"I wrote this song this morning," Jack Johnson, acoustic guitar strapped in his hands, told his thousands of onlookers at the 2013 Bonnaroo festival on Saturday night (June 15), "and I just wanted to share it with you guys."
When the 38-year-old folk singer-songwriter casually tossed out the statement during his headlining set, the nonchalance came off as completely natural; of course Johnson, who nodded at the opportunity to fill in for Mumford & Sons’ recently scrapped headlining show at this year’s Bonnaroo fest and pulled a cohesive set together in less than 48 hours, could summon the time and dedication to write a quick ditty on Saturday morning and hone it enough for Saturday night. The song, titled “Bonnaroo,” essentially served as a recap of the unfortunate festival situation involving Mumford & Sons bassist Ted Dwane undergoing surgery for a blood clot on the surface of his brain, forcing the folk-rock stars to cancel their Saurday night performance at Bonnaroo. Johnson’s quickly organized replacement status was mentioned in his new song, simply titled “Bonnaroo”: “I had a late night gig with ALO… but then the phone rang, and things got strange/My low pro[file] was about to change.”
Johnson, who performed at the first-ever Bonnaroo 12 years ago and also headlined the festival in 2008, was able to write a song with a solid coda (“What the hell, it’s Bonnaroo!”) and full-fledged accordion solo in a matter of hours, but none of that was surprising. The mid-set treat was simply the cherry on top of a delightful headlining performance that no one could have seen coming one week ago. Johnson, whose four-piece band hadn’t played an expansive show in over a year, completely committed to the challenge of filling in for Mumford & Sons without complaint or error, and even maintained his surfer-dude halo by showing love to the U.K. quartet with a shout-out and cover song.
“We want to dedicate this whole set to Ted Dwane and all of Mumford & Sons,” Johnson told the crowd, who roared their respect back in his face. [“And we wish we could all be here playing music together. Maybe that will be next year, hopefully.”] Over an hour later, Johnson and his crew were jamming on “The Cave,” Mumford & Sons’ Song of the Year nominee from Sigh No More… _____ Click here to read the rest of this article on Billboard.com.