1. Archive

The big time or bust: Inside the Applebutter Express' journey to Bonnaroo 2012

A couple of months ago, who could have expected that a band from Tampa would be added to the bill at one of the largest music festivals in the country, Bonnaroo 2012 in Manchester, Tenn.? And who could have guessed that that band would be The Applebutter Express, an unheralded four-piece jam/bluegrass group specializing in "good time ukulele funk"?

The week of Bonnaroo 2012, while your humble Soundcheck editor was off checking out Radiohead and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, tbt*'s Caitlin Johnson was embedded with the Applebutter Express from beginning to end, chronicling their journey from Tampa to one of the biggest stages any band can imagine. She writes:

The band never would have dreamed of playing Bonnaroo two months ago. There are countless bands with more experience and more fame, and probably more talent, but somehow, Applebutter is the name on the bill.

"We're sneaking in the back door," ukulele player and singer Kyle Biss, 26, said. "It's unbelievable that we're getting these slots after only being together less than six months."

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is the behemoth of the summer music scene. It's the biggest festival, in Kyle's mind, that an independent band like Applebutter could hope to play. It has the potential to not just open but kick down doors. Doors to record deals and European tours and no more day jobs. Or, it could be just another show before the long car ride back to low-paying gigs in smoke-filled bars.

Click here for Caitlin's full story about the Applebutter Express at Bonnaroo. And get more photos of the Applebutter Express' journey to Bonnaroo 2012 after the jump.

Photos: Dave Martin, Associated Press