Andrea Belanger Band Snags Coveted Bonnaroo Gig

Liz Burg
June 2, 2011
Andrea Belanger and her band head to Bonnaroo for performances on June 11 and June 12, 2011.
Photo provided by the artist

Andrea Belanger, a guitar and songwriting student at Berklee College of Music, won a performance slot at the 10th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee with her six all-Berklee bandmates. Last year's festival attracted over 80,000 music lovers. Belanger, whose music has been described as "Wilco meets Radiohead," won the desirable spot to perform at the festival through Sonicbids, an online platform that connects independent artists to performance opportunities. Beating out thousands of other entrants in the site's Road to Roo contest, Belanger is one of two artists chosen to join the likes of Eminem, Arcade Fire, Neil Young, The Black Keys, and Mumford & Sons.

The Andrea Belanger Band will perform on Saturday, June 11 at 8:00 p.m. on the Solar Stage and Sunday, June 12 at 2:30 on the Café Where Stage. The septet will make the 19-hour journey to Manchester in a 15-person van plus trailer running solely on waste vegetable oil.

Belanger, who just finished her sixth semester at Berklee and was recently awarded a Songwriting Achievement Scholarship by the college, learned that she was Bonnaroo-bound just after releasing her debut album, Light Up the Dark. The goal of Sonicbids's Road to Roo contest was to remain in the top eight pool of entrants for a 12-day public voting period. After the voting period closed, a panel of judges selected Belanger and rapper Kellee Maize to perform at the popular festival.

"I try to write introspective songs that hit people in the heart," says Belanger. "We write storytelling folk songs, but with a lot going on musically, bridging organic and synthetic sounds. When I get together with the band, everyone adds his or her layer. Some of my bandmates add traditional elements, such as Dustin Olyan's guitar parts, while rhythm guitarist Chris Putt adds a more experimental, ambient tone to the mix. Everyone comes from different but rich musical backgrounds; it makes for the perfect balance."

Joining Belanger (Fall River, MA) at Bonnaroo will be Paige Califano (West Milford, NJ) on background vocals, Erik Kramer (Southampton, PA) on bass, Ricky Petraglia (Hampton Township, PA) on drums, and Christopher Putt (Washington, PA) on rhythm guitar, as well as Berklee alumni Dustin Olyan (Toronto, ON) on lead guitar and Zachory Tenorio-Miller (Montclair, NJ) on keys. The band formed a year ago when Belanger met Putt in a lyric-writing class.