The long-awaited list of performers for the postponed 2021 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will be unveiled on Thursday, the fest’s producers announced.
Following the cancellation of the 2020 Jazz Fest because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s was pushed back from the festival’s traditional spring time slot to the fall.
It is scheduled to open at the Fair Grounds on Friday, October 8, and conclude on Sunday, October 17.
For a normal, springtime Jazz Fest, the talent roster is generally revealed in mid-January, about three months before the gates open in late April.
A late June roster release for a Jazz Fest that starts on Oct. 8 is roughly the same amount of advance notice.
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As is the case every year in the run up to the schedule’s release, speculation abounds about which visiting BNAs – “big-name acts” – will join the abundance of New Orleans and south Louisiana artists who give Jazz Fest its distinct personality.
All that speculation will be laid to rest shortly. Meanwhile, based on touring schedules and other factors, at least a handful of big names appear to be bound for the Fair Grounds.
Nostradamus-like skills are not required to predict Ledisi will be at Jazz Fest this year. As one of the strongest voices in contemporary R&B and soul – and a New Orleans native – she’s a natural fit for the Congo Square Stage.
But more tellingly, a recent social media announcement for her upcoming The Wild Card Tour listed an Oct. 17 appearance at Jazz Fest, right after three shows in Texas. The New Orleans stop isn’t listed with the other tour dates on her web site, meaning its inclusion on the social media announcement was likely a slip-up along the lines of Anita Baker prematurely revealing her 2018 Jazz Fest show.
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There’s no guessing about the Isley Brothers, either: their web site does list an Oct. 17 show at the Fair Grounds as part of Ronald and Ernie Isley’s 60th anniversary celebration of the band.
It’s entirely likely and logical that at least a few artists who were booked for the canceled 2020 festival will try again in 2021.
Dead & Company, featuring three alumni of the Grateful Dead plus guitarist John Mayer, was slated to headline the 2020 Jazz Fest’s second Saturday.
Based on gaps in the band’s fall tour schedule, Dead & Company could appear at the 2021 Jazz Fest on either weekend, though Saturday, Oct. 9 seems most likely.
Stevie Nicks, another big name act from the lost 2020 Jazz Fest, headlines both Sundays of the Austin City Limits Festival. ACL’s second weekend, Oct. 8-10, overlaps with Jazz Fest’s first weekend. Nicks could easily play both events. (She’s also at the BottleRock and Jazz Aspen festivals in early September and Shaky Knees on Oct. 22, so clearly she’s dialed in to the lucrative festival circuit.)
A recent article in the touring industry publication Pollstar about the Black Crowes stated the band would “headline” Jazz Fest between a North American amphitheater tour and the kick-off of a European arena tour on Oct. 21.
Erykah Badu and Kenner native and “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” bandleader Jon Batiste could also make up their missed 2020 Jazz Fest shows by zipping over to New Orleans from Austin City Limits.
Jazz Fest could also add a couple of other Austin City Limits acts. Black Pumas and Band of Horses would work well at the Fair Grounds, although Band of Horses is already booked at the Fillmore New Orleans on Oct. 1.
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Like Stevie Nicks, would-be 2020 Jazz Fest headliners Lizzo, Foo Fighters and Brittany Howard are hitting multiple festivals this fall. Lizzo is booked at Bonnaroo in early September, Firefly in late September and Outside Lands on Halloween weekend. The Foos are at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and BottleRock. Howard is bound for Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and Outside Lands.
Will they make up their Jazz Fest gigs as well?
Jason Isbell wasn’t booked at Jazz Fest last year, but he has an isolated Oct. 8 show in Brandon, Mississippi. That would make for an easy drive to the Fair Grounds that same weekend.
Similarly, Tame Impala has a free date Oct. 16 between shows in Atlanta and Orlando.
Other Jazz Fest acts from 2020 are also possibilities for this fall. The Avett Brothers have open dates corresponding to both Jazz Fest weekends. But the tour itineraries for several other canceled 2020 acts, including Brandi Carlile and the Lumineers, don’t seem conducive to a Jazz Fest stop.
Others, such as The Who, haven’t announced any plans for the fall, although Who singer Roger Daltrey will be touring in August and September with his solo band.
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Who-ever – get it? – ends up at the Fair Grounds, a number of clubs and theaters have already announced their plans for nighttime shows during Jazz Fest. From the Revivalists at the Fillmore New Orleans to Trombone Shorty at the Saenger Theatre to the Radiators at the Civic Theatre, local heavyweights and touring acts have already put tickets on sale for many nighttime shows.
And soon enough, we’ll also know who’s performing during the day.