Brad, Barry, and Lord Taco of The What Podcast have long-known that Bonnaroo can change lives for the better - and they're not alone. For many, the festival is about much more than big-name headliners and Spicy Pie. Case in point, Roo Bus' new nonprofit venture TOTEM.
This week, the program's Daniel and Sharla Horton drop in to talk about the new initiative, the organization's goals, and how they seek to bring people together. Through radiating positivity year-round, the two cultivate a strong community, life-long relationships, and the best vibes known to man. Find out more about TOTEM here.
Listen to this episode of The What Podcast or watch it via YouTube. While you're at it, go ahead 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.
This month, we're on a mission to spread the word about all the great shows on the Consequence Podcast Network, and you're our secret weapon. As a thank you for showing your support, we're giving away bundles of exclusive Consequence merch. To enter, submit your info here, along with a screenshot of your review. We'll be shouting out our winners in December, so please keep listening. Thank you for all your support and for listening to the Consequence Podcast Network!
We're back with another episode of The What Podcast.
We have a couple of special guests, Daniel and Sharla are going to join us today to talk
This is a new foundation that they have started.
You guys will know them from the real RooBus, right?
And yeah, the Tales from the RooBus podcast, they do that every week.
Probably a lot of you listening to them too.
So you've probably heard of Totem, but maybe haven't quite checked it out yet.
Well, here's your chance.
We get to talk to them and find out what they've got planned and what's in store.
And it's pretty neat.
I must say, Barry.
It is pretty neat.
They are like us.
I didn't know you several years ago.
You didn't know me.
I didn't know them, but now we're friends.
And it's all because of this festival that's an hour and a half or an hour from us, but
it has developed into this crazy thing.
And I kind of, I kind of reference it.
They bought a bus.
They bought a bus because it bought a, yeah, that's opposite.
You know, mine, you know, I had the bus, I bought the bus first and then Bonnaroo came
They went to Bonnaroo and then turn around and bought a bus and then bought a bus.
I mean, I, you know, I don't want to go too far down the history of all that.
But my point is that's the impact that this festival has had on a lot of lives.
Not only are we now friends, but they bought a bus and now they have a foundation where
they're going to give away a scholarship to a couple of people so that they can go hopefully
to Bonnaroo and fall in love with it just like you and I have and take the radiate positivity
attitude back home with them and spread it 365 days a year, just like you and I do.
And it's all about taking this experience that we've had and just spreading it around
and letting more people enjoy it and experience it too.
Yeah, it's a big deal.
We love this festival and they do, obviously, and you'll hear that.
But this is a new thing.
They, you know, if you've been, you know who they are.
They've had big parties during the week and they've decided to take their energies and
direct them somewhere else.
So, and I respect that for them.
And Barry, you're on the board for this too.
I'm on the board.
I am on the board.
I've been involved since the beginning and Daniel has big plans and I'm thrilled.
And this is the beginning and we're going to see where it goes.
So let's talk to Daniel and Sharla and we'll see where this goes.
But once again, Russ, who knew, right?
I mean, this thing just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
And if you're wondering where Brad is, Brad is, he'll be back next week.
We just wanted to have Daniel and Sharla on and the timing worked out so that we got them
when we got them.
So Brad will be back.
It's, you know, he'll be back.
So we got some other guests lined up in the next few weeks too.
Oh, I'm so excited.
You know who I'm talking about.
I'm so excited.
I've had like two or three people on my list and we got him finally.
I'm so excited.
We'll be back.
We're talking about Bonnaroo.
Bonnaroo means so many things to so many people.
My man Russ over here has a bus.
He's had a bus for a long time, but I'm not the only one with a bus.
No, the folks that are with us bought a bus because of Bonnaroo.
That's the kind of thing that people don't understand.
They hear Bonnaroo and they think camping, they think outdoor, they think sweaty, whatever.
But you guys bought a bus because of Bonnaroo.
And that's just one of the things that, you know, kind of interesting about this festival.
But the, you know, there's many other buses.
There's a serial bus.
