Ri¢hie performs as Bonnaroo opens today (Photo: Helen Comer / DNJ Photo)
As the opening act of the 2013 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Richie Kirkpatrick slung his guitar strap over his blue striped suit and welcomed the small but growing crowd that entered the grounds just minutes before.
“We don’t know where you came from, but we’re glad you’re here,” said Kirkpatrick, lead singer and gutarist for the 9-piece band Ri¢hie, which played at the “New Music on Tap Lounge.”
Kirkpatrick was born in Johnson City, lived in Murfreesboro, and now hails from Nashville. He has played Bonnaroo three times before: first for Bobby Bare Jr. and twice for Jessica Lea Mayfield. Now he and his crew – which includes two drummers and three female backup singers – rocked the ‘Roo as Ri¢hie. The group with “Take Another Piece of my Heart” and then went into a song called “Animal Print.”
Kirkpatrick hammed it up for the crowd and the media photographers capturing his set, dancing around the stage and jamming on his guitar.
“I am honored to open it up and start it off with some jams,” Kirkpatrick said during soundcheck before the gates opened.
He added: “It’s really fun to be able to play a festival I went to before I was playing it.”
And, he said, it’s a lot different than other places he has played, like, say, Holland.
“Here it’s like ‘Yeah, Tennessee, I speak the language,” he joked.
Our tent freshly pitched early Thursday afternoon, we were just able to get to the New Music Lounge to see Ri¢hie kick off the whole shebang. We’ve enjoyed watching Richie Kirkpatrick‘s band grow, and their recently expanded lineup repped Nashville right on this steamy afternoon. Featuring Matt “Mr. Jimmy” Rowland on keys and Tristen’s Tristen and Birdcloud’s Jas Kaset and Makenzie Green on the BGVs, they’re beginning to resemble superstar rock bands of the ’70s, Concert for Bangladesh style, and the transformation suits them to a T. For a festival ostensibly devoted to earth biscuits getting their jam on, the bill is noticeably devoid of noodle-dance-friendly bands; while Ri¢hie is firmly in the concise camp of rock, he’s found a new home for what we miss from Phish — namely the licks Trey Anastasio lays down when he’s focused. Cuts from Night Games were interspersed with new number or two, and culminated in the Ghostfinger fan favorite “Aminal Eye.” Said Jasmin when we ran into her after the set, “I’m a fan. I love Richie, and I get to get up here in my bathing suit and do this? Hell, yeah!” We couldn’t agree more.