As the bassist in the country-rocking Zac Brown Band, which plays at KAABOO Del Mar this weekend, Matt Mangano has performed in stadiums and at festivals across the nation, including three sold-out shows in August at Boston’s Fenway Park.
We spoke recently with the 39-year-old multi-instrumentalist, who is a 2000 graduate of the Berklee College of Music.
Q: Do you recall the first festival you attended and who performed?
A: Absolutely. I grew up in Visalia, in the center of the San Joaquin Valley. So the first real festival I went to was Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit at Shoreline Amphitheatre, and I’m lucky enough to go back and play there this October with the Zac Brown Band. It’ll be quite a change from the lawn seats I sat in! I went in 1994 or ’95, and got so see Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Pearl Jam, Indigo Girls, Tom Petty ...
Q: What are the key components that make for a really good festival?
A: Well, as a performer, what makes for a great festival is the backstage accommodations, honestly. They can range from really scant to extravagant. You can have one festival where they (provide) some Porto-Potties and a dusty trailer, or very nice, decorated dressing rooms and good food. For crowd accessibility to all the music you want to hear, it’s having well laid-out maps and scheduling. Good food and good drinks will kind of make for a good party any time.
Q: What’s the first festival you performed at?
A: I went on tour in 2001 with (fellow Berklee alum) John Mayer. I think the first festival we played at was ‘Memphis In May.’ Oddly enough, my wife was there and saw us perform, but we didn’t know each other then. I couldn’t even tell you how many festivals I’ve played, because they get mixed in with regular tour dates. We’ll play three shows of our own, a festival the next day, then back to our own shows. So I would say I’ve played dozens and dozens of festivals.
Q: KAABOO is being held at the Del Mar Racetrack and fairgrounds. Ever been there?
A: I’ve just driven by it, but I’ve been to Del Mar. Every summer, my family goes on vacation in Encinitas. When I was growing up, we stayed in Pacific Beach every summer. So I’m really familiar with the area. I love it down there.
Q: What do you know about KAABOO?
A: Well, I know it’s a multiday festival and that this is the first year, their maiden voyage. I think they’ve got a lot to prove. But with the lineup they have, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be a success.