NEW ORLEANS (AP) — If there's a theme to this year's New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, it may be living legends.
Headliners include B.B. King, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Hall and Oates and Fleetwood Mac. There's also a cast of modern day hit makers such as The Black Keys, Maroon 5, Jill Scott, Kem, the Dave Matthews Band and New Orleans native Frank Ocean.
Over the next two weekends, fans of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will be treated to traditional jazz as well as rock 'n roll, Cajun, gospel, blues, hip-hop, funk and zydeco.
"The way the talent fell into place this year, it became a very special year for us," festival producer Quint Davis said. "It's Jazz Fest, but it's also B.B. King, Willie Nelson. It's Ben Harper. It's Hall and Oates. We ended up with probably the greatest living proponent in each kind of music we feature here."
In all, about 5,000 entertainers will play the festival on 12 stages. The first weekend is Friday through Sunday, and the following weekend starts Thursday, May 2, and lasts until Sunday, May 5.
R&B soul singer, songwriter and producer Kem hasn't played the festival since 2005 — before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. He closes the Congo Square stage on May 2.
Kem said he loves playing in New Orleans.
"You all treat us so good," he said. "The hospitality is tremendous. The food is unbelievable. But one thing that resonates with me also is that the city is so resilient. I take inspiration from that, that you all are not just standing, but thriving. I know there are places where people are still dealing with the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina, but what greater life message is there than to move and push forward. I identify with that."
For the first time in two decades, the festival will have a new closing act on the event's largest stage. The Neville Brothers had held court on the stage for the past 20 years, but Davis said Aaron Neville wanted to promote his newest release, "My True Story," with a new band.
"It was very important to him this year to feature that and not be with the Nevilles right now," Davis said.