Concert Master
Jesse Mann ’95 keeps Bonnaroo and other music bashes on track
by Dave Allen ’06

Everything has a season, and for Jesse Mann ’95 — and music enthusiasts everywhere — right now is festival season. Based in Nashville, Mann helps stoke the interest of festivalgoers nationwide.

As senior vice president of strategy and operations for AC Entertainment, a music and entertainment promotions company which is part of Live Nation Entertainment, Mann manages the business and logistics behind more than 1,500 live events annually, including seven annual festivals. Bonnaroo Music + Arts Festival, now in its 18th summer in Manchester, Tenn., is the crown jewel among AC’s offerings, which also include Forecastle, in Louisville; Moon River, in Chattanooga; and Railbird, in Lexington.

Headshot Jesse Mann
Photo: Michael Weintrob
Jesse Mann ’95 keeps major music festivals on track coast to coast.

With production and original programming experience from CBS, HBO and Yahoo, Mann moved into live entertainment in New York with The Bowery Presents. A career-defining moment came in 2015 with the success of Fare Thee Well, a celebration of the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary and the original band members’ final concerts. “They were the most in-demand concerts Ticketmaster had seen,” Mann says.

While he says he had “music in his veins” from an early age, Mann deepened his interest while at Bucknell, serving on the Concert Committee — he recalls booking Violent Femmes, Indigo Girls and Widespread Panic — and, outside of his political science major, taking a class on jazz, rock and the avant-garde. The Dead held an allure for the political science major back then, too; he recalls hearing their “Sugar Magnolia” during an exam. “I was both proud and sad that I was being tested on it,” he says.

Mann, who moved in 2015 to his wife’s hometown, says Nashville “is called Music City for a reason.” He notes that it’s no longer strictly country music. “It’s become a great base of operations — not just for labels, publishing and songwriting, but for the live-music world as well.”