I didn't see them the last year or so, but there's a bus that has like Captain Crunch
and all kinds of funny things painted on the side of it.
And their thing is they literally hand out those miniature boxes of cereal to people
that walk by.
That's one of many.
There's many others.
I've never heard of that.
That sounds fun.
There's one that has a stage that folds out.
We've met them a number of times.
A couple of years ago, they had a small electrical fire break out on the way in.
That was a different one.
That was one from last year or a couple of years ago that rolled in and had a stud.
It caught on fire at the entrance.
And that one looks very similar to further.
And if you don't know your history, that was the one from the electric Kool-Aid test and
the Grateful Dead used to hang out with.
It has a little porthole on the top.
So there's a spiral staircase that goes to the top where you can look out.
That was really cool.
So many buses, not just ours, not just Russ's.
So the reason I brought that up is Bonnaroo means so many things to so many different
It's not just about the music.
The music is huge and it's important.
But what we have learned is that it's about the connections that we have with people,
the connections that we make with people, and the fact that it is a 365-day thing for
Bonnaroo is year-round, baby.
It means so much to so many of us and you guys are a good example of that.
And so you have evolved as we all have.
I mean, Russ, you can attest.
This podcast was a stupid idea six years ago that was supposed to last three months and
here we are six years later.
We couldn't have predicted that.
No, absolutely not.
And we've met so many people, Daniel and Sharla, among them, who have their own podcast, the
If you haven't listened, go listen to it.
But you guys have a new thing.
You've evolved again.
And that's what we're here to talk about.
And I'm excited about it.
I'm part of it.
You've asked me to be a part of it, be on your board, and you've got a new name, Totem.
Sharla, you want to explain where the name came from?
Well, one of our board members actually came up with it, Totem, the opportunity to experience
So when you look around at Bonnaroo or really any festival, you see Totems everywhere and
Totems kind of pull you in.
It kind of helps you find your friends, things of that nature.
So it's a beacon you can follow.
A beacon you can follow.
So he just kind of came up with Totem.
And another one of our board members, Evan, kind of came up with the opportunity to experience
music as an acronym for that, which kind of worked collectively.
Totem Foundation is the official name.
I stole an idea from my workplace and we reversed engineered the acronym.
So we're going to talk about that real quick.
This is an opportunity because again, you guys and Russ and I, I mean, Bonnaroo means
a lot to us.
It has literally changed our lives.
I have no problem telling anybody that.
It's created a vision, a way for people to act, right?
Radiate positivity all the time, right?
Just treat people the way you want to be treated and the way you should be treated.
You can follow that code year round, not just when you're in Bonnaroo.
That was the thing that sort of stuck with us.
It's something that I feel like is needed a lot in recent years, like not to go into
specifics, but there's been a lot happened over the past five years that makes it easy
to be cynical, to look at things from a glass half full perspective.
And I feel like the attitude that we really dive deep in for one week these days out of
the year, it's something that we can pull out to the other 51 weeks.
And sometimes it can be tough, but keeping in touch with the community makes it a lot
easier I feel like.
I know when I left the first one in 2002 even, and then again, 2007 when I started going
back was like, why can't people act like this all the time?
And that's been sort of my question.
And you guys embraced that.
You started what?
We were talking about the McCartney show.
That was the year that we ran out of excuses not to go.
And so that's the thing.
Treat people the way you would want to be treated yourself.
And so we'll go into the whole, you guys can listen to their shows, you can listen to our
shows, but you guys have created this foundation.
And that's what I want to talk about today.
So tell everybody what exactly this foundation is and what is the goal.
Well Charlotte and I have been dreaming this up for the better part of two or three years
Like I'll be honest, we knew that we couldn't continue to host the party out of this bus
We're pushing 40 now.
So we felt that it was time for the next generation to take the reins and start planning parties
and decide the direction of the community.
So with Totem, we have three main goals.
First of them is we have a mentorship program.
So we want to pair up veterans of Bonnaroo with people that are coming their first time
so they can help them out in terms of like, what do I need to bring to camp?
