This past year's Rock and Soul Superjam at Bonnaroo was arguably its best ever. Bonnaroo festival coordinators seem to find a way to out do themselves year in and year out. The 2012 Bonnaroo Superjam set the bar high with ?uestlove (of the Roots) bringing along D'Angelo, who made his first US appearance in nearly 12 years. 2012 Roo goers were left wondering how could Bonnaroo out do itself again next year?
Well for starters, 2013's Bonnaroo had three separate Superjams which tackled nearly the entire musical spectrum including blue-grass, hip-hop, soul, rock and funk. Of the this past year's three Superjams, one in particular stood out- Jim James and John Oates' Rock and Soul Superjam. The Jim James and John Oates coordinated Superjam was easily one of the best shows of this past year's Bonnaroo, which is saying lot when Ed Helms (The Office, The Hangover) and The RZA (Wu-Tang Clan) are also running Superjams of their own. Jim James might as well be nicknamed "Mr. Bonnaroo," because that's what he has become. My Morning Jacket has grown and became the entity that it is now through their performances at Bonnaroo. This year James was performing a solo set at the farm to promote his solo album, Regions Of Light And Sound Of God. More importantly, Jim James collaborated with fellow funk and soul music aficionado John Oates on a Superjam.
James and Oates recruited the famous percussionists Zigaboo Modeliste (of the Meters) and Cyro Baptista, fellow My Morning Jack guitarist Carl Broemel, Bilal, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Larry Graham (Sly & The Family Stone, Graham Central Station). There were also special appearances from Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes), R. Kelly, and Billy Idol for the Rock and Soul Superjam. For those who who do not know, Bonnaroo goers had to pretty much skip sets by both R. Kelly and Billy Idol in order to see the entire Rock and Soul Superjam (a decision I, too, made). That being said, the guest appearances by the two iconic singers were a welcomed surprise and reward to those who chose to miss the two sets. The performance included covers of "Use Me," "1999", and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)" to just name a few.
For those who were fortunate enough to see this star-studded performance it was a two and a half hour period of pure musical ecstasy. Needless to say, Jim James proved to Bonnaroovians once again that he can pull out all the stops. Jim James commented on the performance in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, "You just kind of walk off from that. . . literally feeling like you just won the Super Bowl or something because it was such a battle. The whole thing was such a f**king battle. . . there's so much involved in trying to make it work. And then when it actually does work, you really just feel so victorious."
Bonnaroo 365 has released the first of an eight-part series covering Rock and Soul Superjam. The first video includes footage of the cover of John Lennon's "Instant Karma." You can watch the video below.