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Bonnaroo 2010's Essential Sets

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SATURDAY

12:45 p.m.—1:45 p.m.: Baaba Maal
After Friday's manic conclusion, you'll no doubt want to ease into Saturday with the legendary Senegalese guitarist. Maal is a rare kind of player: the graceful dynamo, capable of turning loose long, liquid acoustic lines with all the ferocity of a gentle spring breeze. To watch his nimble fretwork is to be astonished; it's no wonder that there's a small cult of devoted fans who insist that, on a list of the world's greatest guitar players, Maal's name should be somewhere near the top.

2:30 p.m.—4:00 p.m.: Norah Jones
Jones may play well with the light jazz set, but make no mistake: she's an indie rocker at heart. Her latest album, The Fall, found her moving from piano to guitar and collaborating with Okkervil River's Will Sheff and alt-country enfant terrible Ryan Adams. The result is a record that, while just as subdued as previous outings, feels slinkier and slipperier. The trick will be to see whether or not Jones can translate her tiny songs to the grand festival stage.

3:30 p.m.—5:00 p.m: Jimmy Cliff
A must. Jimmy Cliff is a reggae giant, author of two of the genre's finest entries — "The Harder They Come" and "Many Rivers to Cross" — and the star of its defining film. At 62, his voice has lost none of his high ache or rich resonance, and opportunities to see him live are few and far between.

4:45 p.m.—6:15 p.m.: Avett Brothers
Over the course of the last decade, the Avett Brothers have catapulted from subdued back-porch folk band to bona fide alt-country superstars — all without fundamentally changing their M.O. Last year's I and Love and You was just as plaintive and lonesome as previous efforts, but songs like "Laundry Room" and the title track found them slipping in bigger hooks amongst the acoustic guitar and piano. While the Avetts' records are lovely, their live show is where they truly shine, nailing the harmonies with incredible precision and unbridled joy.

6:00 p.m.—7:30 p.m.: The Dead Weather
Jack White may be the band's marquee name, the group's not-so-secret weapon is frontwoman Alison Mosshart. She commands the stage, flinging her tiny, wraithlike body from one end to the other, stalking the borders and pointing an accusatory finger at the crowd. Their music is all sharp edges and mean looks, and their live performance is chilling in its intensity.

7:00 p.m.—8:30 p.m.: Weezer or Jeff Beck
The weird kind of damned-if-you-do that only a music festival like Bonnaroo can present. You could go with the egghead nerd-rockers with an affinity for nestling goofy lyrics in bright, power-pop surroundings. Or a rock & roll legend with fierce guitar chops and an undeniable back catalog. If both acts bring their respective A Games, this could be the toughest musical decision you'll face all weekend.

8:30 p.m.—10:30 p.m.: Stevie Wonder
Wonder boasts one of pop music's finest repertoires, and recent performances prove he is still in astonishing voice. Just rattling off song titles should convince you: "Sir Duke." "Superstition." "Higher Ground." Wonder is a showman of the old school, cajoling the crowd and turning every classic into a mass sing-along. And who doesn't want to be part of an audience this big, singing along to "Uptight"?

11:30 p.m.—1:30 a.m.: Jay-Z
Jay-Z's live shows are quickly becoming the stuff of legend. He's easily on par with U2 for charisma, showmanship, flair and, yes, heart, commanding the stage with ease while his ace live band crackles and leaps behind him. His delivery has only sharpened with age, and he leavens his own hits with snatches of past hip-hop classics (his performance at All Points West last year found him turning out a riotous version of "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn"). In 2008, he took on Oasis and won — handily — and, even without the usual array of surprise guests, Jay's shows are a master class in the art of the live performance.

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“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

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