Brains behind Bonnaroo

June 7, 2013 11:00 AM

Catherine Freshley
newwave@tulane.edu

Most people who attend the country’s biggest music festivals, like Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., or Outside Lands in San Francisco, don’t notice every little detail. But Jonathan Mayers, who received a bachelor of science in management from Tulane University in 1995, does.

Jonathan Mayers

Jonathan Mayers, a 1995 business grad, is co-founder of Superfly Presents, a company that, among other ventures, conceives, plans and produces festivals like Bonnaroo, to be held June 13 - 16. (Photo from Jonathan Mayers)


Mayers is co-founder of Superfly Presents, a company that, among other ventures, conceives, plans and produces festivals — big ones, like these two.

“I think all the senses need to be thought of,” Mayers says. “These are like great big art projects, and we’re in the detail business.”

Of course, whether you’re conscious of it or not, it’s all those little details — “the mood, how it looks, how people treat you”— that help create what Mayers is after: an emotional connection between the attendee and the festival.

“We’re building properties that are ongoing platforms to promote artists and be a filter for audiences,” Mayers explains.

After working for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, which produces Jazz Fest, while in school and Tipitina’s after graduation, Mayers and a couple of friends founded Superfly.

After putting on events in New Orleans for a while, “we wanted a bigger footprint,” Mayers says, “both creatively and financially.” So they started Bonnaroo, which has been a smashing success, and then Outside Lands and most recently, Googa Mooga.

But it’s not only about the music and the little details. Mayers says he and his partners pursue things they are interested in, like food.

Several years ago, SuperFly introduced gourmet food and wine to a receptive audience at Outside Lands. Fast forward to today, and the company is busy planning the second year of food-focused Googa Mooga at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Yes, Mayers has ambitious plans for the culinary festival brand (he wants to take it global). Like the other projects he and his partners have done, they’ll go after it because it’s “interesting.”

Catherine Freshley received a bachelor of arts in economics and English from Tulane in May 2009.



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