Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Phish and the Beastie Boys will perform at this year's Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival June 11-14 in Manchester, Tenn., as part of a lineup that shows the world-famous music fest continuing to expand its horizons and flaunt its diversity.
They'll be joined by artists as varied as Nine Inch Nails, Snoop Dogg, Merle Haggard and Al Green - artists not only of different genres, but of several generations.
"We've often likened the Bonnaroo programming to an iPod on shuffle," said Ashley Capps, president of Bonnaroo co-producer AC Entertainment. "Our audience has a tremendous appreciation for a wide range of music, and that's one of the things that really defines the Bonnaroo experience."
Tickets go on sale through www.bonnaroo.com at 11 a.m. (Central) Sat., Feb. 7.
(Read more after the list)
Bonnaroo 2009 Initial Lineup (alphabetical by artist)
Band of Horses
Booker T & the DBTs
Zac Brown Band
Coheed and Cambria
Elvis Costello (solo)
Mike Farris and the Roseland Rhythm Revue
Béla Fleck & Toumani Diabate
David Grisman Quintet
Ben Harper and Relentless7
Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3
Robert Earl Keen
King Sunny Adé
Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
The Lovell Sisters
The Low Anthem
The Mars Volta
The Del McCoury Band
Nine Inch Nails
People Under the Stairs
Elvis Perkins In Dearland
Phish (two shows)
Portugal. The Man.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
The Ting Tings
Vieux Farka Touré
TV on the Radio
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Still, for all the diversity in the lineup as a whole, most of the fest's top-billed performers are reliable choices. Capps calls Springsteen, who's known for a spirited, lengthy live set, a "perfect match" for Bonnaroo. Recently reunited jam giants Phish haven't been able to play the festival before, but they've been part of the Bonnaroo family since the beginning. All four members have played at the festival in separate projects, and Capps said the band helped inspire the creation of Bonnaroo.
"Phish's own festivals, and the mere fact that they staged them so successfully, was one of things that led to the creation of Bonnaroo," he said. "A lot of the team that worked with Phish in creating those events were part of the original Bonnaroo team, and many of them continue to be in our core team today."
While Nashville-based rock acts such as Kings of Leon and the Raconteurs have performed on Bonnaroo's main stage in recent years, Music City's main contributions to this year's festival come from the country and Americana worlds. Béla Fleck, Todd Snider, The SteelDrivers and Del McCoury Band are among the local acts set to perform.
McCoury, who's played at two previous Bonnaroos including the first in 2002, recognizes the significance of the event.
"No matter where else we play in the U.S., somebody will come up to us and say, ‘You know, the first time I saw you guys play was at Bonnaroo,' " he said.
"When we got (to the first Bonnaroo), we were supposed to play in a tent. There weren't that many people under the tent, so I thought, ‘Well, there might not be that many people here to come see us.' But once we got on stage, people started coming in from every direction it seemed like, and by the time we got to the end of the show, you couldn't see the end of people out from under the tent. Man, it was loud. We do requests when we do a show, so I asked for requests, and they hollered so loud that I couldn't understand them."
McCoury said the crowd reaction reminded him of the response he would get playing "Rawhide" with Bill Monroe at the Opry in 1963.
"There are real music enthusiasts there, and they enjoy all types of music. That's what makes it great."
Nashville rock/gospel singer-songwriter Mike Farris, who will make his second appearance at Bonnaroo this year, also admires the Bonnaroo audience's acceptance.
"The diversity of the people that came in there to listen to us play (last year), it was just amazing to me," he said. "Every now and then, we'll do shows where we don't really know how they're going to accept our music... I was worried that day, and when we played it was phenomenal. It's just a really accepting crowd, and really anxious to listen to something new. I love that."
Bonnaroo also holds special significance with Farris as an attendee, the singer having grown up in nearby Winchester, Tenn.
"I'm really happy that we've got something like this here at home," he said. "We walked over there to see the Police play (in 2007), and I was thinking, ‘Good lord, Sting is playing on a back road in my hometown.' It's just insane to imagine, being a kid and growing up as a fan."
Now, with 2009 marking the eighth annual Bonnaroo, the festival has become a permanent fixture of Coffee County - particularly since organizers purchased the festival grounds in 2007. While improvements continue to be made, Capps said they might not be obvious to attendees.
"There are so many improvements that we want to make in the infrastructure," he said. "As they progress, a lot of them are initially fairly invisible, but they're really important for what's going to be possible in the coming years. The big change this year is power. In the past, we've had to rely solely on generators. This year, we've installed electrical for all of the core areas of the festival. That's a big step forward in helping us develop the site."
Physical improvements may not be noticed, but Bonnaroo's continuing quest to bring performers from all over the stylistic map together is hard to ignore. McCoury, for one, didn't expect to ever share a bill with Snoop Dogg.
"No, I didn't," he said, laughing. "I think I know who Snoop Dogg is. I think I've seen him on TV. It's crazy, isn't it?"