We kick off Virtual ROO-ALITY weekend with Jeff Cuellar, VP of Strategic Partnerships at AC Entertainment. Jeff talks in length about the shift Bonnaroo had to make to a virtual festival, and what challenges they face as they prepare for 2021. Also: we press Jeff about two beloved icons that could return to The Farm next year.
Topics: Bonnaroo, AC Entertainment
Guest: Jeff Cuellar
Hey, hey, hey, hey! How y'all feeling? 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. A podcast for Bonnaroovians by Bonnaroovians. Welcome to the What Podcast? I'm Brad, that's Barry, Lord Taco along for the ride. You're not in the bus this time, Barry. You've got your own set up. No, I thought we'd go back to the bus. It's Bonnaroo week. It is. It's happening. Haven't you heard? It was something that we talked about for a long time. Why weren't they doing a certain thing? Why weren't they doing virtual stuff? Why weren't they pushing content out? Well, you know, they finally did it and they did it really quickly. It seems like it came out of nowhere and it's happening this weekend. Starting Thursday, the 24th, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, they're going to have some classic old shows. Beastie Boys, Killer, I can't wait to see that. James Brown, I can't wait to see. Yeah, so yeah, they have to use it. It kind of came out of nowhere. But in honor of that, we wanted to talk to our old friend, Jeff Cuellard from AC Entertainment and the Bonnaroo festival. But you know, there's a lot more stuff to talk to him about and hopefully he answers a few things because we've got a lot of questions. What in the world is happening in the world? And I think Jeff Cuellard is as good as it gets to try and answer some of it, especially from what's going on inside the building. Absolutely. And you and I have both hinted and talked and whatever about for the last six months that we talked to people sort of on the, you know, QT, the side, nobody official. So this is really the first guest I think that we've had on the show that can directly speak to what has happened over the last six months. And I have to say, I don't know that there were any surprises. I think he just confirmed everything that you and I have been saying and thinking and and talked about, which is that it's a very complicated time and there are a lot of moving parts. And he's, you know, we've said it before. I've said it before. That first time he was on with us was a huge eye opening. Yeah, it really changed the whole direction of what we did with this podcast. And we thought we were just going to sit around and talk about bands that we like. And then it turned out like, oh, I know why we look, we want to talk about the electricity. Yeah. We want to know how they keep the lights on. They play a grass. Yeah, they played a grass. Yeah. And the the nuts and bolts and and I think he's I think he's terrific at sharing that with us. And he gives us a lot of good information. Yeah. And then when we repeat the information back to his coworkers, they're all like, he said what he said, what? Why did he say that? What? All right, here we go. Let's go play our from AC Entertainment. Let's bring them on to the what? Guests. Welcome back, Jeff. How are you? Hanging in there. Yeah. Are you? You got a got a little bit of information for us here in the last couple of days. Yeah, we've got you know, we've got a we've got a virtual festival that we're going to have. I wonder why we need to do that. You know, we just thought it'd be a shape things up a little bit. Yeah, something different, you know, going back to the farm every year. Let's let's let's try something new. It's funny. I interviewed Kevin Kenny for the paper a couple of weeks ago, and I, you know, in my usual smart ass way, I was like, so my first question. So how's your summer been? Yeah, thinking. And he went for like 10 minutes. Very serious. I talked about recording new stuff and all this. And so I was going to ask Jeff, so how's your summer been? You've been busy? I've been been very busy, actually. It's actually it's funny to think that, you know, the first part of the summer or first part of the year was more or less dedicated to shifting and figuring out, you know, what can happen, what's possible, how can we make that stuff happen? OK, we can't make that happen. So then what's up next? And we kind of always have had the idea of doing something along these lines, period. And so let's just say we forced to fast forward that and really pay attention to, you know, kind of what's going out there. But I think we had a little bit of luxury of knowing that the festival was, you know, since we were able to move dates to September, it gave us a time to step back and really evaluate one, are we going to be able to pull it off this year? And then two, if we can't, what do we want to do? And how do we want to do it the bottom of the way? I want to talk about reality that's coming up here a little bit in a bit, but I want to go backwards for a second, especially when it comes to, you know, you're looking at the country and the environment in the first of March. And you know, Bader was essentially one of the last ones to call it, you know, one of the last ones to pull the plug, really definitely one of the last ones to reschedule. Go through the process and where your mind was, at least, did you in March say to yourself when you saw Coachella go, did you say to yourself, this isn't happening? Or were you still trying to hold out hope and rearrange your mind to, you know, well, this could work and then that could work. It all depends on which moment I blinked to determine to kind of give you that answer. It yeah, that definitely was an insomniac feeling that this is it's not going to happen. But there was also the the wait and see, you know, what are we really dealing with here and how how will the country and how, you know, our lawmakers and how will the science react and what are we really dealing with? So I think for a lot of it, you know, you were kind of paying attention what was going on overseas. But really, is that going to, you know, to impact us? And you know, for, you know, for I'd say a good number of us. We're focused on the physical festival at that point. Tell me when you're in March. I mean, even if February were weren't thinking that we're dealing with a sold out event. So we had a lot of there was a changes, but there were a lot of operational pieces that we were had been working on that were kind of, you know, kind of almost put your blinders on a little bit from adding roads to fabrication of structures to just a lot of the pieces and kind of clean up to get into it. Because once you know, I said a positive side of once you know you've got a sold out event and you're walking into that year, some of that