It's not even Christmas but the music search committee at Friends of the Festival has signed its first three acts for the 2014 Riverbend Festival, set for June 7-14 at Ross's Landing.
Performing on the main Coca-Cola Stage on opening night will be country star Gary Allan. Headlining the Bud Light Stage on June 11 will be singer/songwriter Allen Stone, and on the same stage the following evening will be Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett of Little Feat, featuring the New Orleans Suspects.
"Gary Allan has a cult following among country fans and sells out everywhere he goes," said talent and production coordinator Joe "Dixie" Fuller.
Allan made his debut in 1996 with his single "Her Man" from his debut CD "Used Heart for Sale." He has released eight albums since then, and produced 26 singles that appeared on Billboard's Hot Country Songs.
Stone was the special guest during the 25th anniversary of the Nightfall concert series in July. The socially conscious R&B singer with the soulful vocals also performed on opening night at Bonnaroo in June, and has appeared on "Conan," "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "Last Call with Carson Daly."
"He is so soulful it's incredible," Fuller said. "He's appeared on Daryl Hall's ["Live From Daryl's House"] show twice and Ellen Degeneres gave him 20 minutes on her show."
Barrere and Tackett provided the guitar sound for Little Feat and first played together on the band's "Dixie Chicken" album. Lately they've been touring as an acoustic duo.
The New Orleans Suspects, an all-star band of veteran Crescent City players, performed here in August as part of the Riverfront Nights concert series. They are Reggie Scanlan from The Radiators, Willie Green from The Neville Brothers, Jake Eckert from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, sax player Jeff Watkins from James Brown's band and funk piano master CR Gruver.
Fuller said last year was a challenging one when it came to booking acts because so many that the committee went after decided not to tour the week of Riverbend. He said this year already is shaping up much better in that regard.
"Oh yeah. I've got a real good feeling about it. There are a lot more things that are available to us, and we are revisiting some of them as we speak."
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.