Bud Light is bringing back The Roots & Friends Jam Session to Austin, Texas at this year’s South By Southwest. The legendary crew will rock the stage alongside Jidenna, Method Man, Redman and other surprise guests at the March 18 event.
“The Roots are known for our jam sessions across the country,” The Roots’ Black Thought tells Billboard. “Over a long period of time, we’ve always produced once-in-a-lifetime event experiences and it carries over into what we do at our festivals and what we do when we’re doing a pre-awards party or even at NBA All-Star Weekend — it’s always about The Roots reaching out to specific and unique group of friends and family to curate an experience.”
Black Thought also notes that the ingredients to a successful jam session are “professionalism and a willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone and to think outside of the box.”
Not only does the Philadelphia collective plan to rock out with their peers in the spirit of the beer brand’s “Famous Among Friends” campaign, they hope that festival-goers will be introduced to new talent, like Austin native Shakey Graves and up-and-coming singer/songwriter Cloves.
“Questlove and I been friends since high school — our friendship is the foundation of this band and we’re just excited to collaborate with such a wide range of brilliant artists,” continues Black Thought. “Speaking to Jidenna, specifically, I found out a few months ago when we played together at a different concert, it was one of the first times I got to sit down and have a conversation with him. He had explained to me that listening to some of my lyrics as a young man, before he decided to take music as seriously as he does now, and researching some of the things I spoke about in my rhymes years and years ago is what made him become an MC. It’s a friendship that’s come full-circle.”
Working with Method Man and Redman also comes after a personal history with The Roots. “We’ve collaborated with Method Man and Redman before on various levels. At one time, we were label mates. Method and I recently worked together on a show for HBO — the recurring theme here is friendship. It’s always an honor [to perform with them]. They’re two artists I hold in high esteem and am comfortable with, and I don’t feel like they need to be directed at all. I feel like we can give them free reign to do what they do and bring that flavor to the jam session. They’re really good at improv and have a lot of classic material so I don’t doubt it’s gonna make for a high-energy performance.”
For last year’s festivities, The Roots brought out a slew of acts including Yo Gotti, Talib Kweli, Ashanti, Tish Hyman, Naughty By Nature, Too Short as well as Big Grams (Big Boi and Phantogram).
“We are thrilled to be back in Austin for the second year in a row to bring the Bud Light x The Roots & Friends SXSW Jam Session to our fans and friends at the festival,” adds Bud Light vice president, Alexander Lambrecht. “It feels natural to activate at South by Southwest where collaboration and friendship are cornerstones for the entire festival, especially this year on the heels of the launch of our “Famous Among Friends” campaign.”
The 2017 Roots Jam Session will take place at 800 Congress Street on Saturday, March 18.