What are some do's and don'ts?
You guys talk about this on the show, but we want to get people together individually.
Anything else on that Charlotte?
No, it's just matching people with the rookies and the veterans essentially.
So we've got to form up for that.
The second one is a scholarship program.
So we're going to give out two this year in cooperation with Bonnaroo who have been very
generous with us.
We're going to have two people come to Bonnaroo who have never been, who are probably going
to be in some kind of disadvantaged situation, either geographically or financially or whatever.
But it isn't necessarily just a free ride.
We want them to contribute something to the community.
Maybe it's a new event that nobody has thought of and Barry, as a board member, you had this
Maybe they want to get into live music events as a career.
So if that's something they want to do, we can work with Bonnaroo or whoever and have
them job shadow.
So again, we're going to have two of those this coming year and a long-term goal that
we're going to start probably in 25 or 26 is we want to start doing an international
So I don't know about you guys, but I love it when Bonnaroo hosts different world music
I'm still hurting that we didn't have MDU Moctar that one year.
I hope they bring them back at some point.
They were awesome.
But I want to have more things like that.
So my goal is to hopefully in 25 or 26, bring in a musical group from Haiti.
There's a long story behind that.
I can tell you one of these days, but they have a great history of music there.
Their traditional music is just a party.
So I would love to bring in a group to not only play music for everybody, but also be
an exchange of ideas.
They tell us about what's going on in Haiti.
We can give them a little bit of Bonnaroo to bring back.
It'll be a bit of a back and forth.
We're a few years away on that one.
So we'll wait.
So after we get past these first two goals first, let's talk another time about that.
Yeah, it's a long-term thing.
And what I'm hearing and what I want to stress to people again is that Bonnaroo, it's not
about coming and seeing your favorite band.
It is, right?
I mean, that's usually the hook.
And then Charlie, you've talked about this a bunch.
That's the community, right?
I mean, the four of us didn't know each other, what, eight years ago, 10 years ago, whatever.
And now we do.
I didn't know Russ seven years ago.
We all would have gotten to know Russ one way or another.
I mean, absolutely.
To me, it's more the community than it is the music.
I mean, I've said it before.
It doesn't matter who's playing to me.
I would still go to Bonnaroo.
And that is what I'm trying to get the next generation or what I want to pass along to
the next generation is that community experience.
And like you said, we didn't know each other.
And now I have, what, a 500-day Snap Street with Russ over here.
It's getting to know your friends and just meeting friends from literally all over the
world and keeping in touch with them year round.
So that's amazing to me.
And you don't get that experience in other places and especially, you know, Daniel and
I coming from a small town, rural area, you know, and just being able to go to a festival
that's literally, you know, up the road in Tennessee and, you know, getting that experience.
I want to pass that along to the next generation.
So that's why we started Totem.
And that's why we want to do the scholarship program.
And, you know, you mentioned something that I think was a big pull for us in putting this
When Charlotte and I were pretty much one of the target ages to go to Bonnarooy these
days, like when we were like 19, 20, 21, going to Bonnarooy was just out of the question for
us because we were in a really disadvantaged area, middle of nowhere, Franklin County,
You know, the money wasn't there.
There was just no way for us to make it happen.
So now we want to ensure that at least for two people this year, we can change that as
long as, like I said before, they have something to bring to the table.
Again, it's not a free ride.
We know that there's awesome ideas that we haven't considered that people in those areas
in the middle of nowhere, like we were, can bring to the table and, you know, crank start
this next generation.
That's, to me, that's maybe part of why I wanted to have you guys on and part of why
we keep doing this show every week.
It's not just about going and watching the music.
There are so many things that have evolved.
I mean, you guys did your, your Wednesday shows, your Thursday shows, you've had the
beer exchange guys.
There are so many, what do we call them?
Events that are not related or are related to the, to the festival, but they're not like
on the schedule.
And that's what I don't think people quite can grasp.
You know what I mean?
I get it.
But it's Coachella.
You don't really see this kind of thing at Coachella.