decision making changes in terms of how you budget, how you look at things. So there was a lot of that. And then once we realized and I think some of the other decision making, granted, you know, I think Coachella was forced, obviously, to make a decision because the festival was earlier in the year. So with new science and information coming on a daily basis, we didn't want to jump to conclusions too early. Plus, for other events that made different decisions, they some of them hadn't released lineups yet. You know, some of them hadn't had even gone on sale year if they had they were very early in the cycle. We were dealing with the sold out event. So it was how do what is the best way to make sure we have a safe event? And then how do we ensure that we're able to maintain the fan experience and everything and all of those domino pieces moving forward before, you know, we're ultimately, you know, forced to make a decision on the actual moving of the event. And we felt like we made that decision. It was the right time for us and the right time to kind of make that decision for our fans in terms of preserving what we all know and love about bodybuilding. But up until the moment it was announced, was there a question? Was it was there a possibility that you could have made this where you guys going back and forth up until the moment it was announced? Or did you really feel it sometime in June or July? Let me add to that, because just to just because this is really the first time, Jeff, that I mean, Brad and I and Russ obviously have been talking about this since March. But this is the first time that we've really had you, you know, somebody who was in the in the room, so to speak. What was that like? Because, you know, I've been writing about it as a reporter and it it was what you knew, what you thought you knew at eight in the morning, completely changed at 10. And then again at noon, like every day. Right. I mean, that's the way it looked from from where I was. So talk about that. And really, has it changed? I mean, is it still feel like that? It does in a way, but I would say you're right. You know, what you wake up to in the morning was definitely different by lunch and then probably changed four more times before dinner and then overnight. You know, the conversations it was it was ever evolving. And I think the bigger challenge is everyone wanted answers. And we took the standpoint of like, we're not the experts from from, you know, the medical community, the scientific community. We need to wait and hear from them. Unfortunately, you need to wait and hear from from lawmakers because there's a certain amount of permitting process that goes along with producing a large scale event, especially one the scale of Bonnaroo. And so what are you or aren't you allowed going to be allowed to do? And they were struggling to make decisions because everything's changing so fast. And no one wants to sometimes make that difficult call. But I think once we realized that there was not going to be a shot to play in June, like this thing is there's just, you know, it's not going to happen. Prior to that, we had already started looking at what is our backup plan and can we move it and then going through all of the the traps or the process to determine, OK, now we're going to focus on this date. Let's make sure all of the major pieces can be aligned in order to move it. And then, too, I would say even like the secondary and tertiary pieces behind that, because as you know, it's not it's not just like opening an empathy. I mean, they're you know, from conversations, Department of Transportation to other permitting organizations, traffic control, all of that changes when you change the time frame. And what we were looking at specifically, obviously, change in the date of September schools in session. And what does that mean? And how is that going to how is that going to impact our audience knowing that you've got a large number of our population or our patrons, Bonarufians that are in college and or have may have small children and have to send them back to school. So what is that going to look like? So there definitely was it was not an easy decision to be made because of all of the factors that had to be considered to be able to make it happen. And when we finally ran through all of the traps and said, OK, operationally, logistically from a, you know, a booking standpoint, we can make this move, you know, through then then it was, you know, parallel pathing that piece with our are we able to present Bonaruf? So take let's take the like the functional decision making off the table. Can we present Bonaruf in a way that is still Bonaruf? So if it's not in the summer, will we have the leeway with our fans, our staff, with our artists to be able to still deliver the Bonaruf experience? And you know, I would say that was the last piece that we kind of almost had to overcome was feeling like, yes, we can still deliver. So functionally, we can make all the pieces happen. But will it still be Bonaruf? And kind of from that standpoint, you know, the thought process was, yes, we can. And based on everything, you know, kind of where we were to the point of making the final decision and then making it public. What about being able to to say, I think we have the support from our fans to do it because they want to see something happen. When you see when you say you you want to make sure that the last piece being the Bonaruf experience, were you willing to I'm guessing that the answer is going to be 100 percent. You could have made it what we know of and what we love in June. You could have made it in September. But was there a number you were willing to go with? Like if you could get it to 80 percent, if it wasn't fully Bonaruf, could you could you skirt around the edges and lose a few things and miss a couple of things if something fell through? Could you could you make it work at 75 percent? Can the car run? And Bonaruf run is a half take against. I don't know. We didn't have to make that call. I think it all depends on, you know, using your car analogy, do you need the windshield? Well, if you're going 25 miles down the 25 miles an hour and you're only going two miles, yeah, probably don't need a windshield. But if you're cruising down the highway, you probably want that windshield. So that's where you know what I love about I've always loved about the Bonaruf team and even has even how it has evolved. Everybody is bringing their perspective to the table and everybody's opinion is valued in a sense of what the overall Bonaruf experience is. I always say we are just the you know, we get to make it happen. But you know, it's the fans event and we just get the pleasure and the joy of being able to produce it every year. So it is it's thinking