Last Sunday night the 2015 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Mancheser, Tennessee wrapped up 4 days of peace, love, and rock & roll….or something like that. The 2015 Bonnaroo music festival was not completely sold out (to my knowledge), as the festival grounds can accommodate around a hundred thousand crusty fans, but one thing fans were not able to purchase was an all-access pass like the one Mad Men and 30 Rock actor Jon Hamm had. Jon Hamm‘s all-access wristband allowed him to go anywhere and do anything he wanted at the festival grounds. The hallowed all-access pass is pretty much the biggest ‘f*ck you’ in music, because once you have one not a single person can tell you ‘no’, not even security. Jon Hamm had that pass and gifted it to one lucky bartender in Chattanooga, the amazing story is below.
After spending a few days at Bonnaroo with his pal Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm left on Sunday and the two stopped at the Tupelo Honey Café in Chattanooga, Tennessee for some grub. After chatting with their waitress for an hour or so Jon Hamm gave her his all-access wristband and told her to “go to Bonnaroo and have a great time,” and she did just that. With Jon Hamm’s all-access wristband in tow she left Chattanooga for Manchester (a short drive), and proceeded to have one of the greatest Bonnaroo experiences of all time.
Sean Phipps of Nooga.com has the story:
It was just a routine Sunday afternoon shift for Tupelo Honey Café bartender Abby Swartz until Jon Hamm and Zach Galifianakis walked in.
The two, along with a third person thought to be a producer, arrived at Tupelo Honey at about 2:30 or 3 p.m., following a well-documented Saturday evening.
Hamm and Galifianakis were in Chattanooga following several appearances at Bonnaroo the previous day. They were emcees for one of the famous Bonnaroo Superjams and led the crowd in a rendition of “We Are the World.” At one point, Galifianakis became Hamm’s pet, for some reason.
Swartz, a recent transplant to Chattanooga by way of Indiana and Florida, immediately recognized the celebrities when they sat down at the bar.
“There was just no doubt in my mind,” Swartz said. “You know how you sometimes see someone famous and you’re not sure if it’s really them? I immediately knew. I got really nervous and I was trembling.”
Maybe I’m a little jaded from living in NYC for the better part of the last decade, but who the hell trembles at the sight of a celebrity? I’ve actually seen Jon Hamm twice while walking around my neighborhood. And don’t get me wrong, it was awesome because he’s a fantastic actor who has played iconic roles, but trembling?
Over the next 45 minutes, Swartz chatted with them about Bonnaroo (she had no idea they were scheduled to be there) and other topics. Swartz said Galifianakis recognized the Tupelo Honey name, having lived in North Carolina near the original Asheville location.
— Sean Phipps (@SeanMPhipps) June 17, 2015
As they were preparing to leave, Swartz said Hamm stood up and started tugging and struggling with his Bonnaroo wristband. He eventually removed it and handed it to Swartz, saying, “Take this wristband and go to Bonnaroo. This will get you anywhere you need to go.”
Bro move of the century? He was done with it. She could use it. No sweat off his back giving it to her, right? Correct.
From there she took off for the hills of Manchester and had a badass time….
Swartz was initially unaware how much access her wristband would give her. She parked with general attendees and entered the festival through the iconic arches like everyone else. Eventually, she found an information desk, and they directed her through gate after gate until she found herself backstage at several stages.
Swartz saw Brandi Carlile, watched Florence and the Machine (one of the best shows of Bonnaroo, according to many) and managed to snag a bird’s-eye view of the festival’s final headliner, the legendary Billy Joel.
“It was the highlight of my life,” she said. “Throughout the night, I kept thinking about how lucky I was. I’m not a very outgoing person, so I didn’t talk to too many people in the artists’ hospitality area. I mostly kept to myself. But there were times when I would just smile and think, ‘There are thousands of people here, and I am the only one who is, basically, Jon Hamm’s stand-in.'”
I have to say that certainly sounds like a better Bonnaroo experience than I ever had. I went to the first three Bonnaroo’s, skipped two, and went to the 6th. Over those years I experienced some awesome times (weaseled my way backstage for Widespread Panic when Mikey Houser was still alive) and some truly miserable times (my new $150 hammock stolen with my backpack as I walked away from my car for less than 5-minutes to help push a car that was stuck in the mud). But never before have I experience a ‘miracle’ quite like this.
What Tupelo Honey Café bartender Abby Swartz received from Jon Hamm was an absolute miracle, and I mean that in the hippiest scene of the word. Within the jamband music scene there is something known as a ‘miracle’, which is when someone with an extra ticket gives it to another fan for free. This exchange usually takes place when the fan receiving the miracle doesn’t have a ticket to get in to the show, but it’s hippies and wookies we’re talking about here so often the person holding up a ‘I need a miracle’ sign in the Phish lot is just trying to scam a nice person out of their extra ticket, and they’ll turn around and sell that free ticket to buy precious gem stones. This holding of an ‘I Need A Miracle’ sign is something that dates back to the Grateful Dead’s song and has continued to flourish throughout hippie circles for generations. Here’s that song:
Anyways, Jon Hamm = Bro King.