NEW ORLEANS - NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Van the Man and The Queen of Soul are headlining next year's New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Joining Van Morrison and Aretha Franklin will be Pearl Jam, making its inaugural appearance at the fest, as well as Lionel Richie and actor Steve Martin, who plays banjo in his bluegrass outfit the Steep Canyon Rangers. Darius Rucker, former Hootie and the Blowfish front man-turned-country award-winning singer, is also slated to appear.
"It's just a way cool thing that Jazz Fest is so broad that it can embrace all these different things, all these different artists," the festival's producer, Quint Davis, said Monday.
Marking its 41st year, the festival is scheduled for the weekends of April 23-25 and April 29-May 2 and features hundreds of acts in genres ranging from pop, rock and gospel to R&B, jazz and zydeco.
Though dotted with major national acts, the festival is made up of more than 80 percent Louisiana artists such as The Neville Brothers, Irma Thomas, Pete Fountain, Dr. John, rapper Juvenile, Trombone Shorty and Buckwheat Zydeco.
Other first-time artists include My Morning Jacket, Anita Baker, Gipsy Kings, The Dead Weather, The Levon Helm Band, Drake and Johnny Lang.
"We have jazz in the name, but it's not just jazz music," Davis said.
Next year's festival will include a tribute to one of the genre's founders, jazz singer, songwriter and trumpeter Louis Prima, who was born in 1910 and "brought jazz and New Orleans flavor to the world," Davis said.
"He's so New Orleans," Davis said. "He was one of the first major voices in getting jazz and New Orleans to be dominant world powers in music. We have some very special things in the works to honor him."
There will be tributes to Prima every day with jazz singers Keely Smith and Louis Prima Jr. performing in his honor.
Davis said the festival was grateful to land Franklin — who was supposed to perform last year but dropped out when asked to participate in an event for President Barack Obama.
Rucker this year became only the second black performer to win a major individual country music award — he was named best new artist for 2009 — joining Charley Pride, who took entertainer of the year in 1971 and male vocalist in 1971-72.
"If there's nothing here that you like, then you just don't like nothing," Davis said.
Tickets for the festival, which is held at the Fair Grounds Race Course, go on sale Tuesday.
Besides music, the festival offers a host of food and craft booths, some that include the history and making of New Orleans pottery, jewelry, clothes and Mardi Gras.
Shell Oil Co. is this year's presenting sponsor. Other sponsors include Acura, Miller Lite, Pepsi and Sheraton New Orleans Hotel.
On the Net:
Jazz Fest, http://www.nojazzfest.com