By Nikole Dugger
MANCHESTER, Tenn. —; Gumbo may join hot dogs and hamburgers on campsite menus for this weekend’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
From performances by Dr. John and the Neville Brothers to an entire tent devoted to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the appetite for all things Big Easy is swelling in Coffee County.
“We’ve always included elements of the New Orleans tradition, but it’s definitely turned up a notch this year —; somewhat because of (Hurricane) Katrina,” said Ashley Capps, founder of AC Entertainment.
Brian McColgan, a New Orleans resident, said it would be more surprising to find no influence from his hometown at Bonnaroo.
Considering that the festival boasts a name derived from Dr. John’s 1974 album, “Desitively Bonnaroo,” and that its organizers hail from Cajun country, the extra emphasis should not be unexpected, some said.
“New Orleans is rich in musical tradition, and a lot of people may or may not have been introduced to it,” said Robert Thompson, professor of popular culture at Syracuse University. “Bonnaroo is a good way to do this.”
Though he acknowledges possible problems with introducing a mass audience to a certain culture, Dr. Thompson said they do not apply to Bonnaroo.
“There are ways in which cultures have been exploited as mass entertainment, but in this case, it appears to be purely celebration,” he said.
The professor said New Orleans conjures powerful imagery, even for those who have never crossed into its city limits, and such mental pictures carry over to its music.
“There are two types of people: those who know a lot of the music and like it and those who don’t know it, but hear it and like it,” Dr. Thompson said.
Mr. Capps said that although organizers are always rethinking the festival, there will be a New Orleans presence for the foreseeable future.
“It’s great to be celebrating New Orleans like this, at a time it needs to be,” he said.
On the safety front, Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves said that things have been “pretty quiet so far.”
As of Friday afternoon, Mr. Graves said, 28 people had been arrested for offenses ranging from disturbing the peace to automobile vandalism and drugs, though he said most arrests were drug-related.
“We’re finding less drugs than last year and in smaller quantities,” he said.
As the event continues, Mr. Graves said he does not expect the tranquility to last.
“It’ll pick up tonight (Friday),” he said.
E-mail Nikole Dugger at firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff Photo by Ashlie White
Fans crowd the Which Stage venue to see Ben Folds perform on Friday afternoon. Bands play at 11 venues around the festival site beginning at noon and ending at 3 a.m.