Jazz Fest lineup a mix of old and new

NEW ORLEANS - Classic-rock act Fleetwood Mac, singer-pianist Billy Joel, major contemporary pop group Maroon 5 and Frank Ocean, a New Orleans native whose major-label debut, “Channel ORANGE,” has six Grammy nominations, are among the hundreds of acts announced for this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The festival takes place April 26 through April 28 and May 2 through May 5 at the Fair Grounds Race Course.

Other national acts announced include John Mayer, the singer-guitarist who canceled his appearance at last year’s festival because of a throat ailment; the Black Keys, featuring singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach, producer of Dr. John’s Grammy-nominated 2012 album, “Locked Down”; veteran pop duo Daryl Hall and John Oates; jam-band favorite Widespread Panic; 66-year-old punk-rock poet Patti Smith; returning classic country act Willie Nelson; and, another act that has made multiple Jazz Fest appearances, the Dave Matthews Band.

The 44th annual Jazz Fest also features its signature array of Louisiana talent. New Orleans staples Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas and 82-year-old traditional jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain are on the bill, as well as such young talent as Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, singer-fiddler Amanda Shaw, Cajun bands the Pine Leaf Boys and Red Stick Ramblers and, the 24-year-old singer-guitarist from Baton Rouge who won Guitar Center’s 2011 King of the Blues competition, Jonathon “Boogie” Long.

Marquee name Fleetwood Mac, featuring four of five members from the group’s most famous lineup — Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie — topped Thursday’s Jazz Fest’s announcement list of acts.

“We’re not only getting them together to play, we’re getting them to play at an outdoor festival,” Quint Davis, Jazz Fest’s longtime producer-director, said Thursday. “There was a lot of convincing to get them here, but we have an advantage because people know our festival and like it.”

Those people include Fleetwood Mac’s managers, Howard Kaufman and Irving Azoff. Kaufman manages Jimmy Buffett, a Jazz Fest performer and fan. Azoff manages the Eagles, one of last year’s headliners.

“Both of them have first-hand experience doing the festival,” Davis said. “So when they went to Fleetwood Mac, they said, ‘Look, I know you don’t normally do this, but we really want you to play Jazz Fest. It’s gonna be great.’

“When the acts come here,” Davis added, “we know they’re going to have a great experience, but if they haven’t been here before, maybe they don’t know.”

After years of trying to book the Black Keys, Davis said, the group is playing this year. Auerbach wanted to join Dr. John on stage at the festival last year but his touring schedule didn’t allow it.

“The Black Keys, that’s a perfect Jazz Fest band, rootsy, bluesy, a real musical act,” Davis said.

All four of the Neville Brothers, the New Orleans band of brothers who traditionally closed Jazz Fest’s final Sunday, will return this year, but in new configurations.

A Neville group without Aaron Neville — the Nevilles, featuring Art, Charles and Cyril Neville and more Neville family members — will perform Sunday, April 28.

Aaron Neville, who’s releasing his new solo album next week, will play a solo set Sunday, May 5.

“This is his moment to be Aaron Neville, where he started,” Davis said. “He’s kind of slipped off from the brothers, but now there’s a group called the Nevilles, with actually has even more Nevilles in it. The Nevilles are doing their hard-core R&B thing, and Aaron is doing his crooning, doo-wop thing. So they’re all going forward and, of course, we jumped at the chance to put all of them on.”

Other fresh combinations of veteran Jazz Fest performers include the Meter Men, featuring original Meters George Porter Jr., Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste and Leo Nocentelli with Phish singer-keyboardist Page McConnell.

Although Ocean isn’t currently performing or touring, his memories of attending Jazz Fest while he was growing up in New Orleans inspired him to join this year’s lineup.

Davis, whose association with Jazz Fest dates to its 1970 start, is particularly proud of such nuts-and-bolts but essential accomplishments as getting some 5,000 New Orleans musicians to perform on time year after year.

“There’s no such thing as that in the real world,” he said. “We have 65 concerts a day that start and stop on time. So that’s a whole team doing ground transportation and staging and sound and catering and dressing rooms.”

Advanced single-day tickets for Jazz Fest are $45 through Jan. 29, and $50 thereafter. The gate price ticket is $65. Children’s tickets (ages 2-10) are $5 and are available at the gate only.

Single-day tickets to Jazz Fest are on sale for specific weekends, with each ticket valid for a single day’s attendance. Tickets are available at http://www.nojazzfest.com and http://www.ticketmaster.com, at all Ticketmaster outlets or by calling (800) 745-3000.