Mike Doughty, Shooter Jennings Strum the Day Away
The early part of a hungover Sunday is a fitting time slot for the rootsy sounds of an ex-Soul Coughing frontman and Waylon Jennings' son.
Welcome to Sunday afternoon of Bonnaroo. Just as any other lazy weekend morning, fans like to wake up slow and ease into the day, especially after recovering from the infamously raucous late night performances on Saturday.
There was no man better to facilitate this welcome transition than Mike Doughty and his band. Both the music and weather were breezy, and the comfortable and temperate crowd in This Tent welcomed Doughty. His sound was energetic, yet genuine and organic, backed by a standing bass, drums, and Hammond organ. Their chemistry drew loud, long, appreciative cheers from fans young and old, even including girls sporting purple athletic shorts with Doughty’s song title, “Tremendous Brunettes,” sprawled across the back. His signature voice and rhythmic, poetic lyrics drifted over the crowd consistently. A highlight of the set came as the ex-Soul Coughing frontman began an acoustic solo set and played the song “Bells” from his newest release, Haughty Melodic. The uniqueness of his steel-plated acoustic guitar’s deep mandolin sound accompanied the incessantly catchy hook of the song. Doughty’s performance was certainly “ringing joyful and triumphantly,” as the song goes, among audience members in the sunshine.
Across the grounds, Shooter Jennings made his Bonnaroo debut on Father’s Day — and he has definitely done Papa Waylon proud. Jennings was welcomed with great enthusiasm and dedication from his fans and passersby alike. Considering the festival’s penchant for showcasing artists of every genre possible, Jennings’ performance was especially notable as music in the vein of classic renegade country had yet to be explored. The audience spanned generations — a seemingly fitting family affair all around — and his classic Southern sound was right at home in the middle of Tennessee. Jennings wasn’t so much a reincarnation of his legendary father, but a younger and notable reinvention of country and blues, palatable for diverse spans of people. His perpetuation of classic rock, impassioned blues, and bluegrass romp made the day just a little sweeter as Bonnaroo’s closing neared. SAMANTHA PROMISLOFF