What was it 1975 or thereabouts that Bonaroo hit the scene. I loved the disc when it first came out and turned all my friends on to it. I was the sort of local experimenter when it came to buying LPs. I think I spent my entire paycheck in those days on LPs. The guy at the record store used to say that if I liked an album he would order more than usual because he knew that in a matter of days people would be coming in to buy it.
The tunes are all decent and pretty much still stand up. Though listening to them today I have to think that what I liked about them was the screaming guitar solos, which aren't really solos as they are just overlaid over the music instead the main focus of a section like a true solo. Listening to songs like "Spirit Of A Dead Man" it seems they are more orchestrated and piano pieces. The format on all the songs seems to be some sort of 1 or 2 bar intro that leads into the fact that a song is starting and in some songs later acts as a bridge (in "Sally Ann", "Nobody Knows" and "I See The Light" it is the rhythm running thru the song), then goes into the vocal section, all ending in the section where the guitars are ripping it up and bringing on the end of the song. "Melody Maker" stands out as one of the songs that have an actual true solo but it still follows this format closing out the song. Songs like "Decided Today" have what could be called truer solos sprinkled throughout the song but they are very formulaic and seem to repeat themselves with slight new extensions. "Sally Ann" and "Nobody Knows" seem to be a mix of both solo type formats (more of a hybrid); it has the short solos and ends with a lengthy solo played over the music and vocals. The music itself, although all good well written and produced stuff, is slightly lame by today's standards. The electric guitar riffs still sizzle and pop in everywhere. They sort of remind me of Paul Cotton's playing on "New Illinois Speed Press" and the Poco albums he played on after leaving NISP and joining "Poco". "Don't Tread On Me" could easily have seamlessly fit into the NISP album. "Spirit Of A Dead Man" and I See The Light" are both devoid of any guitar solos, and almost any notice of guitars at all, coupled with the rocklickin sound of songs like "Don't Tread On Me" makes Bonaroo remind me of the song of the band "Procol Harum" more than any other: that sort of battle between the piano player and the guitar player writters.
So what ever happened to Bonaroo? They hit the scene and disappeared just as quickly.
I personally believe that Hot Tuna killed Bonaroo! Dead as a door knob! The reason I say this is that on one of Tuna's Northeast tours Bonaroo was the opening act. Being a fan of both I was excited. The hard core Tuna fans were not. When Bonaroo opened for Tuna here on Long Island in New York at a theater in Hempstead the Tuna fans booed Bonaroo off the stage. I remember they were wailing on "Life's Sweat Song", the guitarist was ripping it up with his leads while running back and forth across the stage trying to coax the audience into grooving on his incredible performance, which might have only made things worse for them.
The audience booed them so badly that they had to get off. All that could be heard was shouts for Tuna and Boos!
I also remember that their part of the show was being recorded, possibly for some local radio show broadcast at a later date.
The hard core Tuna fans were so against seeing anything other than Tuna that I almost got beat up for applauding for Bonaroo.