MANCHESTER, Tenn. — It’s Jack Johnson to the rescue at Bonnaroo.
Johnson has agreed to take the Saturday night headlining slot at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival after Mumford & Sons were forced to cancel due to bassist Ted Dwane’s illness.
Festival officials announced the move Friday morning. The “Upside Down” singer last headlined at Bonnaroo in 2008.
“The easy choice was, ‘Hell, yeah, we’ll play,”’ Johnson said while leaning in the shade of a tent. “It’s Bonnaroo. It’s my favorite place to play in the world. Then as soon as I hung up it was kind of like, ‘Oh, wait, we haven’t played this set in over a year.’”
Maybe longer. Pushed to search his memory, he said the group played a show just once last year, 45 minutes at Farm Aid. Besides a few acoustic sets, that’s been it.
“I don’t want to think about it,” he said. “You’re making me nervous.”
Mumford & Sons’ decision comes after Dwane received treatment this week for a blood clot on his brain. The band postponed three shows after the blood clot was discovered but hoped to play Bonnaroo on Saturday night.
Dwane has been discharged from the hospital but is not yet ready to play. Rather than perform with a replacement, the London-based, Grammy-award-winning folk rock band decided to pull out. The band also canceled other appearances, ending their summer tour early.
“The surgery went well, and the excellent medical team helping him are very pleased with his progress,” a band statement said. “He has been nothing short of heroic in how he has handled the whole ordeal, and now it has been medically proved that he does indeed have a brain.”
It was a case of being in the right place at the right time for Johnson.
The 38-year-old folk-rock singer was in town to play with friends ALO on Thursday night. He also was already scheduled to be in Manchester this weekend to perform a small secret show for reporters and participate in a question-and-answer session to promote his new album, “From Here To Now To You,” which is due out in September.
He said his band was en route Friday afternoon.
“So we’re going to set up a little rehearsal room tonight and jam out for a bit,” Jackson said. “If we get one night of practice, we’re fine. We don’t tend to practice too much anyways. You don’t want our band to be too tight. We’ve got to keep it loose.”