MANCHESTER, Tenn. — Like most of the 80,000 or so fans at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Jack Johnson was here to see Paul McCartney, hang out with a few fellow musicians and maybe even sit in with one or two.
He never expected to become a featured performer, much less a headliner.
Johnson was asked to play on the main What Stage tonight after scheduled headliner Mumford & Sons had to cancel. The popular group was forced to withdraw after bassist Ted Dwane received treatment for a blood clot on his brain.
“I’m here at my favorite place in the world,” Johnson said during a surprise appearance at a media orientation.
He played two new songs accompanied by Animal Liberation Orchestra member Zach Gill.
“I love playing here. It’s a place for collaboration. Bands feel connected here,” Johnson said. “There is a lot of music that happens backstage, but I’m happy to fill in. We will do our best.”
Johnson said his band hasn’t performed together in more than a year, so he joked about having a panic attack after saying yes to the gig. His drummer and bass player flew in Friday, and members of ALO were joining them, as well, he said.
When asked about joining Paul McCartney, who played Friday night, and Tom Petty, who headlines Sunday night, Johnson joked, “Who were those first two guys again?”
He said he was already “tripping out” and didn’t need to be reminded that most of the Bonnaroo nation will be there for his show, as no other shows are programmed when the headliners perform.
Friends Alfred Jones, 18; Larry Gallileo, 23; Alanna Foley, 21; and Maggie Meeh, 21, were thrilled with the Johnson announcement.
“We are so psyched about that,” Foley said.
Around lunchtime, they were seated around a picnic table talking about the food they had just eaten. Vendors in the Food Truck Court come from all over the country and offer everything from barbecue to grilled cheese to fusion dishes to meatball subs. They’ve been a part of Bonnaroo for three years.
“We are foodies, so we have lots to say about the food here,” Meeh said.
The two girls each had a pork sandwich, and the guys had grilled cheese sandwiches.
“They were overpriced and not worth it,” Jones said.
When it comes to packing food for their campsite, the four stuck with the staples.
Dried foods, peanut butter and fruit.
“Don’t forget to say watermelon,” Gallileo said.
“And avocado sandwiches,” Jones said.
The food trucks are inside Centeroo, the main area where the stages and vendors are. It is like a minicity with its own post office, a victory garden and tents filled with everything from T-shirts to people discussing ways to protect the environment.
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at 757-6354 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 ...