“Mostly for me the bus is like an escape from reality. A place that bring us as a friend group together. It’s like having a piece of Bonnaroo right at home with us.” – Brooklin, Roo Bus Co-Owner
When our crew rolled into Bonnaroo on Wednesday night in 2017, we had no clue that the hippie bus that we’d be parked next to in the General Admission RV section would become a part of our future. We of course introduced ourselves to our new Roo neighbors and asked about the amazing bus as soon as we could, but had no idea how that weekend would change things for us.
We got to know the original owners, Bob and Tammy very well throughout the weekend. They lived just up the road a few miles from the Farm in Manchester, seemed to know everyone in town, and were just the perfect loving ambassadors for everything Bonnaroo. Our crew shared snacks, music recommendations, and so much more over the Roo weekend and became instant best friends.
One of the best things they shared with us was the story of the bus. They’d bought it from Coffee County years ago, and converted it from a prison transport bus into the hippie bus that it is today.
They’d ripped out almost all of the seats, replaced it with couches and a bed, and painted the exterior bright blue with tons of hippy imagery, Beatles references, and Bonnaroo logos. One of the tables they installed even has tickets and souvenirs from old Bonnaroo’s all the way back to the early days of the festival. Not only was it their home away from home for each Bonnaroo, but it was a party bus where tons of memories from their family and best friends were made and immortalized.
The bus was best at making new friends! Because of the bus we met so many people we never would have met if we were just in a tent or RV. It brought people together year after year! People would stop by to sit inside it and play guitar or sing or just to chill out! We never minded….we always loved and welcomed the company! -Tammy, Roo Bus Original Owner
As we camped next to them, we realized that it was a perfect way to share the vibes from Roo, as tons of people would drop by for a tour and to leave their signature all over the inside and outside of the bus. After so many of these visits from new friends, the Roo Bus became a rolling yearbook of so many June weekends at the Farm.
We all followed the Facebook page for the Roo Bus after Bonnaroo 2017 to keep up with the adventures of our new friends and the journey of the bus. That August, we learned that Bob and Tammy had decided to move from Manchester to the Gulf Coast, and that they were listing the bus on eBay. We placed a bid on it, mostly as a joke for ourselves.
My wife Sharla and I were visiting in Nashville the night that the auction ended, fittingly enough to see a free concert from Portugal. The Man that night. Just a few moments before the band came out to start, Sharla closed her eyes and let out a small scream. We’d won the bus.
Our minds were a bit of a blur as Portugal. The Man played through their set which was very reminiscent of their blazing Late Night show in This Tent earlier that Summer. Little did we realize at that time, our Roo careers would forever change after that night. Not only did we now own a piece of Bonnaroo history, but we also now owned a piece of Bonnaroo that could travel along with us wherever we drove it.
The Roo Bus had already been the stuff of legend before we bought it from Bob and Tammy last year. A giant photo of it had been printed onto the wall of Centeroo in past years, and a photo of Tammy sitting the hood was featured as one of the cards in the wristband care package sent out to everyone in 2016.
We decided that we wanted to include our best friends in that legend as well, and symbolically had them give Bob and Tammy a few dollars when we picked it up so that our Roo crew of Aaron, Brooklin, and Chelsey would also become co-owners of the bus.
We’ve long said that the Roo Bus doesn’t just belong to myself or Sharla, or to just our crew that we’ve shared so many amazing memories with inside it. With hundreds of signatures all over the bus, and with so many memories shared by so many people in and around it, it truly belongs to all of the Bonnaroo community.
As soon as we began driving it around in our hometown of Huntsville, Alabama and saw the astounded faces and heard all of the positive shouting, we realized we were just caretakers of something much larger than ourselves.
“It was probably the second year that we got the idea to let people sign it. I love all the crazy things people draw on it or the clever sayings they come up with. There were quite a few people that would come look for the bus year after year to resign it or add another date to their prior picture or saying. It became quite popular!” -Tammy, Roo Bus Original Owner
A big part of that is the tradition that the Roo Bus has become. Those visits and signatures are a tradition we now love being a part of, but we’re looking to start new ones as well. In the future, we’re planning having an artist signature portion of the bus where we can immortalize those who have played Roo, and we’re also going to be doing Roo Bus pop up events in our area in the years to come.
One of the largest new traditions we’re starting this year is the Wednesday Night Pre-Party. Everyone who arrives to Bonnaroo early Wednesday afternoon is more than welcome to join us outside the bus where our friends from Camp Reddaroo, the Roochute, and the Bonnarooster will be helping us host a kickoff event for the best four days of the year.
As we drive the Roo Bus inside and outside of Bonnaroo in the years to come, we hope you’ll join us in carrying on the tradition of Bob and Tammy for many summer nights at the Farm for years to come.