The Jazz Fest Landslide That Brought Widespread Panic

OK, let’s pick up where we left off last week.

First, a recap: Jazz Fest screwed its pooch this year by rearranging its world order to accommodate the Rolling Stones. If you read this blog then it’s clear you’ve got, well, time on your side. So you know what happened.

With my own personal misgivings aside: If any band that’s been shredding norms, defying gravity, the grim reaper and the hands of fate – and simply surviving – for 50 years as the Stones have, perhaps they are one of the last worthy rock dinosaurs to merit such tumultuous fervor.

But then Mick Jagger has heart surgery. The Stones cancel. Quint Davis and the Jazz & Heritage Foundation don’t just wake up with egg on their faces, they’ve got bloody omelet facials.

Try to unsee that if you can.

And then, well, you already know the next part by now. Casting about to save face (sorry, not sorry) they book Fleetwood Mac. The softest and whitest band from the 70s musical pantheon; so soft and so white that their album covers were all soft and all white. Literally.

Aaaaand then….Yup. Fleetwood Mac cancels. This time Stevie Nicks has health issues. And it’s easy for backseat drivers to suggest that if everyone you book as a headliner for a major festival is a septagenerian, well: Hello Obamacare.

And – at least as of this writing – now we have Widespread Panic booked to fill that vaunted, haunted second Thursday headliner gig. They of epic noodling jams – the band that owns the record for the longest gig in Jazz Fest history (See: Acura Stage, 2017). At least, unlike the Stones and the Macs, these guys are younger than me, which gives them a better chance of staying alive for the next three weeks.

But, Ding Dang: What a cluster chunk this has all turned into.

Say you rearranged your life and job and family and shelled out a ton of dough for tickets, flights and lodgings to come see the Stones and then you sold the tickets back to whoever you got them from so somebody else buys those tickets, flights and lodgings to come see Fleetwood Mac but then they sell those tickets back and now someone else has paid for all of that stuff – minus the lodgings, because everyone knows Widespread Panic fans live in old VW vans and vintage yellow school busses – and who knows what will happen next?

What if John Bell (showing my Spreadhead chops here) gets sick – then what? Aerosmith? Sorry, they’ve signed on for an 8-month residency at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and no, I’m not making that up.

Following in the footsteps of Britney Spears, Celine Dion and Wayne Newton, Steve Tyler and the boys are gilding The Strip, America’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams, with “Dream On.”

By my reckoning, that leaves Three Dog Night. Except that Father Time and Mother Nature have thinned that classic rock band down to, I believe, it’s final founding member. One Dog Night.

And one is the loneliest number.

But at least that way, Jazz Fest can save a bundle on expenses and make some coin. And isn’t that what this whole debacle was all about from the beginning?


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