The 2016 New Orleans Jazz Fest “cubes,” with the full schedule of stage assignments and performance times arranged in stacked blocks, are out. Tuesday’s release kicked off the one-month countdown until the gates of the Fair Grounds open for the festival’s first Friday on April 22.
During a press conference inside the paddock area of the Fair Grounds grandstand on Tuesday, longtime Jazz Fest producer/director Quint Davis also revealed several changes to the festival’s layout and regulations. The changes are intended to improve the flow of pedestrian traffic.
The unveiling of the cubes allows fans of the festival -- officially, it’s the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell -- to finally start mapping out strategies for seeing as much music as possible. With 10 stages of live music, no one person can see it all; conflicting times, and thus hard choices, are inevitable.
Pearl Jam has the longest set of any act at the festival this year. The band is scheduled to play 2 1/2 hours at the Acura Stage on the first Saturday, April 23. Galactic was given the prime spot on the Acura Stage just ahead of Pearl Jam, preceded by Anders Osborne, Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli and local soul singer/keyboardist Nigel Hall.
The next day, Sunday, April 24, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will make their Jazz Fest debut with a two hour show at the Acura Stage.
The progressions on each stage are what really make up Jazz Fest’s “show,” Davis said. Such as when Louisiana guitarist Tab Benoit and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats will precede Van Morrison on the Gentilly Stage on April 23. Or how Big Freedia, the Rebirth Brass Band and Snoop Dogg close out the Congo Square Stage on the second Saturday, April 30.
On Thursday, April 28, guitar fans will want to spend the day at the Acura Stage to see Sonny Landreth, Gary Clark Jr. and the Tedeschi Trucks Band with special guest Jimmie Vaughan back-to-back.
As the festival announced last week, Latin crooner Julio Iglesias has dropped out of the festival. He’s been replaced by Colombian pop star and actor Carlos Vives.
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Check back later for more news and observations about the schedule.