RodeoHouston is finally back.
After a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, officials unveiled the 90th anniversary line-up at a media event at Pat Green's downtown honky-tonk venue, The Rustic, and it will not disappoint rodeo purists and casual music fans alike. Similar to the last couple of years, it represents a diverse set of performers set on a bedrock of country acts that comprise 14 nights of the 21-night event.
Just as CultureMap predicted, many of the performers that missed out on playing the 2020 edition shuttered abruptly due to the coronavirus will get a second chance to play the star-shaped stage this year. Call the 2022 edition the 2020 redux.
"The goal was to bring back as many of the stars [that were set to play] as possible, given the schedules, because this year got really tight particularly with the venues available and with many acts getting back on the road," said Jason Kane, managing director of entertainment for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. "In that sense, I feel like we really succeeded in doing that. Like previous years, we wanted to keep a mix of genres that really tap into the overall make up of Houston."
Country acts set to return from the 2020 calendar include rising East Texas country act Cody Johnson opening proceedings on February 28 with his fourth official appearance; Aussie wunderkind Keith Urban for the eighth time on March 1; superstar Tim McGraw on March 2, up-and-coming solo act Jon Pardi in his rodeo debut on March 5; The Voice judge Luke Bryan on March 7, back for the ninth time; Maren Morris on March 8 for her first official RodeoHouston appearance; Dierks Bentley for the seventh time on March 13; Chris Stapleton on March 17 for the fourth go; and Brad Paisley on March 19.
Outside of the country genre, returning performers include pop queen Gwen Stefani also making her debut on March 15 (look for a Blake Shelton cameo); R&B sensation Khalid on March 16 for the first time in the dirt and dust; and the living EDM emoji Marshmello on March 18. Major disappointment came with the realization that Houston-native Lizzo would not return, but not for lack of trying. Kane said they worked extremely hard to book her but schedules could not line up, but promised that as a hometown hero, "Lizzo can perform at RodeoHouston anytime she wants."
Fresh acts announced included the very first contemporary Christian act, for King & Country on March 3; Latin powerhouse Ricky Martin on March 4, fresh off a co-headlining Toyota Center gig with Enrique Iglesias; Norteño band Los Tucanes de Tijuana on March 6; classic rock band Journey on March 10; and singer-songwriter Sam Hunt on March 14.
Most excitingly, Houston hip-hop gets it’s very first showcase with Bun B's H-Town Takeover headlining Black Heritage Night on March. The chopped and screwed champ let the announcement crowd know that he’ll be joined by Slim Thug, Lil' Keke, and other special, surprise guests that will surely get rumors going over the next few months.
They will join previously announced performers, including Parker McCollum on March 12 and highlighted by country icon George Strait and special guest Ashley McBryde closing out the season on Sunday, March 20. He will look to beat his record setting NRG stadium audience numbers.
It was impossible to ignore the omicron elephant in the room, with COVID transmission numbers at near-historic levels in the Lone Star State. RodeoHouston officials pointed to major sports events across the U.S. that people are willing to attend major entertainment gatherings.
"We want everyone to follow CDC guidelines, we encourage folks to get vaccinated, and to wear a mask if that's what makes them most comfortable," Kane said.
If the pandemic decides to take a backseat to the largest annual event in the Bayou City, it will serve as a reset from the last two, ill-fated seasons, a return to relative normalcy. Whatever the case, all who attended the announcement ceremony on Wednesday night could agree that it was good to have RodeoHouston back.