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But Bonnaroo isn’t dominated by jam bands anymore

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But Bonnaroo isn’t dominated by jam bands anymore 
BonnarooThe crowd cools down in the Centeroo fountain on Thursday eveningat the Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tenn. (Christopher Berkey for The New York Times)

Another June, another Bonnaroo festival, and I’m headed back to that big rolling hay pasture in Manchester, Tenn. with its natural amphitheaters, tent stages and tie-dyed diehards. Bonnaroo still has its original core of jam bands and rootsy Americana–it ends on Sunday with a Widespread Panic marathon, and the Dead’s Phil Lesh and Friends are booked for the wee hours of Saturday night/Sunday morning.

But Bonnaroo isn’t dominated by jam bands anymore. This year’s headliners are Pearl Jam–who have been running their career like jam band road warriors, but keeping their songs taut–and none other than Metallica.

Playing opposite Mr. Lesh are the epic Icelandic band Sigur Ros and, at 2:45 a.m., Kanye West. There’s indie and indie-nurtured rock from Vampire Weekend tonight, Iron & Wine on Saturday, Rogue Wave and Death Cab for Cutie on Sunday. There’s old-school soul from Solomon Burke on Sunday and definitive blues from B.B. King on Saturday, and I’m definitely not going to miss the Senegalese band Orchestra Baobab.

One stage will present three-and-a-half full days of New Orleans music, including the city’s best younger-generation funk band, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, the raunch-loving Morning 40 Foundation and one of the city’s whooping, belting, two-fisted local piano legends, Henry Butler. And in a juxtaposition likely to take place only at Bonnaroo, the 6:30 segment on Friday presents a choice of Willie Nelson, the buoyantly warped folk-pop of Rilo Kiley and the rebellious dancehall party tunes of M.I.A. I’m going to try and sample all of them.

I’ve been to Bonnaroo for the last few years, and by now I know which is the Which stage and which is the What, along with the relative locations of the This, That and The Other tents. But this year The New York Times has also added a wildcard to the Bonnaroo blog: David Carr, the Carpetbagger, who’s temporarily left behind Hollywood for his first Bonnaroo experience. Can it be stranger than Oscar parties? We’ll see.

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