The 23rd Annual Natchitoches Jazz/R&B Festival will be held on the renovated downtown riverbank in Natchitoches Friday and Saturday, April 13-14, 2018 after a one-year hiatus and according to Festival Chairman, Rodney Harrington, this year’s event will feature the strongest lineup in the festival’s history.
“After taking the last year off during the riverbank renovation,” said Harrington, “we felt we needed to come back with the strongest lineup ever. We feel we have done that by booking not one, but two multi-platinum selling groups Starship featuring Mickey Thomas and the Ohio Players.”
Starship is a group that traces its roots back to the 60’s band Jefferson Airplane. When Jefferson Airplane split up in the 70’s, some of its members formed Jefferson Starship and the band hired Mickey Thomas as its lead singer. Thomas had achieved fame as the lead singer for the Elvin Bishop Group and you can hear his vocals on the #1 hit “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.”
With Thomas and former Jefferson Airplane icon Grace Slick handling the vocals, Jefferson Starship which later became just “Starship” proceeded to reel off a number of platinum-selling singles and albums which included the #1 hits “We Built This City,” “Sara,” and “Nothing Is Gonna Stop Us Now.”
The band’s show today is jam-packed with hits, spanning four decades, going back to Jefferson Airplane songs like “Don’t You Want Somebody To Love” and “White Rabbit” as well as all the Jefferson Starship and Starship hits which continued into the 1990’s.
Sharing the stage with Starship on April 14th will be the legendary multi-platinum selling Funk, Soul, and R&B band, the Ohio Players.
The Ohio Players who are members of the R&B Music Hall of Fame, were one of the most popular groups of the 70’s. At their height, they produced seventeen Top 40 hits which included the such #1 classics as “Fire,” “Love Rollercoaster,” and “Skin Tight.”
The Ohio Players are widely known for their high energy live shows, band leader and original member, drummer James “Diamond” Williams has a theory about why audiences come out to see the Ohio Players:
“Audiences want to see someone who has taken their life and their gift and perfected it. We can make music and create atmospheres and relate back and forth during the night. You feel good, you remember things that happened during a certain period of time, and it sounds like the record. And that’s what it’s all about. We are keeping the Funk alive.”
Harrington said that Friday night’s lineup will feature popular Grammy winning Zydeco artist Wayne Toups and his band Zydecajun along with the 80’s Hairband Tribute Group L.A. Roxx.
Local and regional favorites Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs, Badd Apple, The Hardrick Rivers’ Revue, Trini Triggs, and several others will also be featured, as well as a stage that features only jazz music all day.
Harrington says the newly renovated downtown riverbank may be the real star of the show this year.
“The fans concert-going experience is going to be greatly enhanced by the new riverbank,” said Harrington, “especially the new massive covered stage and the amphitheater seating.”
“For the first time in the history of the festival, reserved seating will be available,” he continued. “That is why it will be more important than ever to purchase reserved seat tickets in advance, as there are only a limited amount available.”