Dozens of acts, including Paul Simon, Dave Matthews Band, and Brian McKnight, have signed on to play the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.d

Dozens of acts, including Paul Simon, Dave Matthews Band, and Brian McKnight, have signed on to play the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, scheduled to take place at the New Orleans Fair Grounds over the course of two extended spring weekends: April 27-29, and May 3-6. The event will present an eclectic mix of music performed by everyone from local artists to international stars.

Among the bevy of artists slated to appear during the festival's first weekend are B.B. King, Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers, and Richard Thompson (April 27); the Funky Meters, the Wallflowers, Chante Moore, Max Roach, Buckwheat Zydeco, Koko Taylor, and the Carnegie Hall Big Band Tribute to Louis Armstrong with Jon Faddis (April 28); and Dr. John, Van Morrison, Brian McKnight, Irma Thomas, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti & The Positive Force of Nigeria, Marcia Ball, the Rebirth Brass Band, Terence Blanchard, Wayne Toups, and the Iguanas (April 29).

Big names playing the second weekend of the event include the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Widespread Panic, Lucinda Williams, Sonny Landreth, and Tab Benoit with Tabby Thomas (May 3); Paul Simon, Wilson Pickett, Galactic, Keb' Mo', Ramsey Lewis, Cyril Neville & the Authentic New Orleans R&B Revue, and Peter Holsapple (May 4); Mystikal, Dave Matthews Band, Celia Cruz with the Johnny Pacheco Orchestra, Cowboy Mouth, Elvin Jones, Trin-i-tee 5:7, North Mississippi Allstars, Sonia Dada, and Ellis Marsalis (May 5); and Fats Domino, the Neville Brothers, Al Jarreau, Pete Fountain, Allen Toussaint, the Radiators, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band (May. 6).

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 evening concerts at the Morris F.X. Jeff Municipal Auditorium in Louis Armstrong Park (tickets for which are not included in festival passes) are Brian McKnight and Chante Moore (April 27), Van Morrison with Linda Gail Lewis and B.B. King (April 28), Widespread Panic and the Wild Magnolias (May 4), and Paul Simon and Keb' Mo' (May 5).

B.B. King and Nancy Wilson will headline the Jazz & Heritage Festival Gala, held April 26 at the Sheraton New Orleans 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 are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the show. They will go on sale next Monday (Feb. 12) via Ticketmaster. For more information, including schedules and individual event details, visit the festival's official Web site.

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