about what that is, because we know, you know, this would have been the 19th year. So that is, you know, that's a it's a very none of that is weighed lightly on any one of us. We understand the power that we have with that decision making and never want to take anything for granted because we want to make sure that our fans know our stay true to Rue and we deliver the product that is that is true to that. I think that's a great, great question, Brad, and it sort of gets to the T-shirt. It gets to the whole Ken Weinstein never not great, you know, came out of the whole 2016 conversation of the numbers were down. It was still a great, great Bonaruf, which the idea that something would have changed were to happen live in September would have had to because of what you said school. I didn't think about really, you know, we got college football in Tennessee. You would have had state troopers pulled this way. And that way there would be a lot of considerations. And you have to have to say it. This lineup was so good. How does that hurt? I mean, how bad does that hurt you guys? It was a sellout, but the line out was just amazing from the time it was announced. It does. It stings from the standpoint of even if like, you know, what would have happened in September, you know, we talk about the next iteration of it, even if it's 99 percent of the lineup, it's still only 99 percent. So it's like it is the lineup that won't I don't think could ever 100 percent make it there. And that yeah, that's a shame because there was a lot of it. And it's funny, you know, we joke before and we talked about the planting of grass and, you know, it's not a sexy thing. No one's going to write home about it or jump on social like, oh, my God, you know, that fescue is amazing. It's never going to happen. You mean I'm the one who talks about it. But all of the other pieces that we had in place to go along with that line up. So I mean, you talk about like the stars, the lining. It's like the perfect lineup operationally. We're doing a lot of things visually. We're going to be doing so many things and all of that paired together. Yeah, it's it's a real blow not to be able to to keep those pieces together. Just to kick kick extra sand in the face that weekend's weather was amazing. Oh, my God. I remember that. Yeah, it sucks. You know, it was like even better than the previous year, which was by far and above the best year ever. Well, to the weather, the weather point, is there is there a person in the room or or an active conversation that, you know, September might be a better date anyway? It's not Bonnaroo. I mean, can you say that that conversation hasn't happened? I mean, I would be lying to say that it hasn't happened in that sense. But there is something there's still something about even as our world changes across the board on every facet about summer escape. And I think that there is something to that because Bonaroo revere Bonaroo as it is my escape. And when other you know, it's hard to be able to, I think, collectively have that escape in another time of year. You can maybe have bits and pieces of it over a holiday weekends or something else, maybe like a fall break. But to have that the ability and almost the expectation to be able to shut down for a certain period of time and be in this fantasy land. I don't think you can take that away from the summer. You know, it is one of those things. Do I think you can still have an amazing event that probably will be successful? I think you could. But is it going to be everything that you want it to be? I mean, I never say never. But June is Bonnaroo. I think that your point you're totally right on target. But with the reason I sort of ask is because we're looking at reality in 2021. And you know, Coach Ella has already said they're going to go to the fall for next year because they're not you know, the country's not going to be ready by March, probably. If it's not already an active conversation that you guys are leaning into September of 2021 already, I would be stunned. I'd be stunned. So sure, you can you can probably say that June is the right time for it. But is it the right time for it in 2021? To be determined. Yeah. Well, I mean, look, it's an unanswerable question, in all honesty. But have you guys gone through the list of what you would need to do to even make June happen? Aside, like you said, the tier is of what you needed to happen in September. What is number one? What's the number one most important thing to happen between now and June for June to happen? A vaccine? Is it a vaccine? Is it is it the lineup? It's fair. Is it? Yeah, it's 100 percent fan safety. And it's how do we ensure a safe festival? You know, the mantra is if you can't produce a safe festival, you can't produce a festival. It doesn't matter how great the lineup is. It doesn't matter how awesome the pyro is. It doesn't matter. All of those are the pieces. It has to be a safe festival first. And that is where I think our heads are at. And it's it's just having kind of the understanding, you know, what is that step in terms of safety? It you know, you could do a whole separate weeklong podcast just dedicated to what that may be. And that changes. I mean, that's that's the other difficult thing is, you know, as as we learn more about, you know, what the science is and what the medical community is saying about it, there is definitely a it adjusts our thinking in terms of what is the best approach to produce a safe event. And so I think that is what you know, that's our focus right now is really producing a safe event. Let me let me jump on that. Is it? And we want to get to the Thursday event, the virtual event. Obviously, that's there's a lot to unpack there. I know. I know. I want to get into that. But this is a good logical sort of progression sort of ties into the question I'd asked earlier about that eight o'clock in the morning to noon sort of thing. What I mean, to me, it sounds it's it's the analogy would be like trying to turn a giant ship around in a in the river. You know, there's so many elements that are required for you guys to put this festival on. And you've had all of this happen. You've had the industry shut down. You've had layoffs. You've had everything else like everybody else. So it's not. And this is something, Brad, and we've talked about on here. It's not just a simple matter of somebody blowing a whistle and saying, hey, we're back. You know, we're back live. Talk a little bit about that. What what's it going to take to get this ginormous thing back? I mean, safety obviously is key, and I think that's obviously the right answer. But I just want to maybe give people a sense of what all is sort of involved from from your guys point of view to get this thing going, whether it's June or