The lineup for the 2023 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will be revealed on Friday.
Many of the names on that list will be familiar, as the majority of the performance slots are filled by local artists. Trying to discover the big name acts that will headline the main stages is even more challenging.
Ahead of Friday’s announcement, here are my thoughts on the several Rectangle names that definitely won’t be on the list, along with a few that might be.
This will not be the year in which the President appears for the fourth time on the fairgrounds, for obvious reasons: on April 28, the opening day of the Jazz Festival, he will be in Spain to start a European tour. In the festival’s second weekend, he played multiple shows in Dublin.
Sorry, Swifties, that’s not happening.
Yes, it was Taylor Hanging out in new orleans in decembergoing to Preservation Hall, recording at Esplanade Studios, and going to dinner with her boyfriend who was shooting a movie here.
And yes, AEG Presents, the same company that co-produced Jazz Fest, is also producing the record-breaking North American Eras Tour, which kicks off in March.
And yes, Team Swift does have a history with Quint Davis Festival productions. She performed twice at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge for the now-defunct Bayou Country Superfest, which was produced by Davis and his company.
All of this is baffling.
But in the final analysis, the logistics are very daunting.
It plays Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta every three nights of the first weekend of the Jazz Festival and Nissan Stadium in Nashville Friday through Sunday of the second weekend.
That in and of itself isn’t a deal breaker. She couldn’t play a normal day at a jazz festival anyway – she’s just too famous.
The only conceivable way to introduce Swift at Jazz Fest would be a special, standalone “feature day,” like the Thursday the Rolling Stones were planned for in 2019 or the Wednesday the Stones would have played at the COVID-cancelling fall 2021 Jazz Fest. Tickets will be very expensive, and only a limited number of them will be sold.
But such a show would require Swift to perform without the elaborate theatrical productions she would be putting out on her Eras Tour. She would also have to break out of her touring routine of only playing on weekends (except for the Los Angeles final) to do a midweek jazz festival.
Given the Atlanta and Nashville dates already on the books, that would require her to perform seven grueling, stadium-sized gigs in the space of 10 days.
That will be hard. And there’s no real incentive for her to disrupt the routine of the year’s most lucrative tour just to squeeze in stripped-down festival history.
In other words, go ahead and plan your trip to Houston, Dallas, or Atlanta, because Taylor won’t be coming to New Orleans.
Unless, of course, you want to hang out again in the Preservation Hall.
The verdict: Probably not.
Compared to his boyfriend Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran is a slacker. On his upcoming North American tour, he plays mostly on single nights – Saturdays – at soccer stadiums.
This tour kicks off May 6 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. In theory, he could play a warm-up show the Saturday before at Jazz Fest.
Sheeran is familiar with the Jazz Festival. His fans swept the Gentilly Stage to see him back in 2015, when he had released just two albums. Its popularity has only increased since then.
At this point, he might be too popular for an ordinary day at Jazz Fest, even on the main stage. He’s drawn a crowd at least as big as Elton John’s in 2015, but he’s much younger.
Like Swift, it doesn’t make sense for him to deviate from his tour routine in the stadium, especially when he’s likely to be in that tour’s final rehearsals. But there is more opportunity than Taylor to do so.
Verdict: It would make sense.
Led Zeppelin and Rush called it quits after the death of their drummers. But on New Year’s Eve, the Foo Fighters announced plans to continue as a band in the wake of the tragic death of drummer Taylor Hawkins.
Hawkins, as much a rock fan as he was a rock star, didn’t want the band he had helped propel to a position of world domination to disappear.
On Tuesday, Foos confirmed he wouldn’t. They announced their upcoming appearances at three festivals: Boston Calling on May 26, Sonic Temple in Columbus, Ohio, on May 28, and Bonnaroo in Tennessee on June 18.
Foos was slated to be a headliner at the 2022 Jazz Festival; News that they had canceled all remaining shows for that year in the wake of Hawkins’ death broke during the Jazz Festival press conference 30 days before the gates opened.
A month later, Dave Grohl, other members of the band, and Hawkins’ widow attended the Jazz Festival alone to watch from the stands as the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed at the Foo Fighters venue.
