GRiZ & friends at SuperJam
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GRiZ & Friends Honored Dr. John And Other Music Legends During Bonnaroo SuperJam Set
During Bonnaroo Music & 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 bandleader of the dozens of performers he brought together for the fest's annual SuperJam event.
This year's late-night jam session, which is curated and executed by a different artist every year, was titled "G.O.A.T.: A Celebration of Music Legends SuperJam with GRiZ." The 90-minute set was dedicated to late musical greats including late GRAMMY winners Dr. John, Aretha Franklin, David Bowie and Prince, GRAMMY nominees Mac Miller and Nipsey Hussle, and others. A powerhouse house band and specials guests, all chosen by GRiZ, filled the stage and brought the music to life.
— GRiZ (@Griz) June 6, 2019
Rolling Stone reports that the Dr. John tribute, which came in the form of his 1973 song "Right Place, Wrong Time," with GRiZ assisting the house band on his sax, was worked into the set list, following his sudden passing on June 6. They spoke to GRiZ and Stu Brooks, SuperJam's Music Director, who worked on the program for five months, organizing its music and plethora of incredibly talented musicians. The pair emphasized it was important to both of them to work Dr. John's magic into the performance.
As the outlet explains, not only does the festival's name comes from Dr. John's 1974 album Desitively Bonnaroo, but Brooks performed as member of his touring band in 2015 and GRiZ is deeply influenced by the late New Orleans' jazz/funk legend.
"We obviously had to pay tribute to Dr. John," Brook's told Rolling Stone. "It's a great way to process loss of someone's life—by celebrating at this [festival], it's serendipitous to the max."
"It's a really morbid situation to be in," GRiZ added, "but also kind of a blessed situation—that we had a platform that we were able to celebrate his life." The Detroit-native also spoke to how Dr. John's joyously experimental music inspired his own risk-taking in his sound and style:
"His style of writing—without that I wouldn't exist. There's this badassery to it. His breaking rules paved the way for people like myself to do similar things with music…That 'free and easy' thing—that makes me feel like I don't have to be worried about what my heart feels about this music and the way it should sound."
One simple yet poignant piece of wisdom Dr. John shared with Brooks during their time touring together, "Be free and easy," served as the thesis statement for the sprawling set. "I feel like that's the ethos of this entire SuperJam," GRiZ added.
Rapper/animator ProbCause, a regular GRiZ collaborator, and singer Chrishira Perrier, a backing vocalist for Trombone Shorty and GRiZ, were two members of his SuperJam house band who helped bring the show to life, along with a stage full of instrumentalists that included the Naughty Professor's horns.
Perrier helped lead the salute the Franklin, Prince and Rick James and Miller with respectively, "Respect," "1999" with help from K.Flay, "Mary Jane" and "Dang!," which ProbCause supported. Prob also rapped "Grinding All My Love" for Nipsey, and K.Flay channeled her inner- Kurt Cobain for Nirvana's "Lithium." Activist singer/songwriters Nahko Bear and Nattali Rize sang Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved."
Avicii's "Wake Me Up" was also on the 25-song set list, as well as Bowie's "Let's Dance," Queen's "We Will Rock You," in honor of Freddie Mercury, as well as their collab "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 of performing the songs was palpable:
"Every time we get a featured vocalist or a featured [musician who played with the artist we cover], the energy explodes. You can close your eyes in that moment and feel like you're in the presence of that person performing that song."