The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival already boasted one of the strongest lineups of roots and Americana music among the major music festivals in 2016, with the likes of Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, and Sam Bush making their way to Manchester for the festival. But on Apr. 7th, Bonnaroo upped the ante with the announcement of their Cafe Stage performers, adding Amanda Shires, Sam Outlaw, and more to the lineup.
Bonnaroo’s Cafe Stages are one of the festival’s best kept secrets. Nestled between the massive stages and several thousand capacity “tents” that make up Bonnaroo’s primary musical delivery platforms, the Cafe Stages are intimate spaces, with capacity for a couple hundred patrons at best. It’s a great place to not only get away from the pressing throng of 80,000 people, it’s also a place to see the young acts who may be future main stage performers. In past years, you could have seen The Avett Brothers, Gary Clark, Jr., and Sarah Jarosz on one of these intimate stages.
Like all of Bonnaroo, the Cafe Stage lineup is diverse, but there’s plenty to love for a fan of roots music. On Thursday, June 9th, the abbreviated first day of the festival that is mostly dedicated to young acts across the board, the bulk of Bonnaroo’s current Cafe Stage lineup will be taken up by representatives from Communion Music, who will bring five bands to Bonnaroo, including Oregon trio Joseph and multi-genre singer Doe Paoro, along with regular Cafe Stage performers Mail the Horse and Lael Neale.
Amanda Shires was likely already scheduled to perform on The Farm, as part of husband Jason Isbell’s Sunday set, but now fans of Shires’ solo work can get an opportunity to see her on her own, as she will perform on Friday, June 10th on one of the Cafe Stages. She will be joined on the Friday lineup by Nashville’s Andrew Combs, traditionalist Luke Bell, and Australian raconteur Henry Wagons.
The Cafe Stage roots lineup for Saturday, June 11th, is also strong, headed up by Dylan LeBlanc, who is sure to draw quite a crowd for a Cafe Stage. Also joining the Saturday lineup are Lee Ann Womack’s daughter Aubrie Sellers, London-based songwriter Isaac Gracie, and blues-rockers The Record Company
Bonnaroo’s final day, Sunday, June 12th, was already a conflict nightmare for roots music fans with the day-long Bluegrass Situation Stage, a performance by Jason Isbell, and a rare opportunity to see funk masters Cymande, so fortunately, the roots lineup for the Cafe Stages is relatively light. Performing on Sunday will be country singer Maren Morris, and guitar folk singer Austin Plaine.