It will be especially touching if the band’s comeback tour includes the Jazz Festival. Whether that fits with the overall strategy and schedule of relaunching one of the biggest rock bands in the world remains to be seen.
Mitt and co.?
Verdict: Leaning yes.
The Grateful Dead-based Dead & Company, featuring guest guitarist John Mayer along with Dead vets Bob Weir, Mikey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, is booked at both the 2020 and 2021 Jazz Festivals, which were both canceled due to COVID . Not available in 2022.
Dead & Company kicks off their latest tour May 19 at The Forum in LA, so they’ll have to prepare two weeks in advance to schedule a Jazz Fest. Given that this is likely the last chance to have one of the major Grateful Dead derivative bands at the festival, it looks like both sides will be eager to make it happen.
Verdict: Leaning yes.
Lizzo was booked at the Fair Grounds in both 2020 and 2021, only to see both shows, along with the entire festival, which has been blighted by the pandemic. It wasn’t available to make up the date in 2022, but this year looks a lot more promising.
The North American tour kicked off on April 21 in Knoxville, Tennessee. After a hiatus on April 26 in Memphis, she did not have another ad showing until May 4 in Montreal. This directive appears to be made for delivery to the Fair Grounds on the first weekend of the Jazz Festival.
Verdict: It is possible.
Like Lizzo, Dead & Company, she was booked into a jazz festival that was canceled by COVID, but wasn’t available in 2022. She has a few concert dates on her calendar for 2023. Those dates include a stop in Miramar Beach, Florida, over the weekend. The week of May 12th. She doesn’t have announced shows on either Jazz Festival weekend, so it appears she’s available to make up the date.
Kenny Chesney, Kane Brown or Thomas Rhett?
Referee: Chesney? Mostly not. Wright? Mostly not. Brown? Maybe so.
A jazz festival often features a single country act at arena level. Last year it was Luke Combs. In 2019 it was Chris Stapleton.
Kenny Chesney, Ken Brown, and Thomas Rhett are all on the road this spring. Chesey’s I Look Back Tour will stop in Greenville, South Carolina on April 27 and Greensboro, North Carolina on April 29. Can he fly to New Orleans overnight to schedule an April 30 fairground date? It is theoretically possible, though it would be a long time for his crew. By May 4th, he’s in Illinois, so his second weekend is definitely over.
Thomas Rhett launched the tour May 4 in Des Moines, Iowa. He could do a warm-up date at the Jazz Fest the weekend before. But his tour is already scheduled to arrive in Lafayette on June 16, Bossier City on June 17 and Biloxi on July 13. I suspect he pre-empted those shows with a jazz festival look.
Kane Brown, who played Smoothie King Center in October 2021, is in California during the first weekend of the Jazz Festival. But he’s booked in Bossier City on May 6, which means Fair Grounds could stop either on May 4, May 5 or May 7. Last year, Combs headlined the main stage of the Thursday Jazz Festival. Kane Brown could do the same slot on Thursday this year.
Verdict: It is possible.
The Killers wrap up their month-long North American tour on April 2 in Mexico. However, they are also set to play on May 5 at the Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta, before launching a European tour on August 26.
It would make more sense both logistically and financially for them to regroup for two festivals between tours in North America and Europe, rather than just one. Especially if those two touring dates are on the same weekend and are within easy driving distance of each other.
The Killers haven’t performed in New Orleans since performing a killer show at the 2017 Voodoo Music Experience in City Park. They were late for their return visit.
The verdict: Probably not. But you never know.
In his heart, Quint Davis would definitely love the Rolling Stones to perform at the Jazz Festival. He booked them three times, only for all three to fail (once for Mick Jagger’s heart surgery, and twice for COVID).
Will it be this year? In a short video posted Wednesday to Twitter, guitarist Keith Richards said new music is coming in 2023, and that “we hope to see you,” most likely on tour. “Let’s put our hands crossed.”
If the stones plan to hit the road, this will be a well-kept secret that will come as a great surprise.
But the Jazz Festival loves surprises.