September. There is no one. I mean, as you mentioned, it's not one thing. I mean, it's, you know, I think having a better understanding of how this can be controlled. I think the other piece of it is how receptive people are to things may potentially not be the same. I mean, you see how people react to wearing masks. And so if we have to institute a a mask policy to where everyone is wearing masks as they're traversing on the grounds, will it be adhered to? And so I mean, there definitely is. Exactly. And so it isn't one thing. I mean, it isn't there has to be a vaccine. You know, there isn't like there has to be a four step treatment plan to where, you know, you're going to be good and you're not you're not spreading it in a certain way. There's there's multiple factors that are going into it. And some of it has to do with the lawmakers in terms of each in each state. And I think Tennessee has been with the Tennessee Pledge. I think there definitely has been some very positive examples of how they've moved forward and have instituted things that have been successful. And I want the race and Bristol, I think, went off. If I'm not mistaken, it went off pretty flawlessly. And there hasn't there hasn't been anything coming back on that yet. There's been, you know, you've seen other examples of like a chase rice incident. What happened to chain smokers? So it isn't just simply I don't want to say our call, because ultimately it is our call on whether or not we decided to pull with things. But it's taking all of the various information points and just being able to make the most qualified decision. And is one of those points large enough to basically derail and cause us to say, OK, we're not ready yet. Is it all five factors? Can we deal with having four out of the five or which four out of the five make it work? And that's you know, I would say that's it changes very. And I wish I could I wish I could say, you know, it's like a vaccine we're in because we still could have a vaccine and still not be ready because the vaccine has not been able to hit a penetration point of 70 percent of the US population. And that's and that's going to be it. You know, where, you know, do we feel like people entering the grounds maybe after things? I think we've heard about ready, ready, the ready tests that you get results back in 15 minutes. You know, is that part of it? I don't know. And then that's and by the way, the expense of that for, you know, one hundred thousand people is come on, you know, if you thought, you know, money was tight before Jesus, you know, the the so let's put it in this weird last six months. Have you done any of the virtual shows? Have you done any of the drive in shows? You personally, have you been a part of any of them? Did you go to any of them? Have you liked any of them? I personally have not been I've done a lot of virtual ones. I've a lot of our festival friends and competitors of I've watched. I'd say, you know, a lot of it's honestly I've watched just mainly from a research standpoint and what has worked, what hasn't, what I like, what I dislike. I mean, that's one thing I would have to say we're very fortunate before going to talk about the virtual reality stuff is a lot of people pulled theirs off before we did. So we got to learn from what others did. And, you know, Bonner's always been, you know, I think kind of setting the curve a lot of ways and I think we're benefiting from like, let's let other people, you know, pull this thing off and then and then we'll go forward with it. You know, it's it's different. You know, I would say how it's changed and where I see it evolving. I don't think virtual is going to be gone. I think virtual in some form or fashion is going to really enhance the festival experience specifically for those that can't be on the grounds in later years. So let's just go back to where, you know, festivals are full capacity and running like normal. I think there are going to be opportunities that the virtual space can really do some fun and interesting things, because let's be honest, we all have things that come up, you know, whether it's family obligations, a vacation, whatever it may be, it cause you to miss a festival from, you know, from year to year. And I think this may be the opportunity for folks to try something different and still engage with the brand. So I think there's a lot of opportunity for that piece to kind of escape. And when I think about it, it's like this is the this is the first real go through with one of these. By the next time we go through some of these, look at the DNC and the RNC, right? They had to completely remake their entire presentation. And it actually sort of made it better, you know, and they had to rethink every like even the roll call had to be completely rethought. And it was brilliant and they're never going back to the way that they did it before. You know, the first time that you do this, the first time anybody does this is going to be, you know, a little strange, but then it could turn into a really impressive event, especially, you know, the way that it can grow, you know, putting, you know, I can I can envision a world where you're creating a virtual online festival and you're putting the the the patrons, the listener, the viewer into it with you, having them in and out of shows, introing shows coming out, you know, the way that you can program it, you know, you can program any way you want to. You know, it doesn't have to be a list of artists, a list of bands, you know. But we're learning that we're learning how this is happening really on the fly and watching it grow is been sort of neat. I mean, it's one of the one of the side benefits, I guess, is the soul thing. Yeah, everybody. Everybody's figuring out why they do something. They're asking themselves why they do it, what works, what doesn't work, and then they're making it better, which is, you know, typically, hopefully what we do. Well, to me, the best move that you made for the virtual reality was the beasties. I think that the thing that got me this summer the most out of anything was the Beastie Boys documentary. It's the one thing that I think that I mean, you can scream Tiger King like you want to. But for me, it was the Beastie documentary. And then, you know, the day that Barry watched it, he called me afterwards. He's like, I didn't realize the last show they ever played was Bonnaro. Yeah. And being able to watch that whole thing through. I mean, we were 20 feet from the stage at that show. It was really one of the most magical moments of our life, especially if you grew up with the Beastie Boys. Putting that on there, that was a good move. I'm really looking forward to watching that again. I'm so excited for people to see something like you just talking about about