one in the afternoon off the that tent or I can picture this at one in the morning. It just has a different feel to it at least for me. Yeah and that's why we love it so much. That's why we love Bonnaroo so much. So if you were to rattle off the bands that you are absolutely on your must list who are you going to see? Let me put this. Let's get Mike's here. We're going to do Barry and Brad's picks here in a couple weeks. Let's get Mike's picks. You're a professional at this. You're much more qualified than we are. You know I feel like this year there's a couple different groups of bands that I'm really excited for. There's what I would call the Bonnaroo Hometown Heroes coming back as now kind of these big marquee bands and I would say Revivalist and Moon Taxi definitely top that list of bands who have been at the festival for a while and kind of capture that ethos. You know Slymonesso I'm a huge fan of I think that they're great and capture such a great element of the festival and just second-hand music in general. For some of the more indie rock side you know again the broken social scene is always someone who I love seeing and really seem to be coming back through the ranks. You know St. Paul and the Broken Bones again you know they're a classic Bonnaroo band of someone who went from being a fan to you know volunteering at the festival to now being pretty high up there on the marquee. I'm personally excited to see the Grand Ole Opry stage and see how that plays out. That seems really like a really cool unique way to kind of have that jam band Bonnaroo spirit but yet something completely different and at the same time you know see a band like Old Crow who were at the first Bonnaroo come back. It's great. They were at the first Bonnaroo I didn't know that. Yeah they were at the first one. I believe they might be the only band in the lineup who played the first Bonnaroo and are playing this year in the same form. I think there's probably members of various bands who have heard at this year's lineup with different projects but I believe they might be the only one who was there year one and year this year. A little bit in the smaller font on the seeing eye chart of I love Pond which are part of the Cayman-Palau family. They're great. Southern Avenue is a really great soul band from Memphis who actually just played New York last week who are really awesome. The Texas Gentleman kind of remind me of the band in that they both back other bands as well as have their own material and I think are going to walk away with a really strong following. Bruno Major is really great. I had the opportunity to see him last year. Going through here there's just like the legends like Mavis Staples and I'm going to do a Miriam just like for both of them. We touched on this a little bit before but some of the Thursday bands again that's a great time to check out a band like Friendship who I've never seen or get a little bit deeper into the Pidgey playing ping pong in Spafford and kind of see what they bring to this big stage. I don't want to give away my pick but I'm going to say this as many times as I can. Japanese Breakfast, Japanese Breakfast, Japanese Breakfast, Japanese Breakfast. I love her so much. I cannot wait to see that show and whatever it is that spacey album of hers I cannot wait to see that live. We ain't in New York. We don't get them coming through very often. Yeah so I mean that's so much music to jump into and probably if we talk on the Monday after the festival I've seen like another five bands who we didn't even mention now. I guess the way that I think about you is you're removed from the product but if you didn't really love the product you wouldn't be doing it on a yearly basis right? Absolutely. I mean Bonnaroo is like Thanksgiving. It's every year. It's on that calendar and it's something that I look forward to throughout the year. It's very busy obviously with the newspaper and the program leading into it and just having such a big team down there but it's always a really special experience. There's a lot of friends and industry contacts that I pretty much only get to see in person that weekend so that's always really special. I have some friends from college who I always run into at the festival and it's really nice to be able to reconnect with them and see new music and kind of see how our tastes have changed and expanded and in a lot of ways stayed the same. And it's just a great weekend and it's also been great to see how the festival has grown. I think there's very few things in life where I could say I've done it pretty much every single year for 17 years and kind of what I was listening to, where I was in my life and then coming back to the same place with the same, largely the same infrastructure of the stages and the tents and the fountain and all that jazz and kind of assess where things are for myself and for the music scene that we love so much. That is a great point. I have committed more of my, I've committed more years to Bonnaroo than I have anything else in my life. Yeah. I mean anything else important to me, not even close to meet the amount of time that I have dedicated to this festival. That is insane now to think about it. I'm going to guess Hillary would like to beg to differ. She's number two. I've been to more Bonnaroo's than I've been with the wife. Okay, well I can't do that with children but yeah, I'm the same and it's been fascinating for me to watch literally the music world change and that four days is a big part of it. I also wanted to say Mike, because you and I are in the same sort of business, the newspaper and the magazine, people don't understand it's a lot of work, isn't it? I mean we're up there, there's nowhere else I would rather be but it's work from... Guys, you don't, I mean you see me work and I work very hard. Notice I didn't mention his name, I didn't bring him into this. Very hard doing this radio thing, guys. It's a lot of work and then a lot of fun but even the work is fun. Man, thank you so much. Let's grab a show together when we get to Bonnaroo. I'd love to be there. