published Friday, May 4th, 2012

Courter: Is Bonnaroo now an oldies festival?

It has been my firm belief for years that musical tastes are about as subjective as anything can get. This has not always been the case.

For the first two or three decades of my life, I was pretty sure the music I liked was good and everything else was bad. Actually, I was positive.

So I somewhat understand the music-snob mentality. When people are very vocal about letting others know they unilaterally do not like a particular genre, festival or act, I understand that they think it somehow makes them superior and that the rest of us are marveling at their passion and wisdom.

This is, of course, pure fantasy.

In my old age, I've come to believe that if you like a particular song or artist, it's good, at least for you. This is not to say all music is good. It's just that I really don't care what someone else listens to.

So it has always seemed a colossal waste of energy to me when people rant about a show that has been booked here or about the Riverbend lineup. If you don't like it, don't go. But, more to the point regarding Riverbend, if you are letting a headliner you consider beneath your superior taste in music keep you from checking out a really good act on a side stage, you're missing a good opportunity to discover something new. There are always good acts on the lineup, and this year is no different.

This comes up because Bonnaroo booked Kenny Rogers. And they have the Beach Boys as well. Rogers played Riverbend in 2006, and The Boys were here last year. It is significant that the Bonnaroo show will feature Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston, who were not here last year. It also should be pointed out, however, that by accounts from people who attended, last year's Beach Boys' set was a Riverbend highlight. They are a perfect Riverbend act, with 90 minutes of music people love. I can't wait to see them at Bonnaroo.

Both were criticized as being has-been oldies acts when Friends of the Festival booked them. Apparently, the folks at Bonnaroo think otherwise.

I do have to admit to being somewhat shocked that Rogers will be at Bonnaroo, which takes place in a little over a month in Manchester, Tenn. It was named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll a few years ago.

It has proven itself over the last decade to be a mecca for music snobs. It's where hipsters go to discover acts their friends have never heard of.

Rogers' resume is long and filled with country hits, and when he performed here with the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, he was a perfect Riverbend act, but I'm not sure he approaches anything near Bonnaroo cool, if such a thing exists. He did sing "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)," which was made even cooler by being used to perfection in "The Big Lebowski," but he loses points for "The Gambler."

If I don't like his set, I'll go check out Dumpstafunk or Fitz & The Tantrums. They've played here before.

about Barry Courter...

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 ...

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