Lenny Kravitz, Jimmy Buffett, Melissa Etheridge, Teena Marie, Bonnie Raitt, Teddy Pendergrass, Counting Crows, Bobby Womack, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Taj Mahal and Marcia Ball are among the top attractions scheduled to appear at the 33rd annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival between April 26 and May 5.
The list of rock, R&B and world music luminaries makes it obvious that, despite its name, the festival is about far more than jazz. It is in fact the world's greatest roots music festival, and the only ongoing gathering that still retains the spirit of the late 1960s festival boom that it was originally a part of.
The presence of two Grateful Dead-related bands, Phil Lesh & Friends and Bobby Weir's Ratdog, as well as such accomplished jam bands as Gov't Mule, Galactic and String Cheese Incident ensures that the new generation of hippy concert goers will be attending the festival in force.
Of course the festival's raison d'être is to celebrate the rich musical culture of Louisiana, and this year's lineup includes a rare appearance by the legendary Huey "Piano" Smith along with local heroes such as The Neville Brothers, Wayne Toups & Zydecajun, Wynton Marsalis, Zigaboo Modeliste, Trombone Shorty, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Banu Gibson with Fayard Nichols, Bo Dollis & The Wild Magnolias, Monk Boudreaux & The Golden Eagles, Zion Harmonizers, and Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers.
"New Orleans is the soul of America," said festival Producer/Director Quint Davis, "and the Jazz Fest is the soul of New Orleans. There is no better way to renew your soul than through the power of the music, the food and the art, and especially the loving vibes of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Now more than ever, Jazz Fest is shining as brightly as the fire in Wynton Marsalis' horn. Y'all come!"
The Louisiana Heritage Fair, which is scheduled for Friday through Sunday, April 26, 27, 28, and Thursday through Sunday, May 2, 3, 4, 5, will again be held at the Fair Grounds Race Course. Jazz Fest organizers said that in the coming weeks they will announce other new initiatives regarding admissions regulations, parking, and security for the event.
This year, the festival will pay special tribute to America's indigenous culture with a Native American celebration that features an expansion of the festival's Native American Village, exhibits in the Grandstand at the Fair Grounds, a film series presented at the New Orleans Museum of Art on Tuesday, April 30, and performances by an important roster of Native American musicians.
The festival will feature performances by Casper Lomayesva "Reggae inna Hopiland"; Dineh Tah Navajo Dancers of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Iron Mountain Native Dancers; Nation of Change of Oklahoma; Robert Mirabal: Music From a Painted Cave; The Bucks of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Bayou Healers of Houma, La.; Medicine Tail of Lake Charles, La. and the Otter Trail Singers of Dallas, Texas, among others.
The festival plans to open a new performance tent dedicated to the Blues. The Blues Tent will be the largest performance tent at Jazz Fest, with a capacity of over 3,000 and a lineup including Delbert McClinton, Elvin Bishop, Deacon John, Shemekia Copeland, Snooks Eaglin, Roy Rogers, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Lonnie Brooks, John Mooney, Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials, Earl King, Sonny Landreth, Marva Wright, Kenny Neal & Diane Coleman, Spencer Bohren, Luther Kent, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, and many more artists.
In addition to the music, presented simultaneously on 12 stages, the Heritage Fair will also offer an incomparable array of food and contemporary and folk crafts. Also, the Fair features numerous areas that highlight Louisiana's diverse influences, including the Congo Square African Marketplace , Louisiana Folklife Village and Heritage Square -- site of the Jazz, Gospel and Blues Tents, the Contemporary Crafts area, and food booths.
Festival parades, starring brass bands and marching clubs, begin and end in Heritage Square. The multi-tiered, air-conditioned Grandstand will feature the heritage stages, arts and crafts exhibits, video presentations, cooking demonstrations, music performances, and intimate interviews.
Daily tickets to the Louisiana Heritage Fair are $18 in advance ($1.50 for children under age 12) of each weekend. Tickets at the gate are $25 ($2 for children) each day. To charge tickets by phone, call Ticketmaster at (800) 488-5252. Jazz Festival tickets can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival's website is nojazzfest.com, which presents up-to-the-minute Festival information and much more. Festival Patrons can shop online at jazzandheritage.com to find the latest in Jazz Fest wear and gear, Festival keepsakes, and other specialty items.