It’s been a busy time since I got back from Bonnaroo 2009, the music festival in Tennessee, but I finally have the time to report on the proceedings.
The ‘Roo always has a baseball influence, from the MLB Road Show batting cages and video games to the big-time fans among the huge, eclectic mix of acts that Bonnaroo attracts every year.
It’s always fun to watch some of the musicians get in the backstage cage and take their hacks. Some of them actually have pretty good swings, and for some of them it’s tough to get that rock-star hair in a batting helmet.
I had a fun and interesting conversation with Ben Bridwell, the lead singer of Band of Horses, one of the great American rock groups of the last 10 years. After seeing BoH a few years ago in Seattle and hearing him publicly wonder on stage why then-manager Mike Hargrove had just up and quit a few days earlier, I knew he was a fan.
At Bonnaroo, Ben was kind enough to meet me in the media area mere minutes before his band played a sterling Sunday sunset set to close out the weekend on the “Which Stage,” which is the second-largest stage on the grounds. I found this decent-quality clip of them playing a sped-up, more countrified version of “Window Blues,” the final track off their last album, “Cease to Begin.”
So Ben told me he’s been a baseball fan since he played Little League and American Legion ball while growing up in South Carolina and that he became a Mariners fan when he moved to Seattle in the late 1990s. He still follows the M’s on MLB.com as much as he can and said he would absolutely love to someday sing the National Anthem at Safeco Field, his favorite ballpark. I told him I’d see if I can pull some strings.
Anyway, watching from the side of the stage as Bridwell and his Horses executed 90 flawless minutes of rock was none other than The Boss, Mr. Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen had headlined the whole festival the previous night, singing his signature baseball-inspired song, “Glory Days,” before closing out a nearly three-hour set with “Dancing In The Dark,” and he and Bridwell exchanged pleasantries, according to this photo, taken from the blog on BoH’s site.
Then, long after Bridwell and the boys had bid adieu to the Which Stage, Bruce resurfaced during Phish’s festival-closing performance and jammed out another version of “Glory Days.” In the immortal words of Robert Hunter, “Tennessee, Tennessee, there ain’t no place I’d rather be/Baby won’t you carry me … back to Tennessee.”
In 2010, of course.