Local Current Blog

Wailing Loons bring Minnesota pride to Bonnaroo charity dinner

Wailing Loons perform at BonnaROOTS. Photo: Austin Aho for OxFam America.

While some of Minnesota’s biggest acts entertained massive crowds of fans new and old on some of Bonnaroo’s biggest stages, one Minnesota act got a chance to rock three out of the four days of the festival for a good cause. Eat for Equity, a Minneapolis-based group that focuses on cultivating a culture of generosity through preparing locally-sourced food and gathering donations for well-deserving groups, sponsored a BonnaROOTS Community Dinner. These four-course meals were all made with ingredients gathered within 200 miles of Manchester, Tenn., made fresh by volunteer cooks, and allowed festivalgoers the chance to score an actual meal that wouldn’t be entirely composed of corndogs and burgers while also donating money to Eat for Equity and Oxfam America.

Wailing Loons, also Minneapolis-based, were given the both the opportunity to help prepare the meals and the chance to soundtrack each of these communal dinners with their brand of backwoods-inspired bluegrass. Four members (Dan Wilder on guitar/vocals, Emilie Hitch on vocals/percussion, Casey Pavek on banjo, and Nick Neylon on bass) performed 6:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of the festival and brought their banjo and stand-up bass to the Solar Stage, located within the environment-focused Planet Roo section of the festival grounds.

Located almost directly in the middle of the festival, this stage and surrounding area was a small, quiet oasis amidst the constant chaos of the rest of Bonnaroo. Facing a communal table with seating for 110 diners, the Wailing Loons entertained and bantered with the audience in between danceable folk rock that dealt with topics of northern lights, bank robberies, and moonshine. They often quipped about their pride of being Minnesota’s smallest representation at Bonnaroo, and showed support for their fellow Minnesotan acts, mentioning on Friday night their intent to catch Atmosphere, who were performing directly after their set. They also constantly reminded the spectators and diners of the good cause they were supporting by purchasing a meal from Eat for Equity.

Though not quite gathering the massive crowds both Trampled by Turtles and Atmosphere received, Wailing Loons still managed to be a proud representation of Minnesota Nice and entertain many grateful, hungry patrons. It was a pleasant surprise to bask in the waning sun in the company of fellow Minnesotans, while also enjoying the communal atmosphere of the dinner and the generosity of those donating to worthwhile causes, including support for local Tennessee farmers. Really, the combination of sustainability, folky pride, and positive vibes could be the exact embodiment of Bonnaroo.

Hamline University student Hannah Marie Hron attended Bonnaroo for the second year in a row in 2015. Her favorite act in 2014 was Kanye West and in 2015, Kendrick Lamar.