Montreux jazz festival draws Prince, Sting

By Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters

Posted at Apr 18 2013 08:00 PM | Updated as of Apr 19 2013 08:13 PM

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Prince, Leonard Cohen and Marcus Miller will headline the Montreux Jazz festival in July, expanded by the opening of a third concert hall "Lab," organizers said on Thursday.

Cohen will open the 47th edition of one of Europe's most prestigious summer music events, on July 4, and give a second concert the next night.

Prince was already booked for three back-to-back evenings (July 13 to 15) at the July 4-21 festival, the first since the death of founder and director Claude "Funky" Nobs in January after a skiing accident.

"Three nights, three shows, he's back. It is a huge honor," festival director Mathieu Jaton told a news conference in Lausanne. "We never know what Prince will do, or who he's coming with, but we're used to his incredible surprises."

Tickets for Prince -- ranging from 175 Swiss francs ($190) to a whopping 395 francs -- are already sold out, while all others go on sale on Friday morning.

Other highlights include Sting on July 16, the electronic group Kraftwerk on July 17, Diana Krall on July 18 and Joe Cocker on July 20.

For blues fans, Bonnie Raitt opens on July 11 for Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite. Brian May of Queen fame and Deep Purple appear on July 19 and are likely to jam, Jaton said.

Claudia Leitte headlines the traditional Brazilian night on July 12, along with Tulipa Ruiz and Gal Costa.

Miller, a top American bass player injured in a bus accident in Switzerland in November, returns to the Montreux stage on July 21, opening for an 80th birthday concert for Quincy Jones.

"Quincy is transforming his birthday part into an homage for Claude," Jaton said, noting that the legendary Los Angeles-based producer served as co-director of the festival in the 1990s.

"Wyclef Jean is returning, last time he carried Claude Nobs on his shoulders at a concert that went on to four o'clock in the morning. It's a wink to Claude to have him back," he added.

American comeback musician Sixto Rodriguez, enjoying a second career at age 70, will inaugurate the "Lab" on July 4, a new venue with a capacity of 2,000.

"Searching for Sugar Man," a film by Malik Bendjelloul which won the Oscar for Best Documentary this year, chronicles an amazing bid to find the mysterious Detroit-based Rodriguez who shot to fame in South Africa but remained unknown in America.

Rodriguez made only two albums in the early 1970s, "Cold Fact" and "Coming from Reality." His poetic lyrics about the drug scene and poverty are tinged with "anti-establishment blues" and led to a cult following in apartheid-era South Africa -- which he learned of only decades later.

The festival along Lake Geneva, whose two traditional venues are the larger Stravinski Auditorium and more intimate Miles Davis Hall, draws some 250,000 music fans each year.