The artists we would like to see
We’re a little more than halfway Tortuga Music Festival 2023, which returns April 14-16, marking the 10th anniversary of its 2013 debut at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park.
Get out of a Festival 2022 which sold out in record time, the beach party is one of South Florida’s defining cultural touchstones and a must-see destination on the national country music map. It is an event that is not broken, so no need to fix it.
But a 10th anniversary sounds big, an opportunity to dream big, especially when it comes to programming.
In its first decade, Tortuga was home to some of country music’s most popular stars, including Kenny Chesney (Tortuga’s Godfather), Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Zac Brown, Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen and Chris Stapleton. But there are plenty of serious country artists who have never played Tortuga.
Here’s a wishlist for Tortuga Music Festival 2023 and future line-ups, from first-time and second-time headliners, to classic rockers, celebrity musicians and artists with southern ties. Florida. Everything is in a good mood.
No doubt you have better ideas. If money weren’t an issue, who would be on your Tortuga wishlist? Let me have it at [email protected]
For 2023, Kenny Chesney must be a data. He provided legitimacy for the upstart festival as the headliner of Tortuga’s first year in 2013 and appeared every other year until COVID. It’s been three years since Chesney played Tortuga, and he just wrapped up his pandemic-interrupted Here and Now tour. Perfect timing.
For the other two headliners, how big do we want to dream, and what country does Tortuga want to be?
Ten years ago this week, when organizers reserved talent for the First Tortuga Music Festivala new country-pop album titled “Red” has been released by a 22-year-old Taylor Swift. It was the sound of the Taylor-Tortuga ship sailing away from Fort Lauderdale, probably forever.
Miranda Lambert proved at the 2022 festival that a female headliner (she was the first) adds another kind of fun to the bro-country overload in Tortuga – so put me for Dolly Parton. The 76-year-old icon is having a long pop culture moment right now, and who’s the most entertaining and engaging? But does she feel too country for Tortuga?
Having a moment is also Carrie Underwoodwhose tour in support of the “Denim & Rhinestones” album wraps up in March, freeing her up for a Tortuga set.
Speaking of country icons, is it a stretch to think that willie nelson could be encouraged to make his Tortuga debut? Most likely. Again, too country? Most likely. What about Garth Brooks? I could see it.
And given Tortuga’s location and seaside vibe, how come jimmy buffet, who has a house just up I-95, never played the Fort Lauderdale festival? Someone has to fix this.
Tortuga hasn’t been shy about bringing back artists who have been particularly popular with previous audiences. If we’re looking for old favorites as headliners, I’d vote for Eric Church, Luke Combs Where Chris Stapleton – who is hotter than him right now? Unless you’re the headliner of 2022 Morgan Wallen.
Kane Brown played Tortuga twice, but has yet to headline, and of all the shows I’ve attended on the sands of Fort Lauderdale, no one has created a bigger response than Florida Georgia line. In case you were wondering, Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley will perform at Country Thunder Arizona the same weekend as Tortuga.
Tortuga has done an admirable job of increasing the number of female performers in recent years, with Lainey Wilson and several other promising talents support Lambert at Tortuga 2022. Maren Morris was on her first solo tour when she made her Tortuga debut in 2017, and it would be great to see her again.
One of the best songwriters in country music right now, Kacey Musgraves, has never played at the beach in Fort Lauderdale, and if you said she’s a potential headliner, you’d get no argument here. Others who should be considered for future Tortuga lineup include the two singers collaborating on the new documentary “The Return of Tanya Tucker – With Brandi Carlile” (scheduled for an October 21 release), as well as Mickey Guyton, and Kaitlin’s Buttswhose album “What Else Can She Do” is one of my favorite releases of 2022.
One of Tortuga’s most thoughtful bookings was that of 2017 from the great alan jackson, which, if nothing else, bolstered the festival’s reputation as a forum for country music (easy to forget on the beach). Next time I’d like to see Tortuga fill that classic country box with another legend, George Straitwho performed last weekend at the Legends of Music Row festival in Key West.
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I’ll wear a cap (never back) and understand the crowd-pleasing nature of a bro-country anthem. But I prefer music with real guts that isn’t thrown by a $50,000 truck. I would like to hear a Tortuga put by Tyler Childer (his new three-part album, “Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven?” is brave and intermittently brilliant), or by the uncompromising Jason Isbelmy favorite songwriter is going these days.
The calculator-style trio Midland and Tortuga see themselves as made for each other, right? Hank Williams III, too. Also worthy of sprinkling among young males: Steve Earle, Joe Ely, Dwight Yoakam and Ray Wylie Hubbard. We dream, don’t we?
Tortuga usually reserved a spot for a hip-hop star like Flo Rida and Pitbull or a party girl like Nelly and Vanilla Ice. Texas-based duo black pumas are among the brightest lights camped at the crossroads of rock and soul these days. Ice Cube is on tour this fall, and its West Coast sidekick Snoop Dogg is always a party waiting to happen. And how about Earth, Air and Fire? Or Bell Biv Devoe — who can resist “Poison”?
Tortuga has a history with classic rock (The Doobie Brothers), southern rock (Lynyrd Skynyrd) and indie rock (The Avett Brothers). It is to highlight that WilcoThe 2022 double album, titled “Cruel Country”, was described by bandleader Jeff Tweedy as the band’s first country music album. Also interesting: John Mellencamp, who is on tour in 2023 in support of his album “Strictly a One-Eyed Jack”. The tour stops at the Broward Center on February 21 and 22, making it unlikely that he will return for Tortuga 2023. The black crows would be welcome, blackberry smoke, too. And High ZZ is on the road until 2023.
The Tortuga 2021 lineup stood out with a performance by the actor-musician Rita Wilson, (wife of actor Tom Hanks), who shared the music from his EP “Trilogy III”. It was an interesting idea. If Tortuga 2023 is looking to continue the celebrity-musician theme, how about the ‘Yellowstone’ star Kevin Costnerwho continues to record with his band, modern westWhere Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters? If we want to get really mad, let’s consider Hollywood Vampireswith the former Miramar musician Johnny Depp, part-time resident of Fort Lauderdale Alice Cooper and Aerosmith Joe Perry. Dream.
Most music festivals in South Florida strive to incorporate local artists and, perhaps understandably, it’s a bit more difficult for a country event. The Mavericks, the pride of Miami, performed in Tortuga in 2015 and is riding a new wave of popularity on a cross-country tour that runs through February. From West Palm Beach Pope Cassadee, a performer from Tortuga 2019, is also expected to be welcomed back. Tortuga should also think of Miami Sarah McCulloch, who released a superb country album in 2022, “Sawmiller’s Daughter”.