It’s coming — the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will reveal the lineup for its 50th anniversary fest in January.
So, who’s playing? The famously tight-lipped festival hasn’t dropped any hints, but, as usual, there’s been plenty of nothing-based speculation all over the internet and above water coolers.
Festival organizers were tentatively planning to release the lineup this month, roughly a month earlier than in previous years. But the Fest announced Dec. 7 that the reveal would arrive roughly in the same timeframe as previous years. Next year's dates are Thursday-Sunday, April 25-28 and May 2- 5.
The big rumor that isn’t really a rumor anymore but will remain unconfirmed until it’s not: The Rolling Stones are expected to headline the festival’s second Thursday, typically the “locals” day, prompting organizers to add another Thursday and open a day earlier, instead of on a Friday. Brass Pass holders were notified that their passes can’t be used on the second Thursday, suggesting the fest is changing up ticketing and other festival rules for the Stones’ headlining slot.
Is Jazz Fest pulling out all the stops for its 50th anniversary, or scaling “down” with a local- and history-minded mix, with the Rolling Stones at top billing, or will 2019 be another dip into a boomer zeitgeist with a handful of current artists of dubious relevance.
Let’s irresponsibly churn that delicious mill.
That persistent 2019 New Orleans Jazz Fest rumor about the band with the multiword name that starts with “R”? It is absolutely true.
Santana is on tour in Georgia and Mississippi during Jazz Fest, so he could make an appearance at the Fair Grounds in that stretch.
Rosanne Cash also has a gap in her tour between April 27 and May 10.
Some other big names also are on the road next spring, including Carrie Underwood, whose tour begins the second week of Jazz Fest, and Cher, who has a gap in her 2019 tour between May 2 and May 8.
Country music giant Garth Brooks also is on the road in 2019, but his presence on the Fair Grounds could single-handedly force New Orleans into the sea.
Bob Seger’s 2019 farewell tour has a massive gap between March and May, so perhaps he’ll use the time to cut off the sleeves of every Harley Davidson T-shirt at the Fair Grounds.
Soul and R&B singer Leon Bridges also is touring through the south next spring with his 2018 album “Good Thing.” He sold out a swooning crowd at Tipitina’s in 2015 and is due for a return visit.
Then there are the jam bands — Phish bassist Mike Gordon is playing The Joy Theater during the festival’s second week (May 3), and heads are anticipating the band to headline Bonnaroo, fueling speculation that the band will also play Jazz Fest.
Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh and his Terrapin Family Band also are playing The Joy Theater during the Fest (April 25-26); fellow Dead Bob Weir has made recent New Orleans stops with his Campfire Band and Dead & Co., and Lesh and Weir performed a string of duo dates together in early 2018 — fans are speculating a “reunion” at Jazz Fest.
Widespread Panic also is playing festival dates next spring with nothing announced after April 28.
Bob Dylan and Neil Young are headlining the U.K. that summer; both are Jazz Fest veterans and due for a return visit.
Indie rock dads The National and My Morning Jacket also are touring that summer, and so is Phil Collins, taking his “Still Not Dead Yet” tour (lol) through the U.S. and Europe.
In the Jazz Tent: Medeski, Martin & Wood released a new album in 2018, August’s “Omnisphere,” and have some dates announced for 2019. Pat Metheny also has is touring across the globe in 2019, with his announced U.S. dates ending mid-April.
Power-pop sister-trio Haim toured through the U.S. earlier this year in support of “Something to Tell You.” They’re due for a visit down south.
Unlikely, but with no rescheduled dates in sight, Nicki Minaj and Future could consider parlaying a canceled North American tour (they were supposed to co-headline the Smoothie King Center in October) into a big weekend at the Fair Grounds.
Perennial Fest favorite Jimmy Buffett is always worth throwing into your Fest fantasy pool, because Bayou Wear shirts do not sell themselves. Then there are the usual suspects — Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, Los Lobos, James Taylor and Elvis Costello, all of whom are circulating among rumor-filled internet holes.
My humble last-minute booking recommendations nobody is asking for:
Mitski’s 2018 album “Be the Cowboy” is among the year’s best; she’s on tour through early 2019. The singer-songwriter and Julia Holter, who also is on tour next year after the release of her mammoth double LP “Aviary,” would make excellent, late-afternoon sunset soundtracks from the Gentilly Stage.
Canadian national treasure Carly Rae Jepsen also is prepping a new album for 2019 and would light up that stage as a closing act, or even on a midday slot on the Acura Stage.
Anderson .Paak also is on tour in early 2019. His 2016 Voodoo Experience set was a weekend highlight, and after the release of his acclaimed 2018 album “Oxnard” and recent appearance on “Saturday Night Live” he seems like a no-brainer to headline the Congo Square stage.
Singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis has a break in her tour between April 19 and May 9. She’s touring with the release of her fourth album, “On the Line,” due early next year.
While we’re talking why-nots, let’s throw Spiritualized in the mix. The band is on tour through April 19. Jazz Fest, you wanna snag them up, too?