Willie Nelson Out With COVID-19 Case in Band, Zac Brown In – Sounderground

The Zac Brown Band will replace country legend Willie Nelson on the closing day of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Nelson canceled his Sunday (May 8) performance and postponed other shows after a positive case of the coronavirus in his band. The 89-year-old musician was slated to close the Gentilly Stage — the same stage where his son, Lukas Nelson, is performing earlier in the day with his band the Promise of the Real.

The Zac Brown Band is a country band from Atlanta that’s best known for hits like “Chicken Fried,” “Highway 20 Ride,” “Knee Deep” and “Goodbye in Her Eyes.”

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Melissa Etheridge also canceled her scheduled performance after members of her crew tested positive for COVID-19. Mavis Staples has been tapped to replace Etheridge in the Blues Tent on Saturday.

“Oh my heart hurts not to be there. Mavis will be amazing, I know. I am hoping I can be asked back again. Dave and crew are healing. Thank you for all the well wishes. COVID heartbreak,” tweeted Etheridge after news that Staples would appear on Saturday was announced.

The seven-day festival draws tens of thousands to the city’s Fair Grounds Race Course, where as many as 80 musical acts perform daily on more than a dozen stages, complemented by arts and crafts exhibits and an array of booths featuring foods from Louisiana and beyond. While it attracts national and international talent such as Nelson and Etheridge, the festival is also known for showcasing the wide gamut of musical talent and genres found in Louisiana such as zydeco, gospel, blues and of course, jazz.