For music lovers around the world, New Orleanians at home and abroad, and all others that can’t seem to eat enough Crawfish Monica any other time of year, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, will not only mark the release of this year’s JazzFest line-up but also an official beginning to the countdown when the hallowed names that unfurl before your very ears get cubed and slotted into what day and time in just a few short weeks. For me, I always find it kind of fun to predict, wonder, and generally kvetch over the money headliners that bring in the almighty dollar usually and unfortunately overshadowing the amazing city, state, and otherwise regional talent our slice of heaven has on tap. So without further ado, to follow are my guesses of possible headlining acts that could very well perform. And to be perfectly clear I have no affiliation with JazzFest nor am I privvy to any insider info. These are just my ramblings, though who knows, they could actually pan out. Why not?
(1) Barry Manilow I see Barry in our future not only because he’s always ready to take a chance again, but he’ll be on tour and not too far away from us around this time. Also, he’s the perfect older, white, hits-a-plenty sanitary component akin to if not the junior of Tony Bennet that played not too long ago; formulaically, it works. Plus, frankly, and no offense to Mr. Manilow, a New Orleans audience might not otherwise queue up to see him. A set from Barry is a real commitment, and unless he’s already playing and you’re already there do you really see yourself some time in the near future plunking down some Jeffersons to get an unforgettable rendition of Copa Cabana? Methinks not.
(2) The Black Keys Correct me if I’m wrong, but The Black Keys have never played JazzFest. Not even once. Not even a little. Yes, they’ve played The Crescent City more than a few times, most recently for free this past spring as a part of the NCAA basketball hoo-ha the city is known to host. It’s time. They too, are on tour, and suspiciously they aren’t announced as playing here – - - yet. Which is odd, because The Big Easy loves the boys from Akron. From their Voodoo, HOB, and CAC appearances (even at Twi-Ro-Pa before all those, remember that?! Remember Twi-Ro-Pa!??), it is clear New Orleans can get enough. I know I can’t. Love these guys.
(3) Fleetwood Mac A-ha!!! Got your attention now, don’t I! Again, touring, and again, no New Orleans date announced. Hmmm more than a little curious, wouldn’t you say? JazzFest would be the perfect venue to showcase the catalog of these guys. I predict they’d close with “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.” I mean, they’d have to, right? And maybe they’d open with “Tusk.” I have to say, if the Mac is playing NOLA this go, I’ll be present. I’ve always loved Fleetwood and never had the opportunity to enjoy a set from them. Crossing my fingers here.
(4) The Flaming Lips A little bit a wild card here, but could be a little like when Phish played, however maybe not so stinky. You see, The Flaming Lips are on tour with The Black Keys, and just like the fellas from Ohio, the guys from Oklahoma have also never played JazzFest. And yet they’d pack’em in like Arcade Fire or Bon Iver. Quint Davis and his advisors are smart enough to know you gotta go for that Gen X and Gen Y dollar, ‘cuz it’s there and will virtually spend itself; you just have to have the right-sized net to capture. A set from The Flaming Lips would make this year at the fairgrounds pretty incredible.
(5) Taylor Swift No stranger to New Orleans and good golly what a fit she’d be. The timing is ideal given her tour and again suspiciously no New Orleans date on her itinerary.
(6) Carrie Underwood Ditto.
(7) Rod Stewart Young hearts be free tonight! When was the last time ol’ Rod played here? I have no idea, but again on tour and with no NOLA appearance. Rod Stewart could easily anchor an early evening set and leave’em wanting more is all I’m saying. Plus as a newfound crooner of older material before his time (insert second Tony Bennet reference here) paired with his top 40 pedigree, I am imagining ample dancing and sing along. This one would be fun!
(8) Steve Winwood Mr. Winwood is on tour with Mr. Stewart. Duh. Roll with it, baby.
(9) Bob Seger An American legend that’ll be touring this spring, so why wouldn’t he? And why wouldn’t you? I wouldn’t look for theme song from Beverly Hills Cop II in the setlist, but who can say? Busted.
(10) Crosby, Stills, Nash Allow me to hang my hat here. CSN has announced a tour that will begin in Florida when? Are you ready? The last day of JazzFest! Providing them ample time to close out any of the other 6 days. I’d say this one is a lock and super apropos for the median dollar that really sustains the fest. Plus when it came time to sing the lyric By the time we got to Woodstock, what a waste of a moment if they don’t insert JazzFest, right?
So those are my thoughts. Sadly, I think it’ll be another Beck-less year, and I’m also kinda curious if we’ll get a rain day or two. The fest has had some some pretty clear days this last little while, but no gravy train runs forever. But we shall see, and we shall see what tomorrow’s line-up announcement. I may be right; I may be crazy.
Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.