NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Country music comes center stage in New Orleans when the Bayou Country Superfest returns to the Superdome for the Memorial Day weekend.
County icon George Strait headlines the event Sunday. Chris Stapleton, Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves and Midland round out the bill.
The weekend begins Friday night with "A Salute to America" fireworks display over the Mississippi River at Woldenberg Park, weather permitting.
"Bayou Saturday Night," was moved from Champions Square — an outdoor venue next to the Superdome — to inside the Smoothie King Arena due to the weather forecast. That free Saturday night show features Randy Houser, Michael Ray. Runaway June, Sheriff Bud Torres and the Victory Belles. Gates open at 6 p.m.
The New Orleans Advocate reports the music festival could be the final one in New Orleans — or the final one period.
The first seven editions played out at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. In 2017, off-season renovations to the stadium forced the festival to move to New Orleans.
Attendance for the first one in New Orleans, which featured Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Thomas Rhett, Brooks & Dunn and Hank Williams Jr., totaled about 60,000. That amounted to the third consecutive year of declining attendance for the Superfest, which is co-produced by Quint Davis' Festival Productions Inc.-New Orleans and AEG Live, in conjunction with the Messina Group.
Given the downward attendance trajectory, questions arose about whether the festival would return this year. The availability of Strait, one of country music's most successful and respected artists, apparently made at least a one-day 2018 festival feasible.
At 66, Strait still stands tall as an unflappable icon of Texas dancehall country music. At the outset of his career, his button-down, modest, traditional style contrasted with the slick, shiny rhinestone country-pop of the early '80s. He's outlasted that and other trends, including the more recent "bro-country," with its backward baseball caps, bombastic production and lyrics that often objectify women.
Strait, by contrast, sticks to a cowboy hat onstage. He embraces a more subtle, courtly form of courtship, expressed in plain-spoken story-songs. And his Ace in the Hole Band favors pedal steel guitar and fiddles over distorted hard rock guitars and heavy metal drumming.
That approach has served him exceedingly well. He's reportedly charted more No. 1 singles than any artist in any genre. In 1999 and 2001, he brought his traveling country music festival — essentially a precursor to the Bayou Country Superfest — to the Superdome, drawing big crowds each time.
Information from: The New Orleans Advocate, http://www.neworleansadvocate.com