We are just 7 weeks/50 days away from the 16th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Yes, we are counting down the days. For the past 15 years, music lovers have traveled from across the nation (and globe) to a small, little-known town called Manchester, Tennessee, just an hour south of Nashville. As a ten-year Bonnaroo veteran, I am often asked why I continue to travel to the middle of Tennessee, during the hottest time of the year. Well, the answer is pretty simple. The lineups. Bonnaroo’s notorious multi-genre lineups.
There is no doubt that for 15 solid years Bonnaroo has reigned supreme when it comes to eclectic lineups that any music lover can enjoy. With over 100 diverse music acts across 13 stages, over the course of four full days, from dusk till dawn, Bonnaroo is like an all-you-can-eat buffet for music connoisseurs.
Over the years, legendary acts like Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Lionel Richie, The BeeGees, and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin have all graced Bonnaroo’s stages.
Major artists such as Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Florence and the Machine, Kanye West, Dave Mattews Band, Mumford and Sons, Skrillex, Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire have also headlined over the years.
This summer, U2 will be playing their first American music festival, playing Joshua Tree in its entirety for its 30th anniversary. Three of the headliners slated to perform took home Best Album of the Year at the 2017 Grammys. Chance the Rapper won Best Rap Album for Coloring Book (as well as Best New Artist & Best Rap Performance for “No Problem”). Flume won Best Dance Electronic Album for Skin. Cage the Elephant won Best Rock Album for Tell Me I’m Pretty. And recent artist addition, 22-year-old multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier won Grammy’s for two songs from his debut album, In My Room. (Jacob is not to be missed, as he plays ten different instruments on stage, by himself, at the same time – on loop, all with a live animation film setup playing on a screen behind him. It’s a sight to behold.) Notable Grammy mentions go to Gallant, who was nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album for Ology, and Tory Lanez was nominated for Best R&B Song “Luv.”
And if those headliners and Grammy winners weren’t enough to convince you to come to The Farm, Bonnaroo is also known for discovering up-and-coming stars, right before they become wildly successful. For example, multi-Grammy winner Adele played back in 2008, before anyone knew who she was.
Now that we know all of the artist additions, and the full lineup is complete, our goal at MusicFestNews is to help fans find their new favorite, undiscovered bands.
For our first round, we’re featuring all of the Folk Rock, Bluegrass & Americana and Country acts in our playlist below: nearly four hours of music, 26 artists, 60 songs, broken up into three categories. (We’ve posted a few videos of the bands we’re most looking forward to.) If you feared your scheduling conflicts were going to be challenging before, after listening to our playlists, we know it’s going to be even harder for you to choose whom to see! We have 50 days to dig in. Let’s go!
FOLK ROCK & FOLK POP:
- James Vincent McMorrow from Dublin Ireland. His earlier work was mostly acoustic Folk and has evolved as an artist over the years, incorporating electric guitar, synthesizers, horns, all with a stunning voice and touching lyrics, (think the Irish Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.)
- Rainbow Kitten Surprise is an Indie-Folk Rock band from Boone, North Carolina, emphasis on Rock. They are similar to Modest Mouse and Kings of Leon. Frontman Sam Melo always gives a high-energy show, and with his unique voice & the rest of the band’s harmonies, this band is distinct all on their own.
- Michael Kiwanuka is a Folk-Soul-Blues artist from Muswell Hill, North London. A blend between old-school Curtis Mayfield and Van Morrison. He is making his return to Great Stage Park, in support of his new album Love & Hate.
- Cloves – Folk Blues Pop singer from Melbourne, Australia. (Think the Australian version of Adele.)
- The Head and The Heart – Indie-Folk Pop band from Seattle, Washington
- Kaleo – Blues Folk band from Mosfellsbær, Iceland
- The Strumbellas – Folk Pop band from Lindsay, Canada
- Mt. Joy – Folk Pop duo from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Ethan Gruska – Folk Pop artist from Los Angeles
AMERICANA – BLUEGRASS:
- River Whyless – New Americana Pop group from Asheville, North Carolina, similar to Blind Pilot and The Oh Hellos.
- Joseph is an Americana Folk Pop group from Portland, Oregon, featuring three sisters on vocals. Similar to First Aid Kit & Lord Huron
- Bluegrass Situation featuring Ed Helms and friends (One of his tracks on Spotify features Preservation Jazz Hall, who will also be playing this Summer)
- Mandolin Orange is an Americana group from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, reminiscent of The Civil Wars & Gillian Welch
- Greensky Bluegrass from Kalamazoo, Michigan
- Sweet Crude is an Americana group from Louisiana.
- Wilderado is an Americana band based in Los Angeles.
- Aaron Lee Tasjan is a Roots Rock-Americana artist from New Albany, Ohio
- Ruen Brothers is an Indie Rockabilly duo from Scunthorpe, England
- Baskery is an all-female Alt-Country, Roots- Rock group from Stockholm, Sweden.
- Cam – Contemporary Country female singer from Lafayette, California
- Tucker Beathard – Modern Country Rock from Nashville, Tennessee
Corey Harper – Country Folk Pop Artist from Portland, Oregon
Luke Combs – Country Rock artist from Nashville, Tennessee
- Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real – is a Roots Rock Alt-Country band from Venice, California. (Lukas is Willie Nelson’s son & we can certainly hear the influence.)
- Margo Price – Contemporary Country Roots Rock singer from Nashville, Tennessee
- LANco – Contemporary Country group based in Nashville, Tennessee