Forty-eight hours ago, Ilo Ferreira was sitting in a Cape Verde customs office endeavoring to get on a plane; by noon on Saturday he was onstage next to Jimmy Buffettm making his live debut to help open a baking, sweaty Saturday at Bonnaroo.
Buffett was the last big-ticket addition to the fest; originally the appearance was billed as "Ilo and the Coral Reefer All-Stars," but Buffett and his usual band (the All-Stars were basically the Coral Reefers in full) delivered a half-size version of the summertime house party that travels the land every summer: "Fins," "Margaritaville," "Son of a Son of a Sailor," et al.
But Ilo's a mighty good find, and a mighty good story. Pretty much every six-string player in the country dreams of Buffett walking in, discovering his raw talent and deciding to help bring it to the masses; this happened to Ilo two years ago, when Buffett, Chris Blackwell and Bill Flanagan (no, really, they were on a "music holiday") ambled into a bar in Mali where Ilo was performing. "We said, 'This kid's got it,'" Buffett said at a press conference later Saturday. "And we thought, 'Let's see if we can help."
As Billboard makes its way to this weekend's Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tenn., a last-minute addition to the lineup is getting parrotheads across the region all aflutter with excitement. Island-music kingpin Jimmy Buffett will make a special appearance with his protege Ilo and his backing band the Coral Reefer Allstars Saturday at noon on the festival's Which Stage.
A native of Cape Verde, Ilo was discovered by Buffett on a trip to the West African island, and brought over to the U.S. as a featured performer in Buffett's show. Now his Bonnaroo debut will be made all the more special with the addition of the Coral Reefer ringmaster, who's bound to entice thousands of concertgoers to make "limes and salt" a last-minute addition to their packing lists. --Troy Carpenter