ORLANDO, Fla. – Less than two weeks after SeaWorld announced country music legend Willie Nelson would be kicking off the marine park's annual food and music festival, a representative for Nelson confirms he will not be performing at SeaWorld Orlando.
Nelson's departure from the 2014 "Bands, Brew, and BBQ" schedule comes days after Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies cancelled their concert at the marine park, citing concerns raised by the documentary "Blackfish".
Nelson had been slated to perform at SeaWorld on February 1st. "Due to a scheduling conflict, Willie Nelson will not be appearing at Bands, Brew, and BBQ," said SeaWorld spokesman Nick Gollattscheck.
Nelson's publicist, Elaine Schock, acknowledged the singer is no longer scheduled to perform at SeaWorld but did not provide a reason why. Schock would not confirm there was a scheduling conflict, telling Local 6 she did not know the reason Nelson's concert date was changed.
On Nov. 27, Barenaked Ladies announced it was cancelling its appearance at the same music and food festival. The band said they made their decision after viewing "Blackfish", a documentary that criticizes SeaWorld and the captive whale industry.
"This is a complicated issue, and we don't claim to understand all of it, but we don't feel comfortable proceeding with the gig at this time," the band wrote on their website. "The Seaworld folks have been gracious , and extended us invitations to the park to learn more about what they do, and how they do it."
A fan of Barenaked Ladies started a petition on Change.org urging the band to see the documentary and "learn how SeaWorld and other captive display facilities such as Marineland in Niagara Falls have for decades exploited marine mammals solely for profit."
A similar online petition urging Nelson to "respect animals" and cancel his SeaWorld appearance had gained nearly 9,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.
Other acts scheduled to perform at the 2014 "Bands, Brew, and BBQ" fest include Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon, Scotty McCreery, and Martina McBride. All of their official websites indicate they are still planning to appear at the marine park.