Review + Photos by L Paul Mann
June 10, 2017 | Manchester, TN – One of the unique aspects of the Bonnaroo music festival is the much anticipated Superjam. The legendary jam has seen some of the most interesting mashups in modern music history over the years, some more than successful than others. Occasionally the sessions have gone on into the first rays of sunshine of the following morning.
Superjam 2017 happened to be one of the shortest jams coming in at just over 90 minutes. However, for what the set lacked in length it more than compensated for with sheer brilliant jam music. This year’s jam was anchored by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The New Orleans funk masters, who at an earlier performance at the festival had received the keys to the nearby town of Manchester from the mayor, were joined by George Porter Jr. Ask most anyone from New Orleans, and they will tell you Porter is simply the best bass player in contemporary music. Singer and keyboardist Jon Batiste, well known as the band leader on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, rounded out the core group. The group opened the first of 13 songs in the set with a funky “Bourbon Street” crazed dance tune C+C Music Factory staple “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”
As is customary at Superjam the night unfolded with a series of announced and surprise guest singers and musicians, playing well-known cover songs. This year’s theme was funk-inspired music. Labeled “Soul Shakedown” the set included rousing covers by Jon Batiste, Nicole Atkins, Margo Price, Joseph, Sam Cohen and Jason Huber of Cherub, and female singer Boyfriend. Some highlights included, Boyfriend and her dancers wowing the crowd during Rick James’ “Super Freak” with a mash-up of MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This”). The performance included a sexy dance routine that saw the singer and her dance posse stripping into sleek, sensual outfits. Lukas Nelson, the talented son of Willie Nelson and Margo Price, sang a duet, on Al Green’s “Love and Happiness.” Portland sister trio Joseph brought a beautiful harmonic TLC’s “Waterfalls” to the set. After riveting performances of TLC’s “Waterfalls,” Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” and Rick James’ “Superfreak,” Gospel inspired hip hop artist Lecrae rocked the house with a funky cover of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?”).
But the biggest surprise of the night came when the unofficial Mayor of Bonnaroo Chance The Rapper showed up sending the sweaty crowd into a frenzied response. Earlier in the evening, the Chicago Hip Hop artist with an excellent singing voice had amassed one of the largest crowds of Bonnaroo 2017 for his main stage performance. For many of the several thousand young music fans crammed into This tent for the late night Jam session, this was the moment they had been waiting for. Chance has a beautiful singing voice and an affinity for jazz, paying homage to the veteran musicians on stage. He was joined by nearly the entire Superjam 2017 line up for a funky dance crazed cover of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Nuthin’ but a G Thang,” and segued into Outkast’s “Hey Ya!”. The chorus line included Nicole Atkins, Boyfriend, and Flint Eastwood just to name a few of the backup singers. It was a finale most in the crowd won’t soon forget.
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