In the course of several hours on Monday, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival lost its replacement May 2 headliner, then replaced the replacement.
The Rolling Stones were initially slated to headline the 50th anniversary Jazz Fest on Thursday, May 2, only to cancel so that 75-year-old frontman Mick Jagger could receive a replacement heart valve.
The Stones' replacement, announced late last week, was Fleetwood Mac.
But on Monday morning, Fleetwood Mac postponed the remaining dates on its spring tour because 70-year-old singer Stevie Nicks is reportedly battling the flu. The May 2 headlining show on Jazz Fest's Acura Stage was canceled outright.
Hours after making that announcement, Jazz Fest rolled out a replacement for Fleetwood Mac. Barring any further complications, Georgia jam-band Widespread Panic, a veteran of many previous Jazz Fests, will close out the Acura Stage on May 2 starting at 4:30 p.m.
Instead of the Rolling Stones, you'll hear "Rhiannon" at the 2019 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, courtesy of Fleetwood Mac.
The festival also overhauled the ticket pricing and procedures for that day. May 2 will now be another "Locals Thursday." Louisiana residents can buy up to two tickets that day at the gate for $50 apiece, as they can for the festival's opening Thursday, April 25.
May 2 will also no longer require a "day-specific" ticket. Day-specific tickets previously purchased for May 2 at $75 when Fleetwood Mac was the expected headliner can now be used any other day during the second weekend, or returned for a refund.
Any second-weekend ticket is now valid on May 2.
Additionally, tickets for children aged 2 to 10 will now be available for $5 at the gate for every day of the festival, including May 2.
Meanwhile, fans who bought premium-priced tickets specific to the now-scuttled "Rolling Stones Thursday" at Jazz Fest during January's pre-sale at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome cannot start receiving refunds at the Smoothie King Center until Wednesday.
Thus, festival fans find themselves in the unusual predicament of awaiting refunds for the original act after the replacement act has already canceled and been replaced, too.
For two major headliners to drop out of the same performance slot because of ailing singers is unprecedented in Jazz Fest's 50-year history.
The Rolling Stones plan to reschedule the other 16 concerts on the band's No Filter stadium tour. The Jazz Fest date could not be rescheduled.
Enter Fleetwood Mac, revealed last Thursday at the Rolling Stones' stand-in for what would be more like a "normal" day at the Fair Grounds.
Fleetwood Mac's status as Jazz Fest's saviors didn't last long. The first sign of trouble came on Friday, when the band postponed a show scheduled for that night at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center, as well as an April 9 night show in Boston.
On Monday, only four days after being trumpeted as the new May 2 headliner, the band announced that the handful of remaining dates on its spring tour were on hold. The arena shows would be rescheduled, but the Jazz Fest date could not be moved and was therefore canceled.
Moving swiftly, producers of the 2019 New Orleans Jazz Fest have booked a replacement for the replacement headliner on May 2: Widespread Panic.
A Fleetwood Mac representative released a statement Monday to Rolling Stone magazine that read in part, "As an update to previous Fleetwood Mac posts regarding a band member illness, Stevie Nicks has the flu. While she is feeling better already, management has consulted with her doctors and have decided to reschedule the remaining four shows of their North American tour to allow for her full recovery....
"Ticketholders will receive new dates and details shortly. Unfortunately the band will not be able to perform at Jazz Fest in New Orleans on May 2.”
Had Fleetwood Mac made it to the Fair Grounds, it would have been the band's second appearance in New Orleans in less than three months. The Mac headlined a sold-out Smoothie King Center show on Feb. 16.
Widespread Panic has never scored any sort of radio hit, and it has never achieved the sort of pop culture ubiquity enjoyed by the Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac. The band built its reputation, and its dedicated following, by touring, presiding over long, improvisation-filled sets, and allowing fans to tape concerts.
Widespread Panic has a long history in New Orleans that includes several multiple-night Halloween weekend stands at the UNO Lakefront Arena. For some of them, fans —many of whom follow the band like Grateful Dead fans of years past — camped out on the arena grounds in a makeshift parking lot village.
Widespread Panic has been a staple on the Acura Stage on the Thursday between Jazz Fest weekends for years, most recently in 2015 and 2017. After stepping away from the tradition of booking jam bands on that Thursday in 2018, the festival, by necessity, has returned to that philosophy this year.
Given Panic's penchant for long, improvisational sets, the band has been allotted the longest set of the entire Jazz Fest. The two-and-a-half-hour slot is 30 minutes more than either the Rolling Stones or Fleetwood Mac received.
The 50th anniversary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival opens on Thursday, April 25 at the Fair Grounds Race Course and runs through Sunday, May 5.
As big as the build-up was for the Rolling Stones' appearance at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the disappointment over the band’…