like Goosebumps from Armageddon. It was an amazing set. And then to have the impact of what it will mean to Beastie Boys fans across the world. I'm really excited about it. It's you know, there's other ones. I mean, like the Dave Matthews set that we've got on there, too. You know, their campus, it's one of their favorite sets of all time. And it's I think it's because that the level of the special guest and everybody who came to be a part of that show. This is the AmFriends show, right? Yeah. Is this the AmFriends show? Yeah. Yeah, it's something special. I mean, if you really look at all of the archival sets, there's something special in there. And it's one of the questions that I've received a lot is like, you know, there's a lot of things going back in some of the earlier years. Why not some of the stuff that, you know, you know, over the past two or three years? And I'm like, not to say that, you know, we didn't have some amazing stuff in the past two years because we have some mind blowing sets have happened. But if you look at some of the technology and what people are kind of capturing, you know, even on YouTube and what phone technology has and things along those lines, that didn't happen back in 06. That didn't happen back in 05 and 09. And I think that is another piece of why we decided to dive a little bit back further into the archives is some of these things people have never seen before unless you were there. Or we put it included in like some of our earlier documentaries that we used to put out. James Brown comes to mind. I mean, the guys here on the radio were just talking. Yeah, I missed that. I was one of those. I stayed at camp. They were thinking James Brown, you know, seen him. He's old. Why would I go to that? And then everyone came back and like, oh, my God. I mean, that's that's the thing. Like what we've noticed, Jeff, I think to our total surprise is that most of the people that we have listening to this podcast are not the lifers like we are. They are the they're more of the Russ, the Lord tacos of the world where this is our third monoroo or, you know, yeah, of course, they want McCartney to come back because they didn't see him the first time. But that feels like yesterday to me. So yeah, to me, I think I think the magic is is going back to the roots and where some of these like first shows started. Look, man, you'll be was I know Lord tacos really excited about the show. And so was I. But his post the other day, I mean, that one about kicked me in the gut. His Instagram post was he got a 2006 Monoroo poster in the mail. And he said one of my absolute favorite gigs of all time was that that first radio head show at Bonnaroo. That's where some of that magic is. And even if you found it the last two years, boy, it was birthed, you know, so long ago. So yes, stay with that old stuff. I think that you can't you can't mess with the hits. You can't miss the hits. And then where I think we were able to, again, you know, being able to look at it from this standpoint, we got to watch what others did. That's where we went after the the I said the more fresh stuff for the more new stuff with original content that has come in the appearances. So I think that's where we're able to leverage our relationships to do, you know, like Chromio's new project and to have some of the other things. You know, Tank of the Bangos and St. Paul and the Broken Bones and some of your. Tank of the Bangos literally across the street from like a wave tour if you want me to. Yeah. So I think having some of that that that piece into the mix, that's where you're going to get, you know, it's the good the good. I mean, the the new stuff as well as some of the the archival footage that all plays together. And then some of the original programing. I'm really excited for a lot of people to hear some of our campfire tales. They're coming out there. And then, you know, even the more the philanthropic stuff we're doing with the Cheers to Live and Bacardi where, you know, we're hitting some of the national historic theaters in the state of Tennessee and giving them an opportunity to do something fun. Let's take a drink break, mix a drink and then and then be able to, you know, share that as a fundraising opportunity for those for those nonprofits and the Ducky Dance Party. I mean, I think we are staying true to Rue from the standpoint of we're even doing different things like, hey, listen, bands on a stage is fun. This new content is fun. But let's get up and dance with our pets like, yeah, it's just gonna be fun. Good. It's really good. That's really good. I'm sure I'm sure, you know, I'm sure our calls coming any minute. You know, I'm sure we can. We'll take the call. We'll be there whenever you need. I'm sure it's going to be coming in any minute now. But yeah, like a small little box. I think about the idea of me just sitting at the house in a bathrobe and having my own road party. I thought that I thought that was just Thursday at the Steiner House. You know, I have mine actually just arrived today. Oh, yeah. So I like I like all like all the other Bonarukians. I made the preorder back in July, August and my my care package just today that I that I ordered to support support the cause myself. Does the road match the banana suit? There we go. They're two different. That sounds like a sexual. It does. So yeah, those those specialty things for people who have never been a Bonaruk, they they probably don't understand how it is so much more than just the shows. The shows are amazing, but it's the special events. It's the experiences. It's the camping. It's the whole thing. And you guys have always taken that. I always have felt as seriously as everything else. Those those extra things don't feel like they're just sort of put there to fill out, you know, somebody's day. I'll put it that way. Yeah, no, they're they're very important. And you do not leave the stream and go make Big Freedia's booty popping potatoes. Like we have I got to see the rough cut of it. And I was like, and that's what we're eating for dinner tonight and promptly made some booty popping potatoes. And you're talking about all of their neighbors right now. It's like three of us are on the corner, too. All right. This is coming to New Orleans. We can do all this together. She was very kind enough to deliver her recipe for that. And I can't think right now. How long how long did it take to put the whole thing together? Oh, God. Is it still being done? Not finished. Yeah, we're out of it. And we've got some pieces that are still they're still being finalized. We've got a campfire tale. One last one that is getting edited as we speak that we should be able to see that I can't wait. I've heard bits and pieces, but not the full story together from from a special guest