Nashville connections remain plentiful on Bonnaroo stages

Photo courtesy of Creature Comfort 

Story by Sarah Grace Taylor / MTSU Seigenthaler News Service

MANCHESTER, Tenn. — Every June for the past 16 years, artists and fans have come to Tennessee from all across the country for the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and, unsurprisingly, Music City has had an integral role in both the fan base and the lineup.

This year is no exception, with about 20 Nashville-based acts and artists set to play stages throughout the weekend.

Big names such as country stars Martina McBride, Margo Price and alternative rock kingpins Cage the Elephant will play the festival alongside up-and-coming Nashville artists such as COIN and Nightly.

On Thursday’s opening day of the festival, transplanted Asheville, N.C. singer-songwriter Luke Combs kicked off the local performances in true Nashville style with country of course, immediately followed by modern rocker Welles, who showed the city’s diversity with his unique brand of alternative rock.

On Saturday, local indie rock band Creature Comfort, winners of the 2017 Road to Roo battle of the bands, will play Bonnaroo for their first time.

“For any Nashville artist, I think Bonnaroo is one of the biggest dreams,” said drummer Taylor Cole in an interview from the press area Thursday. “I mean, I guess it’s really a dream for any musician anymore.”

For the six-year-old band, the road to Roo wasn’t an easy one. Cole called the four-show, bracket-style band competition in local nightclubs the “single hardest thing we’ve ever done.”

“We stopped working on our album so we could practice, and we worked incredibly hard,” the drummer said. “Man, it was worth it.”

Lead singer Jessey Clark, now at his ninth Bonnaroo, has sought after this performance since he was 17 years old.

“Usually every year on Sunday, I would watch the last artist on the Which Stage and I would leave feeling empowered but kind of melancholy, because I would think, ‘I could do this; I really want this,’ but it seemed so far away,” Clark said in a Thursday interview. “I’m speechless, and I’ll honestly probably cry on stage if it ever sinks in.”

Amid the disbelief of just being here to perform, Clark says there is a community among the Nashville artists.

“We love Margo Price every time we get to see her, and we’ve actually played with COIN in Nashville,” Clark said. “We’ve played (nightclubs) Mercy Lounge, Exit/in and basically everywhere in Nashville, but it’s cool to be at our first major festival playing with local artists and artists from all around. But (it’s) being able to invite our friends and everyone we know, because it’s basically in our backyard.”

The support for local musicians from Nashville attendees was evidenced Thursday night at Welles’ show, which was attended by groups of fans clad in Predators gear, who later surrounded the Which Stage to watch Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final Playoffs.

Below is a schedule of Nashville-based artists slated to play the remainder of the festival:


Friday 4:45 p.m.

New Music On Tap Lounge


Friday 7:45 p.m.
Who Stage

Saturday 2 p.m.
Which Stage

Reuben Bidez
Saturday 2 p.m.
Who Stage

Creature Comfort
Saturday 2:45 p.m.
New Music On Tap Lounge


5:45 p.m. Saturday

Who Stage


Cage the Elephant
Saturday 10 p.m.
Which Stage

Margo Price
Part of Superjam
Saturday/Sunday 1 a.m.
This Tent

Margo Price
Sunday 3:15 p.m.
Which Stage

Backup Planet

12:45 p.m. Sunday

New Music On Tap Lounge

Sunday 1:30 p.m.
Which Stage


Case Bloom

3 p.m. Sunday

The Other


Jason Huber

4:15 p.m. Sunday

The Other

Aaron Lee Tasjan
Sunday 3:15 p.m.
That Tent

Tucker Beathard

5:15 p.m. Sunday

Who Stage

The Bluegrass Situation Roots Superjam
Sunday 9:15 p.m.
That Tent
With: Martina McBride, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Bryan Sutton Band, Lillie Mae


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