That persistent 2019 New Orleans Jazz Fest rumor about the band with the multiword name that starts with “R”? It is absolutely true.
The Rebirth Brass Band will DEFINITELY be on the schedule.
Who else will populate stages at the big 50th anniversary Jazz Fest, which expanded to eight days at the Fair Grounds from April 25 to May 5? Probably Galactic, Trombone Shorty, Irma Thomas, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Eric Lindell and all the other local favorites who make up the foundation of the festival.
Does a kerfuffle over the WWOZ Brass Pass program hint that something very special, and very different, is on tap for the 2019 New Orleans Jaz…
But the visiting Big Name Acts generate the most discussion and speculation. With the festival’s producers pulling out all the stops for their golden anniversary, this promises to be a big year for big acts. And the second Thursday, May 2, will likely be a very big day, with a special schedule and premium ticket price.
Nothing is official until Jazz Fest unveils its lineup in January. But based on touring schedules, the festival’s aesthetic, credible rumors, common sense and a bit of wishful thinking, here are the odds on 10 possibilities.
Odds: Better than even.
So far, a giant tongue logo has not appeared, Bat signal-style, in the sky above the Fair Grounds. But plenty of other clues point to the Rolling Stones performing at Jazz Fest.
A gap in the Stones’ spring tour schedule between Houston on April 28 and Arizona on May 7 makes a Thursday, May 2, stop in New Orleans feasible. That day, WWOZ’s Brass Passes won’t be valid, seemingly confirming this will be a special, “premium” day, a 50th anniversary blowout with at least one mega-act. AEG, the worldwide live entertainment powerhouse that co-produces Jazz Fest with Quint Davis’ Festival Productions Inc., is promoting the Stones’ upcoming tour. And Mick Jagger included New Orleans in a promotional song that cited the cities on the band’s upcoming itinerary.
All four principal Stones are well into their 70s, so something could always go awry. But assuming Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood stay healthy, they’ll make their Jazz Fest debut this year. Start me up.
The Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man is one of the last of his peers — hugely popular classic rock acts who made their bones in the '60s and '70s, yet remain credible live attractions — who has yet to headline the festival. Seger has said his 2019 tour will be his last. That tour’s itinerary includes a May 2 stop in Houston, which would make a second weekend appearance at Jazz Fest mighty convenient. I predicted Seger for the 2018 Jazz Fest, only to see his tour delayed by back surgery. Here's hoping he makes it this time.
Carlos Santana is the equivalent of Jazz Fest comfort food. He was a festival favorite for a while, cycling through every couple of years with an Afro-Cuban/Latin/world music medley of guitar rock that sounded right at home on the Fair Grounds. Aesthetically, it makes sense to bring back some Jazz Fest favorites for the 50th anniversary. That Santana has an April 27 gig in Mississippi means he’ll be in the neighborhood during the first weekend.
Not much of a risk to predict Jimmy Buffett at Jazz Fest. He is a longtime friend of the festival; at one point, he was even in discussions to become a producing partner, before his pal Quint Davis opted for AEG. Buffett shows up and hangs out at the Fair Grounds even in years when he’s not on the bill. He won’t miss the 50th anniversary. That he’s booked at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama, on Tuesday, April 23, two days before Jazz Fest opens, makes his appearance more or less inevitable.
Throughout the past decade, Jazz Fest has occasionally featured prominent country artists. Kenny Chesney is one of contemporary country’s most popular hitmakers; he generally headlines stadiums, including Tiger Stadium for another Quint Davis/AEG production, the Bayou Country Superfest. Thus, a relationship with the Chesney camp is already in place.
He’s booked in Tallahassee, Florida, on April 26, then Orange Beach, Alabama, on April 27. If he’s up for four shows in four days, he could close out Jazz Fest’s first weekend by headlining the Acura Stage on Sunday, April 28.
Tipitina’s employees met Monday for the first time with their new bosses — bosses they already knew in a different context: as musicians.
Jazz Fest’s designated jam band representative seemed to be on an every-other-year cycle for a while. They’re due for a return and already have a couple of festival weekends on the books for April, including April 19-21 in Atlanta and April 27-28 in Charleston, S.C.
The nouveau soul star’s ambitious spring tour cuts across the Southeast in April. He’s in Memphis on April 24, then Houston on April 26, meaning an opening-day stop at Jazz Fest on Thursday, April 25, is feasible. He’d provide a youthful counterbalance to older acts on the bill and would play well on either the Gentilly Stage — he was there in 2017 — or Congo Square.
Dave Matthews Band
Another latter-day Jazz Fest regular, the Dave Matthews Band always draws big crowds for its Fair Grounds appearances, including one memorable set delivered in a torrential downpour. The DMB wraps up a European tour on April 6 but has announced no plans beyond that.
The Boss forever etched his name in Jazz Fest lore via his epic set with the Seeger Sessions Band in 2006, the first after Hurricane Katrina. He’s returned twice more with the E Street Band. With his much-acclaimed, one-man Broadway show wrapping up Dec. 15, he’ll need something to keep himself busy in 2019. That might include releasing an allegedly completed solo album and hitting the road to promote it and/or the 35th anniversary of his landmark “Born in the U.S.A.” album. Playing “Born in the U.S.A.” in its entirety at Jazz Fest would be epic. But so far, he’s announced no definitive plans for next year.
Paul McCartney, Fleetwood Mac, Pink, the Foo Fighters
Odds: Forget about it.
None of them will be at Jazz Fest, as they’re all booked for other New Orleans appearances in 2019. But there’s always 2020.
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Note: This story has been updated to reflect that Jazz Fest has pushed back its talent announcement until January.