Bluesfest is set to announce their lineup next week, and as always, there has been much speculation around the major headliners.  Bluesfest announces their lineup relatively late compared to other summer festivals, which drives a lot of rumours and discussion around the bands on the festival circuit or otherwise that may drop by our beloved Bluesfest.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of rumouring and speculating myself, so here are my predictions/hopes/wishes and impressions of the current rumours floating around:

Iron Maiden – this seems to be pretty much in the bag.  The band is touring this summer, they’ve got dates in Montreal and Toronto right around that time, and then there’s this bit of evidence.

Crowded House – another one that seems like a fait acompli.  With a new album coming out in June and a US/Canada tour kicking off on July 12th, they seem a pretty likely candidate.  Oh, and of course there’s this.

Weezer – I haven’t seen this name come up in many rumour discussions, but let’s file it under my wish/hopes.  The timing seems right – they’re on the festival circuit and are playing Sarnia Bayfest and Osheaga in Montreal around that time.  If they don’t play Bluesfest, I guess I’ll be hitting Osheaga – I’ve been dying to catch these guys live.

Black Eyed Peas – This name came up a couple of times – they’re currently on tour and are also hitting the Sarnia Bayfest on July 18th.  But they’ve got a date at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on August 1st, so they probably wouldn’t want to cannibalize sales from that show so soon after.  Unlikely.

Lady Gaga – This was the big rumour that hit last week.  I don’t really care either way, but she’s got two gigs down the road in Toronto on July 11 and 12th – but the schedule seems a bit too tight for her to make the trip here – she’s only got a day between New York and Toronto, and a day from Toronto to Cleveland.  I think this one’s pretty unlikely.

Neil Young – I came across this rumour for the first time last week as well.  I really hope it’s true, but it’s hard to find any evidence to support.

Kings of Leon – Another persistent rumour, but I think this is more wishful thinking.  They’re on tour, but at the time of Bluesfest they’re cruising around the western states, so I think this is pretty unlikely.

U2 – HA!  I doubt it.  Yes, they’re in Montreal at the right time, but really?  Not exactly a festival-circuit type band…

Rush – hmmm… another strong possibility – they’re on tour, playing outdoor venues and festivals.  Also playing Sarnia Bayfest and there’s a rather glaring 4 day gap between that show and Toronto where they could take a jaunt down here.

Arcade Fire – hard to say… they’re doing a European Festivals tour and are playing Oxygen Festival on July 9th, but they have nothing else booked until Osheaga at the end of July.  Would love to see these guys!

Stevie Wonder – has been a pretty persistent rumour, and would be an amazing get for the festival.  He is playing some festivals this summer, but I can’t find any single listing of his currently booked dates.

Those are the big rumours, and of course the best thing about Bluesfest is that over the 10 days, there are so many acts to catch that the headliners are really just icing on the cake. Word is this year’s festival received a record number of requests from local bands to play, so Ottawa should be well represented as well.

The other great bit of news is that the Byward Blues concert series is going to be expanded and will include free outdoor shows over both weekends, as well as lots of club shows through the week.  Two of my favourite experiences from last year – Arrested Development on York Street and Peter Murphy at Mavericks – were a part of the Byward Blues series, so I’m really glad to see it back.

UPDATE: Just spotted another rumour that seems pretty likely:  Santana.  He’s on tour playing basically every day or two and then there’s a rather conspicuous gap between Toronto on July 11 and Montreal on July 15th.  hmmm..