This weekend marks the fifteenth annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, the perennial four-day blowout that transforms a 700 acre farm into the sixth largest city in the state of Tennessee. There’s never a lack of options--at any given time, there are as many as ten stages of music going, plus comedy, cinema, and even educational offerings. This year features Pearl Jam’s high-profile return to the Farm following a legendary 2008 headlining set, plus the reunited LCD Soundsystem, and the new project Dead & Company which includes members of the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers Band, and guitarist John Mayer. Keep an eye on CincyMusic.com social media all weekend for live coverage, plus our review early next week, but for now take a look at some Bonnaroo picks who you might’ve missed on your schedule:
Roman Gianarthur, The Other Tent 4:15 PM Thursday
Gianarthur is part of Janelle Monae’s Wondaland Arts Collective, and has worked on her records as well as those of “Classic Man” singer Jidenna. He’s a rising star who’s been singled out by Rolling Stone as “A secret late-night Radiohead jam at Paisley Park” and should get your weekend off on the right foot.
Lizzo, That Tent, 11:00 PM Thursday
This Minneapolis rapper runs in the same circles as Atmosphere and Bon Iver, and appeared at the latter’s Eaux Claires festival last summer. She’s got a quick tongue and a wicked sense of humor, and should keep your Thursday night party going strong.
Dungen, The Other Tent, 2:15 PM Friday
These Swedish pysch-rock weirdos graced the Bonnaroo stage a full decade ago, but now they’re back with tunes from last years Allas Sak, their best work in years.
Amanda Shires, New Music On Tap Lounge, 5:30 Friday
Violinist Amanda Shires has one of the finest voices in music, which she lends both to her solo work and that of her husband Jason Isbell, with whom she will presumably appear on the much-larger What Stage on Sunday. She’s performed with the likes of John Prine as well, but her songs have a magic of their own.
Dylan LeBlanc, Who Stage, 1:45 PM Saturday
Louisiana songwriter LeBlanc, who just released his third LP Cautionary Tale, is an insightful, expressive voice with an echo of Ryan Adams. Here’s hoping he’s on the big stages soon.
Natalie Prass, That Tent, 3:30 PM Saturday
Natalie Prass’s self-titled debut, recorded years ago at Matthew E. White’s Richmond, VA studios but only released last year, is a strange, mystical thing, with the chanteuse weaving heartache and longing through irresistible melodies.
Steve Gunn, This Tent, 5:30 PM Saturday
Steve Gunn, a former Violator with Kurt Vile, has charged off on his own with an incredible solo career. Over the last year, he’s toured with the likes of Wilco, but his recent Eyes on the Lines LP should shoot him off into his own stratosphere.
John Moreland, That Tent, 12:30 PM Sunday
Tulsa songwriter John Moreland writes tender country-tinged songs and sings them with a voice almost too rich to believe. He kicks off the Bluegrass Tent on Sunday, and will come back around at the Bluegrass Superjam that closes it out.
Sara Watkins, That Tent, 1:45 PM Sunday
Sara Watkins was a member of the incredible progressive bluegrass trio Nickel Creek, and she’s a regular guest on public radio stalwart A Prairie Home Companion.
Cymande, Which Stage, 1:45 PM Sunday
One of the wildest bookings of the weekend, this British funk group recently reconvened after four decades off. You’ll surely be dragging as your start your last afternoon in the sun, but this crew will get you up and grooving again.