The Natchitoches Jazz/R&B Festival has announced its headliners for its 20th Anniversary event, which will be held on the downtown Natchitoches Riverbank on April 17th and 18th. For the first time ever, it features three platinum selling artists: .38 Special, Mitch Ryder, and Joey Molland’s Badfinger. Legendary rock group .38 Special will headline this years festival on Saturday, April 18th. .38 Special was formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1974 and it’s first two albums reflected a strong southern rock influence. By the early 1980’s, the band shifted to a more accessible arena rock style without abandoning its southern rock roots. This shift helped to usher in a string of successful albums and singles. Their breakthrough hits were “Hold on Loosely” (1981), “Caught Up In You” (1982) and “If I’d Been The One” (1983) all of which hit No. 1 on Billboard Magazine’s Album Rock Tracks chart. “Second Chance” was a No.1 hit on Billboard’s adult contemporary chart in 1989. .38 Special has had many other charting hits over the years and continues to be an in-demand touring band.
Also, on Saturday, April 18th, sixties platinum-selling artist Mitch Ryder will be belting out the high energy hits he made popular with his band, The Detroit Wheels. In the midst of the British music invasion, Ryder stayed true to his rock and soul roots, and cranked out several charting singles most notably “Devil With a Blue Dress On” which hit number 4 in 1966. Ryder and his Detroit Wheels also hit the top ten on the National charts with “Jenny Take a Ride” and “Sock It to Me Baby” and had many other charting singles. Ryder will be backed at the festival by Jonny Earthquake & The Moondogs and will present the same high-energy hit-packed show he’s made famous for over 50 years.
On Friday, April 17th, the legendary British rock band, Joey Molland’s Badfinger, will be presenting a bit of rock and roll history to the festival goers. Badfinger was the first band signed by the Beatles new record company, Apple, in 1969. Paul McCartney game them a song he had written “Come and Get It” and asked them to record it and offered to produce it. “Come and Get It” became a world-wide hit in 1970 and set off a string of huge hits from 1970-1972 including “No Matter What”, “Day After Day” (produced by George Harrison) and “Baby Blue”. In 2013 “Baby Blue” made a resurgence on to the “Hot Rock Songs” Billboard 100 chart at number 14 due to its feature at the end of the series finale of the hit TV show “Breaking Bad”. Badfinger’s song “Without You” hit the top of the charts twice, once for Harry Nilsson in 1972 and in 1994 for Mariah Carey. Joey Mollard, the leader of the modern version of Badfinger, is actually the only surviving original member having been the group’s original lead guitarist and vocalist. The band’s show, in the addition to being filled with its popular hits, also features Molland sharing interesting anecdotes and stories about his time working with The Beatles.
Festival Chairman, Rodney Harrington says that the organizers are very excited about this year’s musical lineup. “We felt we wanted to knock it out of the park for our 20th year and we think we’ve done that with not one, not two, but THREE legendary artists who had hit songs from the 60’s all the way into the 2000’s” Harrington said. “As always, the Festival will feature a wide variety of Rhythm & Blues, Jazz, Rock & Roll, Country, Zydeco, and much much more with over 25 bands performing on the four stages. We like to say that the real star of the show is the venue”, Harrington continued. “The downtown Cane River Bank area together with the historic district has a vibe that can’t be duplicated.”