While Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival this weekend, DJ/producer/saxophone master GRiZ offered two very different sets. Both showcased his energetic sax playing, but one saw him as the conductor of the dozens of artists he brought together for the festival’s annual SuperJam event.
This year’s late-night jam session, which is hosted and performed by a different artist each year, was titled “GOAT: A Celebration of Music Legends SuperJam with GRiZ.” The 90-minute set was dedicated to music’s big names, including past GRAMMY winners Dr. John, Aretha Franklin, david bowie and Prince, GRAMMY nominees mac miller and Nipsey Hussle, and others. A powerful house band and special guests, all chosen by GRiZ, filled the stage and brought the music to life.
rolling stone reports that Dr John’s tribute, which took the form of his 1973 song “Right Place, Wrong Time”, with GRiZ assisting the house band on his sax, made it onto the set list, after his sudden death June 6. They spoke to GRiZ and Stu Brooks, SuperJam’s music director, who worked on the program for five months, curating its music and its plethora of incredibly talented musicians. The couple stressed that it was important for both of them to incorporate Dr. John’s magic into the performance.
As the outlet explains, not only does the name of the festival come from the 1974 album by Dr John Detively Bonnaroo, but Brooks performed as a member of his touring band in 2015 and GRiZ is deeply influenced by the late New Orleans jazz/funk legend.
Related: New Orleans Music Legend Dr. John Dies at 77
“We obviously had to pay tribute to Dr. John,” Brook said. rolling stone. “It’s a great way to deal with the loss of someone’s life – celebrating at that time [festival], it is fortuitous at most.”
“It’s a really morbid situation to be in,” added GRiZ, “but also kind of a blessed situation — that we had a platform where we were able to celebrate his life.” The Detroit native also explained how Dr. John’s cheerfully experimental music inspired his own risk-taking sound and style:
“His writing style – without it I wouldn’t exist. There’s this badassery about it. His breaking rules paved the way for people like me to do similar things with music…That stuff’ free and easy’ – that makes me feel like I don’t have to worry about how my heart feels about this music and how it should sound.”
A simple yet poignant piece of wisdom Dr. John shared with Brooks during their tour together, “Be Free and Easy,” served as the thesis statement for the sprawling ensemble. “I feel like that’s the philosophy of this whole SuperJam,” added GRiZ.
Rapper/host ProbCause, regular GRiZ collaborator and singer Chrishira Perrier, backing vocalist for Trombone shorts and GRiZ, were two members of his house band SuperJam who helped bring the show to life, as well as a stage full of instrumentalists that included the naughty teacherit is horns.
Perrier helped lead the salute of Franklin, Prince and Rick James and Miller with respectively “Respect”, “1999” with the help of K. Flay, “Mary Jane” and “Dang!”, supported by ProbCause. Prob also rapped “Grinding All My Love” for Nipsey, and K. Flay channeled his inner- kurt cobain for NirvanaIt’s “Lithium”. Activist singer-songwriters Nahko Bear and Nattali Rize sang Bob Marley“Could you be loved.”
AviciiBowie’s “Wake Me Up” was also on the 25-song set list, along with Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”. Queen“We Will Rock You”, in honor of Freddie Mercury, as well as their collaboration “Under Pressure”. walk the moon frontman Nicholas Petricca helped lead the glam-rock classics.
While the loss of Dr. John and the other transcendent musicians has left a void in our hearts and in the music world, their powerful music will allow their legacy to live on for generations. As GRiZ told the outlet, the power to perform the songs was palpable:
“Every time we get a star singer or a star [musician who played with the artist we cover], the energy explodes. You can close your eyes at that moment and feel like you’re in the presence of that person performing that song.”
GRiZ talks about pride, collaborating with Snoop Dogg, the Detroit music scene, giving back and more