Willie Nelson and Melissa Etheridge cancel New Orleans Jazz Fest performances due to COVID

NEW ORLEANS — Willie Nelson is canceling an upcoming performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and postponing other shows after his band tested positive for the coronavirus.

The 89-year-old musician posted on his band’s website on Friday that “due to a positive Covid case in the Willie Nelson Family Band” two upcoming shows scheduled for May 6 and 7 would be postponed and that Nelson’s performance would be cancelled on Sunday at the Jazz Fest would be cancelled.

Nelson was due to close the Gentilly Stage – the same stage his son Lukas Nelson performed with his band The Promise of the Real earlier in the day. No replacement for the elder Nelson has yet been announced.

The news comes after Melissa Etheridge announced on Thursday that she will not be able to perform at Jazz Fest on Saturday because “COVID is hitting my crew”. Mavis Staples will perform during this time instead.

Melissa Etheridge
Melissa Etheridge has also canceled the festival because her crew has been affected by the coronavirus.
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New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
Several acts have been canceled at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival due to COVID-19.
Amy Harris/Invision/AP

“Oh, my heart hurts not being there. Mavis will be great, I know. I hope that I can be asked again. Dave and his crew are recovering. Thank you for all the good wishes. COVID Heartbreak,” Etheridge tweeted after it was announced that Staples would be appearing on Saturday.

Also on Friday, legendary New Orleans bassist George Porter Jr. said on Instagram that he has the coronavirus and will be out for the rest of the festival.

The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported that Porter played several shows during the first weekend of Jazz Fest and had a series of performances scheduled outside of the festival during the second weekend.

The seven-day festival began on Friday April 29th and will end on Sunday May 8th.

Luke Nelson, Willie Nelson and Micah Nelson
Willie Nelson has been booked to close out the festival on the same stage as his son Lukas Nelson will play earlier in the day.
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New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival draws tens of thousands of people.

The event draws tens of thousands to the city’s Fair Grounds Race Course, where up to 80 daily musical performances perform on more than a dozen stages, complemented by arts and crafts exhibits and an array of food stands 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 array of musical talent and genres found in Louisiana such as zydeco, gospel, blues and of course jazz.

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