This year's Saturday in the Park will feature three headliners. What makes them different? We talked with them before this year's festival and have a few ideas.
Meet the 2017 Saturday in the Park headliners:
Joss Stone doesn't play by the rules
Joss Stone never struggled to feel like a regular person, but she did have trouble being told what to do early into her career.
The English soul singer felt comfortable going about her “normal” life after performing shows. Onstage, she sees herself as someone with a job to do. Afterward, she’s off the clock and ready for a pint at the pub. “They’re just songs, you know,” Stone said during a phone interview.
But when making her mainstream debut in 2003 with the release of her album “The Soul Sessions,” decisions were made for her by higher-ups. The free spirit was subdued and dragged around. She was overwhelmed, but nowadays that’s all changed.
“Today, I get to choose,” said Stone. “When you decide for yourself, you can go at your own pace.”
But instead of slowing down, Stone keeps herself busy. Only this time she’s in control. “Which is a much more calm way to live -- even if I chose to go crazy,” she said with a laugh.
Her stern independence has been embedded in her soul since childhood. Growing up on the English countryside, Stone had the same upbringing as her sister who now works as a barrister. But their two personalities and ideals couldn’t be any more different.
“My sister loves the rules and she loves to be told what to do,” Stone said. “And now she’s in a job that enforces the rules. It couldn’t be more opposite with me. I’ve never been like that. If somebody were to try to tell me what to do, it would kill me. I hated it!”
When it came to her music, people would question why a singer from England was singing the blues and adding soul, hip-hop or other cultural influences to her music.
Growing up, she was exposed to diverse genres of music by her siblings. Her sister listened to pop while her brothers listened to hip-hop and rock. Stone was particularly interested in soul.
“I go to America and everyone starts saying to me, ‘Why are you singing this music? Why aren’t you singing that music?’” Stone recalled. “I don’t know. I don’t know why. I just do. I never really figured it would be a question why. I just thought it was music.”
Stone decided that she wouldn’t be “put into a box,” flouting everyone’s expectations in the process.
“I would just go wherever the wind takes me because it’s worked for me so far,” she said. “I honestly feel like music is music. There are no lines, no barriers. No rules.
“It’s much more fun being free.”
The Revivalists credit strong work ethic for success
While it would have been nice for The Revivalists to have found success early on, bassist George Gekas prefers the journey he and his band have taken.
“It feels like we’ve spent a lot of time and made a lot of sacrifices,” Gekas said in a phone interview. “It definitely feels like we’ve earned it. To tell you the truth, I don’t think we would have wanted it any other way.”
Gekas joined the seven-piece New Orleans rock band in 2008; by then the band was only a few months old. Now consisting of Gekas, David Shaw, Zack Feinberg, Ed Williams, Rob Ingraham, Andrew Campanelli and Michael Girardot, the band members met their biggest mainstream success after the release of the song “Wish I Knew You” in 2016.
For Gekas, it was another stepping stone.
“Stuff happening overnight, in my experience, doesn’t really happen,” he said. “It was accomplishing smaller goals to reach a larger goal. It’s a gradual pace that you keep up.”
The band consistently worked hard to get to the point where it is now. Luck may have been a bit of a factor, he added, but The Revivalists' commitment to consistently tour and record was unwavering.
“I remember when we started there were a ton of other bands where we were in New Orleans,” said Gekas. “I think what separated us is we were willing to work hard and were willing to get on the road."
During the band’s early years, Gekas recalled that he and the others were all on the same page in terms of goals. They wanted to tour, earning as many fans as they could.
Gekas said if he could go back in time, he would tell himself to “keep up with what you’re doing.” Because eventually it paid off.
“To have the ability to watch everything to this point kind of makes it sweeter,” he said. Exploding overnight "doesn't really happen to most bands. Most bands have been touring around the country and just haven’t been on your radar yet.”
With the increased dependence on social media, Gekas said bands no longer have to go into “expensive studios to put out a record.”
Most kids, he added, are recording albums or songs in their dorm rooms, which has allowed for more experimentation in terms of sound.
That is something the band has grown accustomed to with its seven members all adding in their own influences and styles. No matter how many times the band’s sound changes or evolves, Gekas said the work ethic is likely to remain the same.
“We’re always willing to work hard.”
Trombone Shorty's love for music is boundless
Trombone Shorty isn’t tied down to his namesake instrument.
Troy Andrews first learned how to play the trombone when he was 4 years old – hence his stage name. He picked up other instruments like the tuba and the trumpet just so his neighborhood brass band would be complete.
His experience playing other instruments taught him one thing:
“I realized the trombone was one of the hardest instruments to play,” Andrews said during a phone interview.
So why did he stick with it all these years? He enjoyed the challenge it provided. Even after performing with his band Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue for nearly eight years, he doesn’t believe he has mastered it just yet.
In fact, he thinks he never will.
“There is so much knowledge and things I still have to learn,” he said. “I’m always trying to get better and use my imagination also to create new sounds and discover some things on my own. On the journey of trying to master it, which may be an [infinite] process, I hope that I can continue to get better at it.”
The Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans helped mold Andrews into the musician he is today. He credits the musical prowess of the neighborhood's inhabits as some of his biggest inspirations.
He credits his older brother, trumpeter James Andrews, with teaching him how to be professional. Even today he subconsciously channels his brother’s mannerisms as a musician.
“I just watched him,” he said. “Some of the moments I still feel today I can base off of that. It never really left me. I don’t know if I actually think about it or it’s just something that’s there every day. I’ve been doing it so long it’s just a natural reaction.”
Andrews’ skill with the trombone has led him to collaborate with various artists like the Zac Brown Band, Dierks Bentley and Foo Fighters. He said he views each one as a “different neighborhood.”
“We’re just making music,” he said. “There are no boundaries for me. I come from New Orleans and we don’t really have boundaries in music. It’s just a wonderful experience – it’s a complete pleasure to join whoever it is onstage and collaborate with them.”
And Andrews doesn’t play favorites when music is concerned. He’s just as happy playing at someone’s backyard birthday party as he is playing one of the biggest stages in New Orleans.
“It’s all about playing music in any capacity. That’s what I’m most proud about. I get to do what I love.”