After a year’s hiatus because of Covid, the Board of Directors of the Natchitoches Jazz/R&B Festival have announced that they are planning to hold their event on Saturday, May 22nd on the downtown Natchitoches Riverbank. This year, unlike in past years, the Festival will be a one-day event. According to Festival Chairman, Rodney Harrington, the lineup on the main stage features artists who are sure to appeal to practically every musical taste.
“We really feel like we’ve hit a homerun this year with our lineup,” said Harrington. “Since we had to take a year off last year, we felt like we had to come back with a bang and were able to book a couple of artists that we have been trying for years to get but we were finally able to get on board. It’s going to be a fantastic day.”
The headliner for this year’s event is platinum-selling country star, Neal McCoy. McCoy, who hails from Longview, Texas, has had many songs on the country charts over the years, including a couple that made it all the way to #1. His live shows are legendary for their high energy.
Peter Rivera, the original lead singer of 70’s hit-making band, Rare Earth, will be appearing with Johnny Earthquake and The Moondogs and performing his band’s many hits. Rare Earth, which was signed to the Motown Records Label, had a number of Top 40 Rock/R&B hits in the early 70’s including “Get Ready” and “I Just Want to Celebrate” both of which reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Charts.
Dwayne Dopsie of Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers hails from one of the most influential Zydeco families in the world. Although inspired by tradition, Dwayne, a two-time Grammy Nominee, has developed his own high-energy style that defies existing stereotypes and blazes a refreshingly distinct path for twenty-first century Zydeco music.
The Back In Black Tribute Band is in an incredible, exciting high-energy reproduction of a concert performance of AC/DC. They are so authentic that their lead singer was once invited to audition for the real AC/DC. For twenty years Back In Black has simply been the next best thing to AC/DC.
Natchitoches band, Johnny Earthquake and The Moondogs is often thought of as the “house band” for the Jazz Festival, being the only group to perform in all 23 festivals that have been held so far. The group that has been hailed by critics as “Quite simply, Louisiana’s best show band” has extended its reach far beyond its home base. The band’s “Great Outdoors Tour” this spring and summer will take it from Texas to Mississippi to the Florida beaches with several stops in between. They will perform a high-energy wide variety set of dance and party music.
The music will begin on the main stage on Festival day appropriately enough, with Jazz featuring the musical stylings of guitarist extraordinaire, Luke Brouillette, and his talented band LukeJazz. Luke will set the mood with an eclectic mix of classic Jazz standards with some modern numbers thrown in. Always a crowd favorite.
Festival Entertainment Chairman, Phillip Wilkerson, says that the members of his committee are excited about the quality and variety of acts they were able to book.
“We always say you can’t please everyone,” said Wilkerson, “but I truly believe that there should be something in this year’s lineup that every music fan can enjoy.” Wilkerson pointed out the fact that on the main stage alone the groups would be performing Country, Jazz, R&B, Soul, Rock & Roll, and Zydeco. Wilkerson also pointed out that there would be continuous music throughout the day on two side stages as well featuring popular local and regional acts, and again appealing to a wide range of musical tastes.
“We will have over 15 bands on 3 stages,” said Wilkerson. “If you can’t find something in there you like, then you are probably not a fan of popular music.”
Harrington did mention that the Festival will be Covid complaint and follow all rules and regulations put in place by the Governor’s office and State Fire Marshal. He said that the Natchitoches Christmas Festival was successful in presenting riverbank events during December while following appropriate social distancing and crowd control guidelines.
“We hope that by May 22nd we are at the point to where we can let everyone have unrestricted access to the riverbank, but we will respect and follow the rules,” said Harrington.
“All we know is that we are hearing that people are ready to get back out and listen to live music and we are hearing from the artists that they can’t wait and are chomping at the bits to come to Natchitoches and give everyone a show.”