It will be the first year the Eagles and Tom Petty play Jazz Fest, the outdoor music event that features hundreds of Louisiana artists in such genres as jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, Cajun and zydeco. The festival is accented by national acts that in 2012 will include the Zac Brown Band, Herbie Hancock, My Morning Jacket, Bonnie Raitt, Al Green, Jill Scott and Florence & The Machine.
In all, hundreds of acts will perform on roughly a dozen stages over two weekends from April 27 through May 6 at the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans. Roughly 85 percent of the lineup is from Louisiana, including New Orleans soul singer Irma Thomas, singer-pianist Allen Toussaint and jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain.
“This festival really offers the best of both worlds,” said Quint Davis, the festival’s producer. “The heart and soul of the festival is all the Louisiana artists, but added to that is the very best of all these other genres.”
Davis said it was a treat to land both the Eagles and Tom Petty the same year, especially considering the Eagles aren’t on tour.
“They’ve been on our most in demand list for years,” Davis said. “They are both legendary groups that you hope someday you can get. To have both in the same year and on top of that have the Foo Fighters, it’s amazing that they’ve all come together in one year.”
Next year’s Jazz Fest will include a 50th anniversary celebration of Preservation Hall, the French Quarter venue founded in 1961 to protect and honor New Orleans jazz. It’s also home to the world-renowned Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The celebration will include a concert the second weekend of the festival, Davis said. Performers for the event will be released next year, he said.
The Mardi Gras Indians will be given an entire pavilion to showcase their photos, costumes, and music, Davis said.
Davis said the HBO television series “Treme” brought national attention to the Mardi Gras Indians, so next year the festival plans to include a lecture series, costume demonstrations and a photo display showing the history of the Mardi Gras Indian culture in New Orleans.
“‘Treme’ was probably the first national look at the Mardi Gras Indians,” Davis said. “Millions of people saw that for the first time, and it generated interest. It made more people aware.”
The lineup will include performances by the Mardi Gras Indians as well as the city’s popular brass bands.
“We have music that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, and that’s an amazing thing to be able to say,” Davis said. “It’s a unique birthright that nobody else can claim.”
Tickets for the 2012 festival go on sale Wednesday. Visit NoJazzFest.com for more information.