Jazz fest line-up set

Published 8:40 pm Friday, January 26, 2007

Rod Stewart and Norah Jones will join New Orleans favorites like Irma Thomas, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint as headliners for this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The festival, spanning two weekends in April and May, will feature hundreds of the city’s most beloved musicians and a host of national headliners at the New Orleans Fair Grounds, a horse racing track that flooded and was seriously damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Headliners for the festival’s first weekend, April 27-29, include Stewart, Van Morrison, Jones, Brad Paisley, Ludacris and Bonnie Raitt. Steely Dan, ZZ Top, John Legend, Counting Crows and New Edition will perform the second weekend, May 4-6.

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Tickets go on sale Thursday.

“We have a lot of people who have never played the festival before and a lot of women headliners,” said Quint Davis, the festival’s producer.

Still, like last year, more than 80 percent of the performers are from Louisiana. “If you look at the lineup you see that the New Orleans music scene, which is really what this festival is all about, is as strong as ever,” he said.

Among New Orleans’ own scheduled to perform: Kermit Ruffins, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Irvin Mayfield, Henry Butler, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Ellis Marsalis, Rolan Guerin and Donald Harrison.

Louisiana native Jerry Lee Lewis and Philip Frazier, leader and tuba player of the New Orleans-based Rebirth Brass Band, are on this year’s two official festival posters. Lewis and Rebirth are set to perform separately the first weekend.

Jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain, who performed at the first Jazz Fest in 1969, said he is excited to perform again: “It means I’m still alive,” he said, laughing.

“It’s one of the highlights of my life, because, you know I played the first one, so it’s something special and something I look forward to every year,” Fountain said.

This festival will be the second since Hurricane Katrina hit the city on Aug. 29, 2005.

It will be closed by singer-pianist Harry Connick Jr., a New Orleans native, on Sunday, May 6. He is expected to perform selections from his “Oh, My Nola” album, due out Tuesday, which covers New Orleans standards linked with the likes of Toussaint, Dr. John and Louis Armstrong and includes original material.

That means the Neville Brothers, who closed the festival for more than a decade before Katrina, will not be the closing act for the second straight year.

Aaron Neville again cited concerns about aggravating his asthma, Davis said. Also, at the time festival organizers needed to know the brothers’ availability, Neville was dealing with the illness of his wife, Joel Roux-Neville, who died Jan. 5 of lung cancer.

The festival will include at least two Nevilles: singer Charmaine Neville will perform with her band the first weekend, while Aaron’s son, Ivan Neville, is set to perform the second weekend.