that will be great. Now, what are you talking about? Because there's no fires at bottom. Remember, it's a campfire. You can't set a campfire. A virtual campfire. All right. Just we're virtual. Yeah. OK. Speaking of speaking of things you can't can't do, Bonnaroo, I'm just you know, I'm not going to insinuate or jump to conclusions, but there's an arch behind you, Jeff. I'm wondering why that was coming. Just been waiting for that question. Yeah. Can make their own assumptions. You know, that's I will let you jump to conclusions, Matt, and make any conclusions you want. Whatever whatever Easter eggs you want to drop. That's fine. But what is the this is as the future going into the future, knowing that there's going to be very difficult to figure out what happens. We haven't figured out what happened the last six months to help what we know about the next six months. So after the reality thing comes and goes and you know, you deep refund all of that, what's in the next process for you guys? What happens next? I think I'm on a 2021. So you know, I mean, that's where we are focused on, you know, getting having the most amazing virtual festival that we can produce out there and still focus them on the turn our attention to 2021 and and and celebrate our 20th anniversary. So I think that's going to be our next big thing. We're going to take all the information and everything that we've got and make the best decisions we can for the festival moving forward. But you know, right now it is that's that's how we have to look at it is, you know, we're full steam ahead on that roller coaster. If you will, we were talking about earlier. How does that feel? Can you can you? Do you feel confident you have a picture of what 2021 looks like or does it feel like that 8 a.m. noon to four type of thing still? You know, there's one thing I learned. I want to say early on because it definitely wasn't early on in this whole process is the speculation. I just have to kind of remove it and really focus on what we can control and where we can push things. And for us, there is every year we look at how we can make Bonnaroo and any festival produced better. And the one thing I will take away from this time is the amount of focus and attention we've been able to put towards it and really thinking about all of those minute details as we joke about grass and other things are are where where can we reprioritize stuff? But now when you have more than like you're dedicated, almost meeting time to have a discussion about this and then pull certain pieces back together, I think we've been able to really reflect on some of those big, bigger pieces and smaller ones and how that whole puzzle puts together. And so I remove some of the speculation and what to think about and push it more towards here's what I can control and here's what our team can control and here's how we're going to move forward on what we can control. And once decisions can get made based off of new science, new leadership, new whatever it may be, then we will move forward with that. Well, you know, we'll have our our plans and then our contingency plans in place. But that's every festival. So it doesn't mean take take pandemic, take whatever you want off the table. There's always going to be something. There's always going to be something that we have to pay attention to, that we have to make sure that we're aware of and think about how it impacts us. But last year you had to deal with the Las Vegas shooting and how that changed your security plans. Yes, I get that. But wise guy, wise man once told me that don't show me your values, show me your budget. How does how does your how does the things that you want to accomplish if this was a normal year due with the budget restrictions? Are there budget restrictions? What has 2020 done to the overall bank account? Because I know it's done to my business bank account. I know it's done to so many small businesses, big bank account. I think that, you know, it's no secret you guys are under the umbrella of Live Nation. But we all know what Live Nation is having to go through and what the entire industry is having to go through. So how does the budget work in all? I mean, the budget is always going to be a factor. I mean, there's a certain amount. I mean, we may have to make some tough decisions at times to make it work. But, you know, in my opinion, it's no different really than any other year. I mean, every year, you know, there is a budget and here's the budget you have to stick to. And if there is a deviation for whichever reason for the budget, you know, there's got to be a damn good reason. But you know, prior to Live Nation and then with Live Nation, that's always that's always the case. And if you're trying to build a successful business is, you know, be mindful of that. I think, you know, I know Live Nation knows the sensitivity as well as the what they have in an asset like Bonnaroo. And they have never stepped in from a standpoint of like forcing it one way or another because it's so special. And it's taken, you know, all of these 19 years to get to this special place. And now it is our it is our opportunity. It's our pleasure to be able to keep pushing this thing forward and continue to make it and improve upon it. So that part doesn't concern me. I think, you know, again, there are realities in terms of financials that we'll have to think about. But coming out on the other side of this, I look we we look at more of the opportunity. And if we didn't have the backing and we weren't under the Live Nation umbrella, I would probably be way more concerned about that question than I am now because it's a global organization. And that is, you know, that's we've got amazing leadership at the helm there. And it's going to, you know, it's going to allow us to make the best decisions to keep this amazing event going. How much does and along those same lines, and it's maybe an obvious question, but how much does the fact that you guys own the farm play into long term future and goals? Does that help tremendously because you kind of in control? Does it you know, does it is it a level of commitment? You know, it's not a rental. You know what I mean? Is that does that make sense? Oh, yeah. Yeah, no, it does make sense. And it's extremely helpful. You know, it makes it we drive the schedule versus, you know, if you're going into, let's just say an arena or another another facility, you've got to worry about everything else there. And, you know, and what else could be in the schedule for that particular space? We are the schedule. We make the schedule. And so that has it has been a blessing for us from from everything from capital improvements to our decision making process. It is it's one less decision we have to worry about in terms of moving things