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My First ‘Roo: Artists Reflect on Their Past Bonnaroo Experiences (Cherub, J. Roddy Walston & The Business)

by Mike Greenhaus on June 12, 2014

A selection of this year’s artists reflect on their past trips to The Farm as fans, performers and the muddy spaces in between

Cherub’s Jason Huber

Bonnaroo Classes ‘06-‘13

Perhaps no artist on this year’s bill has attended Bonnaroo as many times in as many different capacities as Cherub’s Jason Huber. Since rolling into his first Bonnaroo in 2006 with a few friends, Huber has returned to the fest over the years as a fan, staff member and volunteer, as well as an unofficial performer playing pop-up shows for fans and event workers. (Some of his colorful—and muddy—2009 Bonnaroo campground exploits are documented on the popular YouTube clip “Mud Kid Roo 2009.”) He even brought his dad one year. Finally, in 2012 Huber made his first official appearance as one half of the indie-minded-electro-duo Cherub in Bonnaroo’s new-music themed café spaces.

Bonnaroo also serves as something of a homecoming for Huber and his Cherub musical partner Jordan Kelley: the group formed not too far away at Middle Tennessee State and lists Nashville as the band’s hometown. Their smash “Doses and Mimosas,” inspired by events a few hours away in Alabama, was also a Southeast festival-circuit anthem long before it went viral. This year Cherub will swing back through Bonnaroo as part of a world tour that includes a run through Europe and a stop across the pond at this festival’s spiritual godfather Glastonbury. They will perform in That Tent at 9pm tonight and will remain onsite for an encore appearance on the Sonic Stage at 3pm on Saturday.

What were your expectations of Bonnaroo before your first trip to the festival?

I had no idea what to expect at my first Bonnaroo, and that was the best part! But the first time we played the festival, I had been waiting over 6 years to yell, “What's up Bonnaroo?!?!”

I have been going to Bonnaroo since ‘06, so this will be my ninth year in a row on The Farm. I have attended as a patron, a volunteer, a staff member and two years ago I had the chance to perform with Cherub. Bonnaroo and Christmas are my two favorite times of the year!

What do you remember most about your own performance?

The crowd at our set two years ago was so rowdy that we almost had to cut our set short because people were climbing up the trusses at the stage. We had to briefly pause to ask them to get down so we could play more—and they did. Then we all raged on! No harm, no foul.

Describe your craziest Bonnaroo experience.

If you search “Mud Kid Roo 2009” on YouTube, that was my campsite. You’ll find a video of Colby Buckler, myself and apparently some guy from Mars Volta, sitting in with This is Art at my bootleg campsite concert, while the “mud kid” had some sort of religious experience with the Bonnaroo mud. My dad was at Bonnaroo with me that year—you should have seen his face when he saw the “mud kid!”

How does Bonnaroo compare to other festivals you have played

I don’t want to use the word favorite, so I won’t use the word favorite because it would be unfair to use the word favorite... I LOVE Bonnaroo. It is but, but f*ck it! Bonnaroo isn’t for the weak... and if you are weak, it will make you stronger!

What was your quintessential Bonnaroo moment from years past?

My Morning Jacket’s set at the Which Stage in 2008—“Dondante” in the rain was epic. R. Kelly releasing white dove balloons during “I Beleive I Can Fly” at the Which Stage in 2013 was epic. Sitting on a blanket facing away from main stage during Radiohead’s set in 2006—I’m sure the show was epic. Wish I had seen it, but I don’t regret all of the friends I made at my first ‘Roo! And if I am allowed to even speak of it, the Staff-terParty!!!

What band would you most like to collaborate with at Bonnaroo this year?

I want Kanye West to sit in during our set. We’ll give him 30 minutes to rant about whatever is on his mind. THAT would be something!

J. Roddy Walston

Bonnaroo Class: ‘11

Perhaps there was something in the water. In 2002, while Superfly and AC Entertainment put together the inaugural Bonnaroo right here in Manchester, Tenn., J. Roddy Walston formed The Business just across the state in Cleveland, Tenn. Settling on a mix of rootsy Southern rock, punk energy and indie weirdness that recalls Bonnaroo’s own musical DNA, the band released their first EP later that year, before relocating to Baltimore, Md. in 2004. Walston spent years barnstorming the country with Bonnaroo favorites like The Black Keys, Lucero, Deer Tick and The Lumineers and made their first stop on The Farm in 2011 for a performance at Bonnaroo’s intimate Cafe Where stage in 2011. Thanks to some downtime between What Stage stars The Black Keys and Eminem—and a little rain—J. Roddy Walston & The Business turned on a tent-full of new fans during their short set and even caught My Morning Jacket from the exclusive backstage balcony. This year the band—which also boasts guitarist/vocalist Billy Gordon, bassist/vocalist Logan Davis, and drummer Steve Colmus—return to the festival with Essential Tremors, their most eclectic album yet, which spikes their original sounds with such Bonnaroo sounds as soul, hard rock and even pre-disco-era Bee Gees beats. The group will play This Tent at 11:30pm tonight and offer an intimate set on the Sonic Stage at 6pm tomorrow.

What were your expectations of Bonnaroo before your first trip to the festival?

I thought it was gonna be a mad house of dirt, sweat, drug zombies, rad bands and hanging with other bands we were buds with. I was pretty dead on.

What do you remember most about your own performance?

We were right in between The Black Keys and Eminem and it started raining. People flooded the tent right after our first song and it turned into a wet mess of a party! It was pretty special.

Describe your craziest Bonnaroo experience.

I saw a girl pass out in a stream of what looked like Powerade and urine and no one thought it was abnormal. They just looked at her like a child taking a nap.

How does Bonnaroo compare to other festivals you have played

It is the Wild West compared to most other festivals. I literally think there was a tent where you could settle camping disputes with gunfights.

What was your quintessential Bonnaroo moment from years past?

Watching My Morning Jacket from the backstage balcony with my family was pretty unreal.

What band would you most like to collaborate with at Bonnaroo this year?

Lionel Richie!


Haha I can only imagine Kanye and Cherub taking on Bonaroo. Thatd be nuts! I’m having too much fun watching their new music video for “Doses & Mimosas”

By RockOnMN - 06/14/14


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