One of the longest-running multi-day music festivals in the U.S., the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (also known as Jazz Fest) announced the 2016 music lineup, headlined by multi-instrumentalist Stevie Wonder, rock bands Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers, plus singer-songwriter Neil Young with his backing band Promise of the Real. The daily schedule of performers can be found on the official festival website.
Similar to previous years, Jazz Fest has one of the most massive lists of headliners, including rapper Snoop Dogg, folk singer-songwriter Paul Simon, rhythm and blues talent Van Morrison, jazz rock band Steely Dan, alternative artist Beck, and local prodigy Trombone Shorty. Also scheduled to perform are new wave act Elvis Costello & the Imposters, pop rock singer Nick Jonas, blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr., rapper J. Cole, psychedelic soul artist Janelle Monáe, blues singer and slide guitar player Bonnie Rait, in addition to Spanish singer Julio Iglesias.
A few noteworthy, female acts worth mentioning this year are R&B singer Lauryn Hill, alternative country and folk rock singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, funk/soul band Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, and country soul singer Elle King. Local acts returning to play Jazz Fest once again this year span the “Soul Queen of New Orleans” Irma Thomas, singer-songwriter Dr. John & the Nite Trippers, R&B musician Aaron Neville, blues guitarist Buddy Guy, and blues group the Taj Mahal Trio. Check out the lineup announcement video below, as well as the complete lineup poster.
The 10-day cultural feast taking place over two weekends between April 22 and May 1 attracts a total of more than 400,000 attendees. There are 12 music stages and tents of various sizes set up at the festival, in addition to two food stages. Beyond the mainstream artists, there are countless local performers and bands from Louisiana that help promote and preserve local culture at the festival.
The essence of Jazz Fest is to celebrates indigenous music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana, encompassing all styles associated with the city and the state. From blues, R&B, and gospel music to Cajun music, zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, folk music, and beyond. Of course, there’s also lots of jazz, both contemporary and traditional. In addition to the music, the festival serves a wide variety of vendors selling local foods and crafts, with an official food policy of “no carnival food.” Over 70 food booths offer tasty, exotic treats such as soft-shell crab po’boy, jambalaya, fried green tomatoes, and crawfish Monica.
Last year, artist headliners included Elton John, The Who, Lady Gaga, and Tony Bennett. The overall attendance for 2015 saw 460,000 attendees, which was its highest since Hurricane Katrina, but still well below the single-year record of 650,000 people.