around, shuffling them or when we start to build how we do to build. And it is with that side and owning it, we can protect Bonnaroo in a way that perhaps if we didn't own the site, we wouldn't have that wouldn't have that ability. So and Brad, let me let me say before you got on, we were just chatting TACO and Jeff and I and I think the quote was you would rather do six or seven live Bonnaroo's than one virtual Bonnaroo. Yes, it's that much work. It is. It is. I mean, yes. And I would say probably if I was a seasoned veteran that producing virtual music festivals like I am about producing physical festivals, I may not feel that same exact way. But you kind of don't know what you don't know. And we've been very lucky to have, you know, have a team and some very skilled people within our team that, you know, do know that space extremely well. But all of it's changing, too. I mean, the number of new platforms that came up from March to now is almost mind numbing. So you're just trying to make a decision on what platform you're going to go with and why you're going with a different platform. Do you charge? Do you not charge? I mean, all of those various things, I think probably put a lot of it at play. Because, you know, let's be honest with, you know, this type of virtual festival and trying to do new things, there are still limitations because people aren't traveling. It's not like you can with your typical event. I mean, unfortunately, I didn't get to watch the Emmys last night. But the fact that, you know, people were making their acceptance speeches at home and things along those lines, you couldn't even do we couldn't even do like an NBA bubble. You know, like that's not even possible with this type of thing. So you tack on the fact that that's we don't produce virtual festivals. And then you throw in all of the hurdles to kind of get there. It just made it very, very challenging. Then to that point, who's who's actually who's the director? Who's the producer? Who's actually making the whole operation work? You still got the same team. And it's just I would say our production team, you know, led by Daniel Gibbs is, you know, he's the heavyweight kind of in that in that make sure that that kind of understands how the piece is. But you still got talent buyers because the talent buyers have to interact with the artists to get the permissions to be able to play archival set or do new stuff. You still have, you know, our partnerships team talking to the various brands that are helping to make sure everything functions and works together and come up with the integration ideas to say, you know, how is that authentic and staying true to who we are as Bonne Rue? What other cool things and different things can we be doing that is just, you know, that stays unique to the festival branding? As we mentioned, I mean, big three to do a booty popping potatoes doesn't work in a lot of other events. And it does work for us. So it's being able to have that type of stuff. You still had a lot of your same team. It's just causing us to think in a way that is not physical, but virtual. And then what opportunities come into play? And I'll be honest, I wish we had, you know, probably six more months because there were probably about a solid 10, 15 other ideas that would have been amazing to execute had we had more time. And I think that's kind of speaks to where we're going. The opportunity is endless. And so a lot of some of these ideas that we came up with, like, that's awesome. Let's put a pin in that one. And then we're going to come back to it because potentially we use it for the 20th anniversary, potentially use it for ways to interact with fans as we are moving forward, for leading into the physical event. And so I take the blessing of this entire exercise as one expanding skill set and two forcing us all to think in a way that I don't want to say is uncomfortable, but, you know, is it second nature like producing large scale events? So you didn't hire. So what I'm learning is that you didn't go outside your basic operation to hire like a director or somebody who does videography for a living. You didn't go outside the bubble to make this work. No, I mean, I'd say just about everything is internal. All the skill set was internal. It's just taking that skill set and saying, instead of this, reimagining it, re-imagine it to this. So that's what I think the beautiful thing was, is you have a number of, I mean, so many talented people on our team that, you know, to make this happen, they all had the skills. Everyone had the skills. It's just a matter of we haven't had to use the skills in that fashion. And that's been kind of the fun is to really kind of have the conversations with team members and be like, but wait a minute, we're, you know, walls are down. We can do whatever we want. Now we just have to stay within budget. Did you do anything on the farm? There are some pieces that may have happened on the farm. Okay. All right. Interesting. So back to Brad's point about the fact that, you know, we've done this for a long, long time and a lot of people don't. I think you told me last year during one of our interviews that what, 60% of people are new each year. Is that, am I getting that number about right? That's about right. When you look at it, it didn't return from last year. Yeah. So, okay. But of those 60%, I don't want to quote numbers here. There's a good chunk of that 60% that maybe didn't come last year, but have been to a bar before. So, cause in our mind, we, it's the same people every year, you know, cause it is. And it's an unfair question, but I, I'm going to ask it anyway. For those of us who are familiar and used to it a certain way, can you look into a, a crystal ball or whatever? What do you think it looks like? Is it going to be somewhat similar? Not at all similar. I mean, is this pandemic going to completely change? It's hard for me to imagine 80,000 people like we have in the past on the farm, given everything. What are you guys thinking? I think it, it will return. And I don't want to say to normal because normal, you know, if you, if you just look back in the context of history, normal is whatever today is that it changes every day from that standpoint. I think what, if, if this has taught, taught us all something is to don't skip out on those opportunities, take those chances because you may spend the next six months in your house and not able to do so. So take advantage of the ability to have the experiences you have. Don't, don't take it for granted because it can be fleeting and it can go away. So would it be the exact same? Probably not. But if you go back, you know, was Bonnaroo, how we ran Bonnaroo in 2019, was it the same as 2018? No, it wasn't. And you know, was 2018 the same as 2006? Hell no, it