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Bonnaroo Day 4: From Kacey Musgraves to Tom Petty

Other performers included Sam Bush and Del McCoury.

Kacey Musgraves onstage at Bonnaroo on June 16, 2013
photo by Chris Allen/Country Weekly

Energy levels of the crowds were perhaps beginning to wane by Bonnaroo’s final day of entertainment Sunday, June 16. Out-of-towners running low on sleep were beginning to pack up their campsites and prepare for the long ride home.

But there was still plenty more to see.

Getting the day underway at Which Stage was the talented country singer Kacey Musgraves, who drew an enthusiastic crowd despite the oppressive heat at noon.

She opened with “The Trailer Song,” a classic country-sounding tune not found on her album Same Trailer Different Park. Like much of her material, it had some really funny lines about gossip and petty grievances between trailer park neighbors. Her follow-up song was the new single, “Blowin’ Smoke.” There was indeed quite a bit of smoke lingering in the air, and we’re not talking about the cigarette variety.

It was Kacey’s first Bonnaroo performance, though she sheepishly admitted that she had once snuck in to the festival years before. “I got to see Nine Inch Nails,” she said, giggling. “But I don’t really remember a lot of it.”

Her set also included her Miranda Lambert cut “Mama’s Broken Heart,” as well as “Silver Lining,” “Back on the Map,” “Keep It to Yourself” and, of course, “Merry Go ’Round.”

For “Step Off,” Kacey and the band switched up the second verse to give the song a more upbeat reggae feel, and it morphed into a chorus of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.” For good measure, Kacey also tossed in choice covers of Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally” and Weezer’s “Island in the Sun.”

She wrapped up her set with the wonderful “Follow Your Arrow,” convincing the crowd to add the “heys” and “yups” in the chorus. Overall, it was a commanding performance and convincing evidence that Kacey belongs among the artists at Bonnaroo just as well as she does among those at CMA Music Festival.

During the midday, it was a variety of different performers, from breakout hip-hop stars Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, to soul revivalist Lee Fields, to Southern heavy metal outfit Baroness.

Comedian and actor Ed Helms got to curate the lineup for the Bluegrass Situation at That Tent, which included Aoife O’Donovan, John Fullbright, Black Prairie, Noam Pikelny & Friends and Sam Bush jamming with Del McCoury.

(From left) Del McCoury, Sam Bush and Coffee County, Tenn., mayor David Pennington
photo by Chris Allen/Country Weekly

Crowds turned out in droves to see the two master bluegrass pickers show off their skills. But before they began playing, Coffee County, Tenn., mayor David Pennington and Manchester, Tenn., mayor Lonnie Norman made a special presentation to Sam and Del for their outstanding musical achievements and bestowed them both with keys to the city and county.

”We’d be glad to split the key, but it looks like we can both have one, Del,” quipped Sam as he shared his gratitude.

As the setting sun peeked through some ominous-looking storm clouds, the pair zipped through Bill Monroe’s “Heavy Traffic Ahead” and classics like “Ole Slew Foot,” and “Hang Your Head in Shame.” They also reprised U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love),” which Del recorded with Dierks Bentley for Dierks’ Up on the Ridge album.

“What an incredible variety of music these people bring you,” noted Del. “We are incredibly proud to be a part of that.” He wasn’t exaggerating, considering that at that moment crowds were also checking out psych-rock revivalists Tame Impala and brutal noisemongers Swans on nearby Bonnaroo stages.

The Lonesome Trio (from left) Jacob Tilove, Ian Riggs and Ed Helms
photo by Chris Allen/Country Weekly

The grass stayed blue for comedian Ed Helms’ Bluegrass Situation Superjam. The star of The Hangover and The Office proved himself an adept singer and musician, along with his band The Lonesome Trio. Guests included the Punch Brothers’ Chris Eldrige, Chris Stapleton, fiddler Luke Bulla and Sam and Del.

The evening’s main event was Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, who rocked the huge What Stage for the remaining thousands as some much needed rains fell on the dusty farm.

What an experience for CW to be there, and what a thrill to see country performers so enthusiastically embraced among a really diverse artist lineup.

Now, if you need us, we’ll be sleeping for the next week.