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LIVE FROM BONNAROO 2003
270 MILES FROM GRACELAND: BONNAROO 2003
(Sanctuary/Superfly)
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If thereís one place where jam nation meets, itís under the skies of Bonnaroo, the three-day June music festival that celebrated its second year in Manchester, Tennessee. Whatís good about both the two-disc CD and its DVD counterpart, 270 Miles from Graceland, is that they show how much the listening tastes of the ardent music fans who congregate under the floppy umbrella of "jam" have broadened since the days when the Dead, Phish, Widespread Panic, and their lesser followers were the exclusive menu. Although the Dead (drab) and Panic (quite good) appear, Sonic Youth, James Brown, Ben Harper, Ben Kweller, My Morning Jacket, the Roots, Galactic, and many more are also aboard. The Allman Brothers and a few other artists perform different songs on the CD and the DVD ó in their case, a stellar "Desdemona" punctuated by guitarist Derek Trucksís brilliant slide on the DVD and a solid "High Cost of Low Living" on the CD. Likewise, Sonic Youthís "A Bull in the Heather" on the DVD outshines their rote audio-only "She Is Not Alone." Govít Mule guitarist Warren Haynes distinguishes himself on both formats, with sweet-voiced acoustic versions of "The Real Thing" and "Beautifully Broken." But itís a drag that Emmylou Harris was skipped by film director Danny Clinch in favor of dull executions (as in, the murder of songs) by Jack Johnson, Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon, and Kweller. And who ó besides maybe a high-school cast of Godspell ó wants to hear ersatz musical-theater bullshit like the Polyphonic Spree, let alone watch it? This audio-and-video package is an ambitious project that could have benefitted from editing.

BY TED DROZDOWSKI


Issue Date: December 26, 2003 - January 1, 2004
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