Hours after Jack Johnson was officially announced as the replacement for Mumford & Sons at Bonnaroo 2013, the folk singer-songwriter performed a surprise acoustic set and talked about being a last-minute headliner on Friday morning (June 14) on the Manchester, Tenn. festival grounds.
"So the circumstances are pretty unfortunate. I was really looking forward to seeing Mumford & Sons!" Johnson told a surprised crowd in the media tent backstage at Bonnaroo.
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Johnson was on the festival grounds when Bonnaroo kicked off on Thursday afternoon and before Mumford & Sons officially scrapped their headlining set due to bassist Ted Dwane's recent surgery for a blood clot on the surface of his brain. The singer-songwriter was not originally scheduled to perform, and said that he came down to Manchester looking forward to watching performers like Paul McCartney, Mumford & Sons and ALO.
After performing at the first Bonnaroo festival 12 years ago and then headlining in 2008, Johnson said that he was happy to join Paul McCartney and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers at the top of this year's bill. "As soon as I said yes, I said, 'Holy shit. I gotta learn a lot of chords and a lot of words really quickly," Johnson said with a laugh.
Johnson also called Bonnaroo "one of my favorite places in the world" due to the artist-friendly atmosphere and emphasis on collaboration; during his 2008 performance, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder joined Johnson onstage for the song "Constellations."
"I think bands feel a little more connected here," said Johnson, adding that he hoped to someday join Mumford & Sons onstage whenever the folk-rock stars return to the road.
Before leaving the media tent, Johnson performed two new songs, including his recently released single "I Got You," neither of which he had performed live before. The new tunes come from Johnson's forthcoming sixth studio album, "From Here To Now To You," due out Sept. 17 on Brushfire Records.