MANCHESTER, Tenn.—You never know who will show up at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. Friday night former porn and reality TV star Ron Jeremy was here, and Saturday, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made an appearance.
The basketball legend was on a news conference panel that included Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Stephen Stills, Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s fame, singer Nicole Atkins and music producer/performer Daniel Lanois.
Jabbar was in Manchester to promote his film, “On the Shoulders of Giants,” a documentary about the black pioneers in professional basketball that was screened earlier in the week in the cinema tent.
Furay was asked about the development of the music festival, something he and Stills have watched grow during careers spanning five decades.
“If Woodstock had been like this, we’d never have left,” Furay said.
Bonnaroo is the only festival show Buffalo Springfield is doing during its reunion tour after splitting up more than 30 years ago.
The group’s performance was on the don’t-miss list of Aaron and Kathryn Jones, of Richmond, Va. He is attending his second Bonnaroo, but its his wife’s first time.
“I came five years ago,” he said. “I like finding someone new. I did not know Ray LaMontagne then and he is back this year.”
This year’s new finds for the couple are Ben Solee for Aaron and Preservation Hall Jazz Band for Kathryn.
Also attending her first Bonnaroo is Marsha Drummond, director of education for the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
“I love it,” she said of the festival. “You can’t explain Bonnaroo to anyone without seeing it. From the hang gliders last night dropping the glitter or whatever it was to the music. I love the music and I love the energy of the kids, and they are kids, that are here.”
Drummond said she took in shows by Wanda Jackson, Grace Potter, Arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket, Big Boi and Lil Wayne.
“Big Boi had the energy I wish Lil Wayne had had,” she said.
She said the music she is seeing here is not that different from the music of her day job.
“They are similar music experiences that pull you in. I don’t think the opera crowd we get would put up with this heat, though.”
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...