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Bonnaroo 2009 has some of the biggest names in music at the head of its lineup this year, including the reunited Phish, Beastie Boys, Wilco, Snoop Dogg, Nine Inch Nails, Grizzly Bear, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Mars Volta, Animal Collective, Femi Kuti and Bruce Springsteen.

“If there was such a thing as a recession-proof lineup this year, this had to be it,” said Ashley Capps, the co-founder of Bonnaroo and president of AC Entertainment.

Enticing fans to pay $250 to $300 for tickets to the festival is no easy task, and its producers have definitely played it safe, with over 100 must-see bands spread out across six stages.

With the famous names, Bonnaroo is sure to be at capacity, but will the other, less-known bands get any attention? David Byrne has his own stage – the first time a performer picks a lineup – which will feature Ani DiFranco, Santigold, St. Vincent, The Dirty Projectors and piano comedy duo Katzenjammer.

On Friday, “The Other Tent” will center on African music, with performances from Béla Fleck & Toumani Diabate, King Sunny Ade & the African Beats and Amadou & Mariam. The same tent will turn to bluegrass on the next day, with the Del McCoury Band and the David Grisman Quintet. With attendence expected to hit 60,000, these artists will get their share of the spotlight.

The festival has to sell tickets, and popular acts like Phish and Springsteen are absolutely necessary. But the smaller bands also benefit from the thousands of fans that wander their direction. David Byrne says, “Maybe for a couple of the acts, for some people, my name might help draw attention to them, or might make somebody go: ‘Maybe I’ll check that out if we think that’s worthwhile.’”

Do you think Bonnaroo has a healthy variety of artists? Which less-known bands are you most interested in?

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