I mentioned many of them and it would, we would miss somebody if we started to listen
all of them, but everything from the parachute people doing the Rue shoot, right.
Red Rue, when the beer exchange did so many others, there's big hooks at Bonnaroo that
the community is putting on themselves.
And other than Burning Man, there isn't really anywhere else that's doing that to this extent.
And that, and I think that's what you guys are, are this, the, the folks who get this
scholarship, that's what they're going to see.
The first timers, they're, they're, you know, I'm going to guess they're coming because
so and so is on the lineup and that's their favorite band or maybe not.
But what they're going to see is this community thing that, that we're so much enamored with.
I mean, that, that's the, that's what's so special about this.
And you know, you mentioned things, you know, not necessarily being on the lineup, you know,
Bonnaroo has gotten significantly better about putting the community events on the lineup
in the past couple of years.
And it's been amazing for us.
They've been incredible.
Amazing for us and for the community aspect of Bonnaroo.
And we truly, truly, truly appreciate that.
And you know, we've had more and more and more people come out to the community events
with us, with Reddaroo, you know, with the other groups, Loophole and so forth.
And it's just been wonderful for the community aspect.
And like Daniel said, you just, you just don't really see that a lot at other festivals.
Well, that we know of, you know, except for really except for Burning Man, which is not
technically a festival, but you just don't see it a lot at other music festivals.
I mean, there's a little bit at a place like Electric Forest or maybe, maybe Huluene to
an extent, but not nearly to the level that we see it.
No, not that we see at Bonnaroo.
So here it is.
Let's do, let's do the elevator, give the elevator pitch.
If you can explain what it is, totem and how people can get involved.
And if you can do it all, I won't time you.
I mean, elevator is supposed to be 45 seconds, but whatever.
Describe what it is that this thing is and, and who should apply and how do they apply
and what's going to happen?
Well here it is.
Let's say that I got on an elevator with a very kind individual.
Like I don't know, let's say Jason Isbell.
He's a hometown boy.
Here's the pitch.
So totem stands for the opportunity to experience music.
It has three goals, a mentorship program, a scholarship program, and eventually an international
And if you're new, you want to be mentored or if you're a veteran and you want to be
a mentor, you can find the application for that at totemfnd.org.
And also if you want to come to your first Bonnaroo and they're in a tough situation,
what to contribute something to the community, there's an application for the scholarship
as well at totemfnd.org.
And eventually in a few years we'll bring in a international music group to do an international
We'll wait a few years on that, but that's pretty much it.
That's what we're doing with Totem, Roger.
So the hope, not to put words, somebody, some young person, right, sees this, never is thinking
there's no way I can go.
I can't afford and they come out and they fall in love with it just like you and I did,
And then they want to come back.
What I would tell them is it's a scholarship.
They got to put it into work.
They got to come to us with something that they want to do or something they want to
do to improve themselves.
And their ticket will be covered, their camping will be covered, and we will have a per diem
for them as well for food and camping supplies and things like that.
We want to take care of them in exchange for bringing something new to the table for our
So bring a good attitude.
We'll give you a spicy pie.
Bringing a good attitude is one of the top things because if you hadn't been there, get
ready for it to be hot possibly.
Maybe a pizza nova.
It's been kind to us, yeah.
To me, it's just so amazing.
Again, you know, we were not friends.
We didn't know each other not that long ago, and this thing is so amazing, this festival,
Barry, I want from not knowing you to get messed up with you in a tent at three o'clock
in the morning in the middle of nowhere Tennessee.
And not knowing taco to him being passed out on my couch a couple of times.
That thing that Mitchell did still resonates.
That was unbelievable.
We'll just leave it there.
I thought I was going to die.
Hanging out with him.
That checks out.
He's the best.
All right, Ross, what you got?
Just glad to have you on and talk about this.
It's a wonderful idea, and I can't think of anything like this out there, you know, comparable.
And like I said, there's not even any other festivals that have this type of community
aspect at all.
So congratulations and thanks for coming on and talking about us and sharing.
