Headlining the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival this year are a slew of big-name acts, including classic rock favorites The Who, Elton John, Steve Winwood and Chicago.
Younger acts include British singer Ed Sheeran, whose 2014 album “X” has a Grammy nomination for best pop vocal album, and Grammy-winning country singer Kacey Musgraves. No Doubt, the pop-rock-ska band featuring frontwoman and “The Voice” coach and judge Gwen Stefani, headlines Jazz Fest on May 1.
The lineup also features the duo of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, longtime Jazz Fest performer and fan Jimmy Buffett, contemporary rhythm-and-blues star John Legend and rap star Pitbull. The Meters, New Orleans’ great funk band, will stage a rare reunion performance.
Jazz Fest runs April 24-26 and April 30 to May 3 at the Fair Grounds Race Course. Tickets go on sale through Ticketmaster at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
The 2015 lineup also features rock ’n’ roll pioneer and Louisiana native Jerry Lee Lewis, who released his memoir, “His Own Story,” and latest album, “Rock & Roll Time,” in October. Lewis, 79, performs May 2.
Elton John, festival producer-director Quint Davis said Monday, has been on Jazz Fest’s wish list “forever.” Headlining May 2, Elton John played a sold-out show at the Smoothie King Arena last March. At 67, he remains one of pop music’s most enduring, active artists.
“There are few giants like him, in any genre or period,” Davis said. “We’ve always wanted to have him. It’s that moment in his career when he wants to come out and do this.”
The Who’s Jazz Fest debut, taking place April 25, is a stop on the group’s “The Who Hits 50!” tour. It’s also the iconic British invasion group’s first U.S. festival appearance in more than 40 years. The band famously played the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in 1969.
In 2013, singer Roger Daltrey told Rolling Stone magazine that the worldwide tour will be his and guitarist Pete Townshend’s last major tour.
“This is The Who’s real farewell tour,” Davis said. “You can go to another city to see them, but it certainly is the only time you’ll see them at Jazz Fest.”
After performing their 1973 album “Quadrophenia” in its entirety in recent years, The Who’s 2015 tour will concentrate on the band’s hits. “They’re going to play their greatest hits,” Davis confirmed. “That’s what we want.”
The Bennett-Lady Gaga duo, appearing April 26, is among this year’s prize Jazz Fest bookings. Bennett, the 88-year-old dean of the American songbook, and Gaga, a 28-year-old pop-rock star, released their duet album of pop standards, “Cheek to Cheek,” in September. Jazz Fest joins the Hollywood Bowl, Royal Albert Hall and a four-night stand at Radio City Music Hall as part of the pair’s international tour.
“Lady Gaga is standing toe-to-toe with Tony Bennett,” Davis said. “Her tone, her intonation, her phrasing is something different from the rock Lady Gaga. She sings jazz beautifully.”
The reunited Meters — featuring original members Art Neville, Leo Nocentelli, George Porter Jr. and Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste — will close the festival May 3 at the Gentilly Stage. Davis personally lobbied for the group’s return to Jazz Fest.
“All four of them have their own solo careers and different management,” he said. “But it wasn’t really a struggle. It was like booking four bands, but everybody was positive about it.”
The Meters headline a day of New Orleans music at the Gentilly Stage, sharing the bill with Dr. John’s Louis Armstrong tribute, the reunited Radiators and Deacon John.
“That’s taking it home New Orleans style,” Davis said. “They’re seminally important groups. The other thing is this festival is supposed to be fun, a lot of fun.”
The festival, which has made the Fair Grounds Race Course home for decades, continues to make adjustments to the site.
“We are always doing things but not things that change the fabric of the festival,” Davis said.
This year, beverage stands are being moved away from the racetrack, for the purpose of improving sight lines for the Acura Stage. The fairgrounds also will feature more portable toilets.
Advanced single-day tickets for Jazz Fest are $58. The gate price ticket will be $70. Children’s tickets (ages 2-10) are $5, available at the gate only. Single-day tickets to Jazz Fest are on sale by specific weekend and valid for single-day attendance. Tickets are available at www.nojazzfest.com and www.ticketmaster.com, at all Ticketmaster outlets or by calling (800) 745-3000. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Smoothie King Center Box Office.