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'll be there. We'll look you up. You're going to be in the media area most of the time, right? Yeah, I'll be in the media area and running around and seeing music. Where do you camp? We actually stay at one of the hotels because we're in the newspaper. Well come on back to camp. Over the years I have camped many times. I've done it often from a tent next to a car to an RV to a tour bus to the hotel. I've done the whole thing. We're back to guest camping so come on back to Camp Nut Butter. Absolutely. Come back and get a Bloody Mary. Yeah, all right. Sounds great. That sounds awesome. Thanks so much, Mike. We appreciate it. Thank you so much. The What Podcast with Barry Courter and Brad Steiner. That's Barry, I'm Brad. That was Mike from Relix Magazine and we've asked for his picks, we've gotten our campsite picks. Now we want your picks. We want to hear what you are going to be seeing at Bonnaroo because in the coming weeks as we get closer we only have like three weeks left, three more podcasts to go. We're going to do Barry's picks here in a few weeks. We'll do my picks. But we want to get your picks, the bands that we must see that you are suggesting to us and we want you to send them in to us at the whatpodcast.com. Yeah, are we more interested in the obvious ones or the surprise ones or just whatever they want to, just whatever they think? Well, here's the way that I'm going to give you mine. I'm going to say here's what I'm going to go to. Here are the ones that you cannot miss. If I'm suggesting something to my campsite, these are the ones that I want our camp as a group to go to. See, I don't really care if you go with me to insert, you know, Muse. I don't care. But there are some artists that I absolutely want my camp to engage with. So that's sort of the way that I go about it. You can do whatever you want. I just want to hear some of your picks so we can compile them and have our very final podcast right before Bonnaroo be the what podcast listener picks. I'll do it the same way. I'll do the ones. These are the ones that I'm going to and then I'll do the music snob ones. These are the ones that I if I turn you on to this person, it will have been a good weekend. Oh, there you go. That's exactly right. So the whatpodcast.com send us your list of bands that will feature on the podcast. We will pick and choose some of your suggestions, bands that we should see that can't not be missed at Bonnaroo 2018, the whatpodcast.com or you can do the what underscore podcast on Twitter. I guess next week will be my picks. Yours next week and then mine and then we'll hopefully get some input from from our listeners who we say it every week. But thank you guys so much. Yeah, thank you very much. The emails and the notes and the watching the numbers climb has been really very cool. I wonder if you could based on now doing this with 10 weeks, if Barry, you could figure out my list. I wonder if you could go ahead and pick what do you think I'm going to be choosing for next week? See, that's one of those tricks, because if I say yes, you're going to throw curves just just to be, you know. Yeah, I could probably get close. I can't wait to see Walden. I can't I can't wait. I know. Yeah, I think you can do it. After all this, I think you know exactly where I'm going. What was it? What's the term that Mike used? Small font bands? Yes, right. Those guys. I wanted to add, we've talked about Bonnaroo being more than just the live music. I had a chance to talk to David Conover. It's been a while ago. There are so many things from the green efforts that they do, the money that goes into Manchester. A lot of you guys aren't, you know, you don't live around here, so you don't follow it as closely as maybe we do. But Bonnaroo pumps a ton of money into Manchester, a ton of money into the state. They have all kinds of initiatives. If you're coming for the first time, spend some time in Centaroo to see what all is there. One of those is Grundy County Food Bank, David Conover and his family. They started a program or they actually picked up a program. They go around at the end of each day and get the extra food. No kidding. From the vendors. Really? And then they give that to the poor in Grundy County, which is literally, I think, the poorest county in the country. Yeah, they're everywhere. And boy, if you came at me, if I was, bring me some Cray Musties. Yes. That's my kind of guy. That's a really amazing thing for him to do. What a saint. Yeah, there's a ton of that. And you talk to him. Yeah, I talk to him because, you know, they're relatively close and he actually his wife and I went to high school together, of all things. Oh my goodness. Totally unrelated. You guys dated? No, no, she's a little older. Well, that's your type. But it's really cool. And he gives us a brief little, you know, a description of what it is they do. But it's really, really cool that this food, instead of being thrown away, which it would goes to feed needy people for a long time. I never knew that. Let's listen to that. So my name is David Conover. I live in Chattanooga, but about six or seven years ago, 2011, 2012, my parents, my mom and my stepdad live in Montego, Tennessee, and they were directors of the Grundy County Food Bank. And they started a program, a lady from that was in touch with Bonnaroo, reached out to them to start a program where they took all the unused food, donated food, drinks, vegetables, meat, products, anything that could be not perishable, they could use to donate to the food bank. So in 2011, they started out working directly with the caterer, Wildhair Catering. Jim Woods is the director of that. And he donated approximately 6,000 pounds of food to the program. And since that time, we've kind of reached out to vendors, caterers, the food services. And each year we've grown from 6,000 to this year, almost 50,000 pounds. All the food goes to programs for the Grundy County is one of the poorest counties in the nation. I mean, yeah, in the nation, in Tennessee, especially. The food goes to the programs in Grundy County for the jail, the senior homes, the mental institute there. And so anyway, and then they have families that come and get packs of food, I guess maybe on a weekly or monthly basis. They make little care packages for just tons of families that in need and they'll come and pick them up. So we drive, we promote it on Monday to all the vendors with a big meeting. We promote it during the week, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, pass out brochures and get the word out. They have all our contact information. And on Monday, when they're closing down, we make our round trips and we have phone ready and email and everything and text and just spend all day picking up food and take it to the food bank. And this was food that would otherwise just be thrown away, right? Right, exactly. So yes, a lot of stuff they maybe could take to another show, but a lot of it they just have to dunk. We will see you next week on the what podcast with my picks.