Well, thanks for having us.
And we didn't mention this, but as of three or four weeks ago, we're now officially blessed
by the government.
Barry, you knew that.
No, it's legit.
It's I'm excited about it.
Think about that.
So 2013, you went you went to this festival and now look, right?
Well, we were ready to kind of turn the page to the next chapter to like we've had our
fun putting on the party.
It's time for somebody else to, um, we're going to kind of be more in the background
We're not really going to worry too much about robust stuff at all.
We're going to just basically be promoting totem, but we will have the bus there in the
next year or two.
We just want to be having a big party like we have.
We're just going to have a couple of signs or maybe a 10 out so people can learn more
about how they can support what we're trying to do.
Let me, well, let me ask you this.
Uh, so if people want to help and maybe they don't necessarily want to get involved in
being a mentor or anything, but, uh, is, are you taking donations?
Is there a way to just, you know, contribute or just support in any way?
So if you go to totemfnd.org, there's some more information on that.
Um, but also another way that people can contribute is just help us brainstorm stuff.
So we have a discord server set up, uh, where there is a channel, uh, it's just called nonprofit
where we just throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks and we get feedback and ideas
from others in the community as well.
So that's another way that you can come on board and help us out with anything as well.
And honestly, the best way that people can help us this year is just spreading the scholarship
application out there and just getting the word out there about that scholarship application
and just getting more and more people to fill that out.
This is really our building year and our networking gear.
So just spreading that out there as much as possible.
And I, that's something that people can help us out with too, is like when you go to dinners
with the family or whatever, tell others about the scholarship, because that's going to be
one of the trickiest things is getting the message out to people that are thinking about
coming to their first one, that this exists because we can talk to the boundary community
easily, but we can't talk to them very easily.
So we need a lot of help networking.
I'm glad you brought that up, Ross and, and, and Charlotte too.
That's one of the things, I mean, to be specific that is so special about this is if you have
an idea, throw it out there, right?
I mean, whether it's yours or ours or whoever, they, they seem to be receptive.
If it's a good idea, let's do it.
Hey, bad ideas are good ideas at Boneree too.
I've had some of these.
Yeah, we've, for sure.
I've been around some of your bad ideas, Ross.
But no kidding.
You know, if you have an idea, throw it out there and it might stick.
So, all right.
Well, thank you guys so much.
And I think this is great and I can't wait to see who can't wait to meet the recipients.
We're excited about this.
Like Charles had mentioned, this is a building year.
We want to make sure that this works, but we're excited to make this grow in years to
There you go.
Isn't that cool?
Somebody gets to go to Boneree.
And, you know, probably when you're hearing that, Barry, you probably can think of somebody.
I can think of somebody.
Most everybody could think of somebody, maybe young that hasn't experienced Boneree or any
type of live music, maybe comes from a disadvantaged situation.
And, you know, you think, man, they would really thrive at a festival and they have
a lot of energy and ideas.
And, you know, so there's, it's interesting that, you know, when you think about how many
people this could affect and could potentially be life-changing.
Well, that's exactly right.
I mean, you and I are perfect examples.
I mean, I don't hesitate in saying it changed my life.
I mean, there's no question about it.
Oh, me too.
I remember sitting there thinking, why can't life be like this all the time?
And I've tried to bring that attitude home.
And I really, you know, somebody says, how are you doing?
It's just that easy, you know?
And so, yeah.
And this is for that person who, you know, maybe is thinking, how can I go without, by
myself or whatever?
Or what do I need to bring?
I don't know anybody to ask, you know.
These are the, this is the way.
This is the way.
Apply for this and the, this foundation will take care of you.
So I'm excited to see where it goes.
And also, you know, I mentioned this, we are doing a little promotion with Consequence right
now where if you can hop on over to Apple podcasts or Spotify, leave a little review
for the Watt podcast.
They have a link where you can submit, take a screenshot, send it in and you can get some
That's exactly right.
A lot of stuff happening.
So Russ, always great to see you.
See you next week.
Consequence Podcast Network.