Harvest secures country singer as headliner

(William Cumming/AQ)

American folk-rock band Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats will no longer be headlining the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival, because of the death of the band’s producer, Richard Swift.

Swift died from hepatitis, liver and kidney distress on July 3.

The band was set to perform on the Friday night of Harvest in the Moose Light Blues tent, until the festival announced the cancellation on Aug. 2.

With only a month before Harvest, the festival acted quickly to secure country singer Sturgill Simpson a week later as a replacement headliner.

Brent Staeben, Harvest’s programming director, said Simpson is the right replacement for Rateliff.

“In searching for a replacement for Nathaniel Rateliff, we went looking for a performer who could deliver for our audiences and we’re confident Sturgill fills that need and fits perfectly into our already stellar line-up,” said Staeben.

Simpson has released three solo albums. His songwriting style is country, which contrasts the upbeat folk-rock of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats.

“But playing live, the best way to describe Simpson is he just plain rocks as he continues to push his work beyond expectations and musical boundaries,” said a Harvest press release.

His most recent album, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, won a 2017 Grammy Award for Best Country Album of the year. Opening up the night for Simpson is Southern Avenue, an energetic five-piece soul-blues gospel band from Memphis, Tennessee.

Other acts appearing at Harvest include Mavis Staples, Blackberry Smoke, Rich Aucoin, Five Alarm Funk, The Magpie Salute, The Sheepdogs and Rose Cousins.

The Harvest Jazz & Blues festival has been happening for 28 years in the downtown Fredericton area. (William Cumming/AQ)

Harvest begins on Tuesday and continues until Sunday.

The Capital Complex will also celebrate their 20th anniversary at the Barracks tent on Thursday, featuring a free show from Dub Antenna at 5 p.m. Later on, self-described as both avant-rock and art-rock, Fredericton-based trio, Motherhood, will open up the evening, followed by Elliott Brood and Grand Theft Bus.

Staeben said Harvest is proud of this year’s lineup.

“From headliners pulled straight off your bucket list, to some of the most powerful women in blues, soul and jazz today, to an impressive complement of hot acts and up-and-comers soon to be on the top of your playlists, there isn’t a music fan around who won’t want to be in Fredericton for Harvest this year.”