Kenny Rogers & Phish Bonnaroo 2012

It almost seems that Kenny Rogers squeezed a lifetime of work into one fantastic week.

On Saturday June 9th, Kenny Rogers performed four songs to a sold out crowd at LP Field as part of the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tenn.  Following his performance there Kenny headed down to Manchester, Tenn., for the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on Sunday.  He was the only artist to play both events this year.

At Bonnaroo, Kenny played to a huge audience in the afternoon and was joined by his longtime friend Lionel Richie on stage as a surprise guest for “Lady.”  Later that evening, Rogers joined Phish on stage in front of 70,000 fans during the closing set of the festival to perform “The Gambler.”  During Bonnaroo he was showered with love and chants of “Kenny! Kenny!”  The day after, the assembled media proclaimed their excitement about his performances as well.

Lionel Richie & Kenny Rogers

“Spellbinding…Breathtaking…One of the 10 Best Performances of Bonnaroo 2012…” said Billboard Magazine about Kenny’s set.

“The country star fit in beautifully (at Bonnaroo), delivering crisp versions of hits like ‘Love Or Something Like It’ and ‘Islands In The Stream’…He belongs…” raved SPIN.

And finally, on June 14th, Kenny performed “The Gambler” in honor of his old pal, Don Schlitz, who wrote the song, at the 43rd annual Songwriters Hall Of Fame induction ceremony in New York City.  Schlitz, who has penned several timeless hits, was one of the distinguished songwriters to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame this year.

Kenny’s World Tour rolls on with more U.S. dates, a tour of Australia and New Zealand and now dates in Asia as well.  He’s also putting the finishing touches on his first autobiography, Luck Or Something Like It, scheduled for an October 2nd release by HarperCollins. Jam-packed with fascinating stories from life on and off the stage, it’s bound to be one of the most talked about books this year.

Later this summer, he’ll enter the studio to begin recording a brand new album for Warner Bros. Records with producer Dann Huff (Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban).  The award-winning Huff previously worked with Kenny on 2006’s Water & Bridges.

Looking at video of the Kenny Rogers / Phish performance, this appears to be the outside-the-box moment of Bonnaroo 2012. Phish is always daring to go where no jam band has gone.

Kenny Rogers was a crossover Artist when the term was not widely used, going from the Pop Rock group The First Edition, that had its own syndicated show back in the early 70’s to becoming a Country Legend.

Kenny seems to love to take on a non-typical crowd, a few years ago, I saw him at the Kansas City Bicentennial at The Kansas City Chiefs Stadium playing to a sold out crowd that was hosted by Walter Cronkite and also featured Little Richard on the same bill.

I for one enjoy the fact that the great music festivals today mix in the best classic rock and other stuff in with  the most current breaking acts. This was the same thing that Bill Graham did in the days of The Fillmore booking acts like Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters opening for the Jefferson Airplane or The Grateful Dead. It shows continuity, when it comes down to it, a great song is a great song. As a voice and persona, Kenny Rogers is an icon.

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN