NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Maroon 5, Usher and Dave Matthews are among some of the big names playing at this year's New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
The lineup, announced Friday, includes more than 500 bands covering a diverse array of musical styles over more than a dozen stages set up at the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course.
"All but about 80 of the acts are local," festival organizer Quint Davis said, enthusiastically. "We've evolved to a point though where every stage, every day has at least one national act. It's taken awhile to get to that point, but we're there."
Davis said he was encouraged by the response to the lineup, so far, by fans of the festival.
"A lot of people are really looking at the schedule in depth," he said. "They're paying attention and going deep into it. We're hearing things like, 'Wow, Corinne Bailey Rae's coming' and after rain ruined Snoop Dogg's debut last year, people now have a second chance to see him for the first time."
Some of the other artists appearing include Alabama Shakes, Kings of Leon, Patti LaBelle, Widespread Panic and rappers Pitbull and Nas.
The festival also features artists from Louisiana and New Orleans, such as the Hot 8 Brass Band, Ellis Marsalis, Trombone Shorty, the Soul Rebels, Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys, Irma Thomas and The Meters.
A full list of participants can be viewed at www.nojazzfest.com .
Jazz Fest's Cultural Exchange Pavilion will focus on Cuba this year. Last year, Belize was in the spotlight. Davis said they're looking to enlarge the pavilion's tent this year allowing more fans to "experience the experience."
"It's going to be Cuban music all day," Davis said.
The festival, presented by Shell, takes place April 28-30 and May 4-7.
Tickets currently are on sale for $65 through Feb. 14. The price rises to $70 on Feb. 15 and the gate price will be $80. Children's tickets (ages 2-10) remain $5. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit owner of the festival, also gives out 8,000 free tickets to community groups annually.
Davis said he's hoping this year's event will not include the rain that deluged 2016's second weekend.
"I'm starting to question my requests to the weather gods," he said, laughing. "But people are really giving us a lot more slack these days. Last year's first weekend was the best ever, the second was the rainiest ever. Still, people came out in huge numbers, saying 'We're not, not coming!' Whether you experience Jazz Fest in the rain or not, you want to be there."
Associated Press Writer Rebecca Santana contributed to this report.