Hundreds of acts, including Lenny Kravitz, Wynton Marsalis, Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt, and India.Arie, have signed on to play the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, to be held at t

Hundreds of acts, including Lenny Kravitz, Wynton Marsalis, Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt, and India.Arie, have signed on to play the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, to be held at the Fair Grounds Race Course over the course of two extended spring weekends: April 26-28 and May 2-5. The event will present an eclectic mix of music performed by everyone from local artists to international stars.

Among the artists slated to appear during the festival's first weekend are Counting Crows, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, String Cheese Incident, Taj Mahal, and the Funky Meters (April 26); Kravitz, Arie, Galactic, Wayne Shorter Quartet, Robert Mirabal, and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown (April 27); and Marsalis, Etheridge, Dr. John, Teddy Pendergrass, Elvin Bishop, and an Ella Fitzgerald tribute led by the Count Basie Orchestra with special guest Patti Austin (April 28).

Big names playing the second weekend of the event include Gov't Mule, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, and the Charles Mingus Big Band (May 2); Raitt, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (May 3); Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Refer Band, Lloyd Price, Huey "Piano" Smith, and Bobby Womack (May 4); and the Neville Brothers, Phil Lesh and Friends, Ratdog, the Radiators, and Buckwheat Zydeco (May 5).

This year's event will introduce a blues tent with a capacity of more than 3,000. Among the acts slated to appear there are Delbert McClinton, Shemekia Copeland, Lonnie Brooks, and Deacon John.

Outside of the Fair Grounds, the festival will encompass several other events, including the Harrah's Evening Concert Series, the annual charity gala, a Louis Armstrong film festival, and daily workshops held at local schools and theaters. So far, acts booked for the Harrah's evening concerts at various venues include Kravitz (April 27), Etheridge and Taj Mahal (April 27), Lesh and Gov't Mule and the Yellowjackets and the Astral Project (May 4).

Fats Domino, the Zion Harmonizers featuring Aaron Neville, Henry Butler, and the Pinettes Brass Band will perform at the Jazz & Heritage Festival Gala, set for April 25 at the Fairmont Hotel. Proceeds from the $500 tickets will benefit the charitable and educational programs of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation.

Tickets for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival went on sale today (Feb. 18) via Ticketmaster. For more information, including schedules and individual event details, visit the festival's official Web site.

As previously reported, such acts as Medeski Martin & Wood, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Ozomatli, the New Deal, and Vida Blue will play the Superfly During Jazzfest concert series, which runs concurrently with the Jazz & Heritage Festival.