NEW ORLEANS – Willie Nelson is cancelling an upcoming performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival and postponing other shows after a positive case of the coronavirus in his band.
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 to happen May 6 and May 7 would be postponed and that Nelson's Sunday performance at Jazz Fest would be cancelled.
Nelson 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. No replacement for the elder Nelson has yet been announced.
The news comes after Melissa Etheridge announced Thursday that she would not be able to perform Saturday at Jazz Fest due to “COVID hitting my crew." Mavis Staples will perform during that time period instead.
“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.
Also on Friday, legendary New Orleans bass player George Porter Jr. said on Instagram that he had the coronavirus and was out for the rest of the festival. The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported that Porter played multiple shows during Jazz Fest's first weekend and had a number of performances scheduled outside the festival during the second weekend.
The seven-day festival started on Friday, April 29, and ends Sunday, May 8.
The event 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 art and craft 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.