Southern rock met Southern soul and caught on fire on the Which stage Saturday afternoon in a sweaty, soulful set by Booker T. Jones and by the Drive-By Truckers, who leapt into their backing-band role with a smooth ease, except when they took the lead, when they blew the roof off the place.
Billed as "Booker T. and the DBTs," Jones and company delivered tracks from his new "Potato Hole," his first solo record in 15 years and one full of soul-drenched instrumentals. "Native New Yorker" and "Pound It Out" took care of the head-nodding rock; "She Breaks" was all subtle, sweet melody that Jones dedicated to the women in the crowd.
But the Truckers can't be contained, and the set left space for fire-breathing DBT selections like Patterson Hood's Molly Hatchet-referencing teenage biography "Let There Be Rock," which actually never gets old, ever; the Mike Cooley-led "Zip City" and the Shonna Tucker-sung "Home Field Advantage." But it was the set-closing one-two punch of "Hey Ya" (which the crowd recognized in a very pleasing wave, and quickly issued its approval) and "I Can't Turn You Loose," from the days when Jones and DBT frontman Patterson Hood's father, David, were turned loose on the Muscle Shoals soul scene. Circle of life. - Jeff Vrabel
There are over 125 acts playing at Bonnaroo this year. Trying to
navigate the overload? Billboard picked ten sets to take you from
Friday through Sunday night and give you the most band for your buck
without passing out from trying to race from one stage to the next.
Just start with number one as we count you through the weekend, and
preview the tunes you might hear along the way.
5. Booker T and the Drive-By Truckers Saturday 2.30-4 pm Which Stage | Full Schedule
For "Potato Hole," his first solo album in decades, legendary Stax-Volt soul man Booker T. Jones traveled a different kind of Southern-music road entirely, enlisting the ferocious Athens, Ga.-based Drive-By Truckers to serve as backing band for ten instrumental tracks that showcase his fluttery, utterly American B3 work (including a shimmering, potent take on "Hey Ya"). The Truckers' punch is on full display, but this is a Booker T. set, with the DBTs serving as a backup band - one that, according to Patterson Hood, even dresses up nice. Hood also performs a set at 2:15 Friday on the Sonic Stage with his new side band, the Screwtopians, behind his excellent new "Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs). -Jeff Vrabel