Now that the calendar has flipped to 2014, focus for music fanatics around town (and worldwide for Fest patrons) turns toward speculation as to who will be rockin’ the Fairgrounds at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in late-April/early-May as the lineup announcement approaches. The artists listed below are by no means confirmed and, however unlikely some may be, it’s always fun to dream. Continue below for rumors, a few educated guesses, speculation and several you can chalk up to wishful thinking. Be sure to leave a comment with who you’d like to see this year — the lineup is expected to come out in mid-January.
One thing’s for sure: There will be gospel, blues and jazz tents, local food vendors and all the homegrown New Orleans music you could ever hope to hear. In the end, that’s all that really matters. See you in April!
WHY: After debuting at Jazz Fest as Friday afternoon headliners during the second weekend of the 2011 event, Arcade Fire is a pretty safe bet to return in 2014. The band has already announced a massive world tour in support of their 4th LP Reflektor that will route them through Nashville on May 1 and Atlanta on May 2. Logically, a NOLA appearance at this year’s Fest would be solid routing and the band appeared to thoroughly enjoy their last set at the Fest (where they were notably joined by Cyndi Lauper for a couple of songs).
WHY: Macca lit up the American festival circuit in 2013, playing landmark sets at Tennessee’s Bonnaroo festival and Outside Lands in SF’s Golden Gate Park. While Bruce Springsteen’s epic performances in 2006 and 2012 are highly regarded as two of the greatest (and most well-attended) main stage sets in the festival’s history, this Beatle taking the Acura Stage would likely trump anything before him and have people anywhere within earshot pulling out all the stops to catch a glimpse of the legend. Paul has a new record (aptly titled New) and I’ve heard more than a few folks around town rumbling about McCartney headlining Fest. I’ll believe it when I (hopefully) see it.
WHY: Slow Hand recently announced an international tour this winter/spring with an all-new band, and one would think that some U.S. dates and festival appearances should come into play soon. Clapton last played in the Big Easy in March 2013 at the New Orleans Arena. In recent years, two Clapton proteges have played the Fest (Gary Clark Jr. and John Mayer), so it would only be fitting to see the guitarist laying it down on the main stage.
WHY: Santana’s spring US tour routing certainly suggests that the possibility of a weekend one appearance (Nashville on Wednesday, 4/23 and St. Augustine, FL on Sunday, 4/27) at Fest wouldn’t be much of a stretch and given his track record of periodic appearances over the past 25 years (played in 1989, 1993, 1997, 1999, 2004 & 2008), this also seems like a fairly likely possibility.
TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS
WHY: After a triumphant headlining set in 2012, it would be great to see this timeless rock band return for an encore this spring. Petty had a super busy year in 2013 that included appearances at Hangout Fest and Bonnaroo and a pair of lengthy residencies in NYC and LA, so we wouldn’t fault the songwriter for taking it easy this year (currently no tour dates listed at TomPetty.com).
WHY: Could The Original lineup return to Jazz Fest once again? Always a distinct (albeit somewhat remote) possibility to see these fantastic funk forefathers playing together and it’s been several years since a Fest appearance (although the original lineup appeared together at a late-night club show during the 2012 festival). Doesn’t get a whole lot more quintessential Jazz Fest than these guys.
WHY: Jack White, in some form or another, has showed his chops at Jazz Fest a few times and it looks like 2014 will be a year devoted to reviving The Dead Weather (featuring Alison Mosshart, of The Kills and Discount). I’d be surprised if an offer wasn’t at least put in to lock down this supergroup, but whether or not it works out is another story.
WHY: A certain ATL duo has caused the early stir in 2014 on the live music circuit by announcing their return after nearly a decade of estrangement for an already confirmed appearance at Coachella this April. With Jazz Fest going down within the same month, it’s certainly not entirely outside the realm of possibilities to see Andre 3000 and Big Boi at the Fairgrounds, but I’d count this one as a
big long shot definite possibility, but no guarantee in light of Monday’s (1/13/14) announcement on the duo’s FB page that they’re planning a full festival run in 2014. Throw a penny in a fountain and make a wish, there’s no question this would be one to remember.
WHY: Although it doesn’t seem to be quite a lock just yet, there’s been a good bit of buzz surrounding a 2014 reunion tour by The Kinks and they’d certainly pique the interest of the Boomer crowd if this were to take place. However, if they haven’t committed to a reunion by now, it’s pretty unlikely that a 2014 JF appearance is on the agenda.
THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND
WHY: Once again, ABB is doing their annual lengthy residency at New York City’s Beacon Theater in early spring and therefore it’s a decent possibility that Gregg and Co. will once again reign over Jazz Fest. Always a perfect fit for the event and would fill the Southern jam band slot as well as any other. Moreover, with longtime members Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks calling it a career with the Allman Brothers, there’s a pretty decent chance that 2014 may be the last chance to ever see this legendary band together in New Orleans.
WHY: In only a handful of years, Vampire Weekend has gone from indie darlings of the blogosphere and pulse-tapping outlets like Pitchfork to bona fide festival headlining staples. Considering their previous two albums (Contra – 2011 | Modern Vampires of the City – 2013), this rise to superstardom and the biggest festival stages is certainly merited. This one is almost a sure bet based on the band’s spring tour routing. With stops in Austin, TX on 4/25 during weekend one (leaving open the possibility of a first Saturday or Sunday) and Miami on May 1st (with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th open before appearing in Atlanta on May 5th), either weekend is a distinct possibility. Further, those in attendance may be in for a treat and see some actual jazz – Vampire Weekend are slated to perform with members of GRAMMY Camp – Jazz session on January 22nd. You can just about take this one to the bank.
THE STRING CHEESE INCIDENT
WHY: Whether it’s Widespread Panic or The Radiators, you can generally count on one jam-oriented act closing out the Acura or Gentilly Stage one of the days and this is a rumor I don’t get tired of hearing. As for now, it’s only that, but don’t be too surprised to see a horde of hula hoopers out to see the barefoot boys from Colorado.
MY MORNING JACKET
WHY: It has been a welcome development over the past four years (ever since Jim James fell in love with the city of New Orleans) to have increasingly frequent visits from this eclectic Kentucky rock band, which made appearances in both 2010 and 2012. Their strong ties to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and a new record on the horizon certainly helps the chances of seeing my favorite band return to the Big Easy.
Other (unfounded) hopes, wishes and ideas:
The Nauts (Dave Matthews, Jakob Dylan, Charlie Sexton and Will Sexton)
Portugal. The Man
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Vieux Farka Toure
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Robert Glasper Experiment
The Howlin’ Brothers
The Bad Plus
Shovels and Rope
Tinariwen (announced show on the books at HoB NOLA on 4/24)
M. Ward or She & Him
Tallest Man On Earth
John Butler Trio
Hurray for the Riff Raff
Justin Townes Earle
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
Jessica Lea Mayfield
R. Scully’s Rough 7
If you have any other ideas, wishes, or rumors to share, we’d love to hear them in the comments section.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival takes place at the New Orleans Fairgrounds Race Course April 25-May 4th, 2014.