Last summer, I took 3 teenagers by myself to the colossal music festival in Manchester, Tennessee called Bonnaroo. This was a notable step out of my comfort zone but I loved every minute of it and had an absolute blast. I've read that Bonnaroo is a Creole slang word meaning "really good time". New Orleans R & B singer Dr. John used the term on his 1974 album entitled "Desitively Bonnaroo."
Full disclosure: our little band of festival-goers did not camp out at Bonnaroo. We day-tripped. Our humble abode was but 30 minutes away and I chose to sleep in the comfort of my own bed, take a hot shower every night and have access to full plumbing. So I guess my version was Bonnaroo-lite. Next summer I will be on the cusp of turning 50 and plan to return to the festival. Maybe I'll even rent one of the swanky luxury tents or cabanas for a birthday blow-out!
Since I was responsible for 3 teenagers, I made sure to be well prepared (bottom middle picture shows my daily backpack contents). I wanted it to be a fun, memorable and safe experience. It was all of that and so much more. The 4-day event takes place on a sprawling 700-acre farm about 1 hour southeast of Nashville. It felt like an enchanted commune with a welcoming, peaceful and happy vibe. You can't help but get swept away by the revelry. There was an obscene amount of high-fiving and people shouting: "Happy 'Roo". We made a lot of fantastic memories in that kooky counter-culture world.
The lineup was outstanding. Some of the acts we caught: Spoon, Guster, Earth Wind & Fire, Tears for Fears, Sturgill Simpson, Florence & The Machine, Twenty-one Pilots, Florence & the Machine, Bleachers, Mumford & Sons, Childish Gambino, Punch Brothers, Gary Clark Jr, The War on Drugs, Mini Mansions, Robert Plant, Moon Taxi and Kendrick Lamar. There is so much to take in, see and do that it is impossible to experience it all. The Silent Disco was a stand-out: a surreal dance party where people listen to music on wireless headphones. It is a trip to watch. The food was fantastic, the beer was cold, the port-a-cans were clean, the parking was a breeze and the atmosphere was electric. My only regret is that I didn't bring a friend along to share in the adventure. Who wants to meet on the Farm in 2017?