wasn't. You know, we've, you know, the core of it was there and it will always be there, but how those pieces kind of work together change. And I think you may see a more of a drastic change, not a drastic, you know, more of a perceivable change from, you know, 2019 to 2021 or, you know, even, even moving forward. It may not be as slight, but there will be change. And I, I have faith in people that we are, are just dying to come back together and to be together. And ultimately if it means we're all wearing face masks and we're doing, you know, hopping on one foot, then we're all going to wear face masks and hop on one foot because we are, we are a tribe and the tribe wants to dance and sing and to be in breath and just be together. And I, so I think we will, we will overcome and it will be, it'll be great. It'll be amazing. Man, Jeff Quay are eternal optimists. He's got much more optimism than I do. That's never not great. Never not great. And that's the point of what that whole 60% sort of thing is those guys don't know what last year was like. Yeah, you know, it's just where they are today. So, you know, I think that gets lost sometime. I know Brad and I both, we've had those kinds of aha moments like, well, they weren't there in 2013. They don't know, you know, you mean when they moved to hell, when they moved to hell, when they moved to hell. Jeff, you know, I, you know this, we love you and we so appreciate your time. We value it immensely. And, you know, you drop a lot of knowledge on this every time you stop by. So, you know, keep, keep the positivity, man, because seeing the election thing play out and watching what's happening around, you know, what's around us every turn ain't easy. It ain't easy to keep that up. So vote. If you can work the polls, go work the polls, because if you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain. You got to go vote. Well, thank you for everything in the time. And man, we can't thank you enough and hopefully we'll see you soon. We missed you virtually this weekend, right? We'll all be hanging out watching the Beast of the Earth. Yeah, this weekend. Absolutely. I missed you and your banana suit. And that's not a euphemism, I think. It's not a euphemism. Do you know, is PBR coming back? This year? The thing that matters most to tacos. He's waited an hour. He's waited an hour. All I can say to that is that we will always have delicious, amazing beer on tap. It's always happened in cans. And I'll trust the cans part of it. Always. Thank you. Thank you so much. Hey, in California now, we didn't even get into that. Yeah, we met in California. I did. I live in the Bay Area, not just outside of San Jose. My wife is now a professor at San Jose State. We intended on going back to the Southeast and we took a wrong turn. And yeah, we're here. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So we're all. They gave us a nice warm fire welcome. We got out of that cold Chicago. This is great. You moved to a new city during a pandemic. I got to New Orleans two days after Mardi Gras and 10 days before everything shut down. I didn't get festivals. I didn't get jazz festivals. I didn't get Mardi Gras. I didn't get... So now I'm just in a, you know, watching ferns grow. Essentially, I'm watching ferns grow. All right. Jeff, thank you, man. Thank you. I appreciate it. See you guys this weekend virtually. Yeah, I can't wait. Enjoy as we enjoy. Enjoy all of it. Good blast. Excellent. All right, guys, we're going to do intros and outro. Yeah, we're doing an intro and then I'm good to go. Do you need me for this or my outro? We do not. All right. No. Thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it. You're the best. Appreciate it. Thanks. There you go, Jeff Cuellar on the What Podcast, another amazingly brilliant chat from Jeff who always seems to put things in perspective for us. I think that my favorite part of that was hearing Barry's ship analogy. I really did enjoy that. It's sort of like making a ship turn in a river. That's pretty good. Yeah. It's pretty good. I thought that was important and the fact that he would not give up whether the arch was coming back or whether P.B. Paps was coming back. PBR was coming back. Paps is coming back. Well, I think that we all knew if you put it this way, you can tell who wasn't the biggest fan of the squarch. No matter who they were, whether they inside the building, outside the building, you could just tell the way that they they talk. Some people like the squarch, other people, you know. But but to the PBR and the the squarch thing, he turned he puts his hat on because he was the one who had to put lipstick on that. You remember last year and he did as good a job as he could do. You know what? It's it's we're all just trying to make it. OK, we're just trying to get that baby needs new shoes. We've got patreons to thank. Let's go down the line. Timothy Proctor, Aaron Carlson, Leslie Condor, David Grimes, Bill Hanley, Chloe Hanley, and Benjamin Wells. Tori musical antlers and Mary T. Styler, Melanie and Jesse Feldman, Parker Reed, Dan Swinney, Joshua Herndon, Lauren Edholm, Nick Yeatman, Tyrone Basket, Evan Brown, and Ross McNamara, William Richards, William Wilhwait, Sean McCarthy, Ryan Matthews, and Chelsea Davis, Lucy Young, Jason Hazelbaker, D.K., Linda Doles, Jacob Marty, and Andrew T. McBride, Justin Nigro, David Solano, Catherine Riccio, Meredith Ritman, D.J., Bryce Brinston. D.J. is one of our new ones as is new. Yeah, as is Kyle Boyle, Riley Benson, Madison Huzzickio, Zisco. Please let me know how to say that, Madison. Daniel and Sharla Horton and Sean McCain, David Henson, Brooke Tussie and Ella. So thank you guys for being so supportive. By the way, it's it's lethal. It's lethal. What did I say? You said Leslie. I didn't say lethal. No, you said you said you said it wrong. She spent on our show. We had her on the show. She said diesel. I said I thought I said it right. That's my problem. Now, that's how I got to end it. I've got to end it with that big fat failure. All right. If you want to do it again, you can. She got her name mentioned two or three times. Anything else to get to before we wrap up for today? Now I am looking forward to watching that Beastie Boys set. Do they have the set times out yet? They put that out. It's a great question. I don't think I've seen a schedule. You know, that was you know what? We should have somebody on to talk about this and ask them questions like this. That would be important to know. All right. I'm on it. Set that up. All right. We'll talk to you next time. Love you. Bye. Bye. Journey through the stories that define the artist's playing by the rules. Who are they? What are they? What will you see? The what? Which bands? This year, That Matter with Brad Steiner and Barry Courter.