The Rolling Stones set to play New Orleans Jazz Fest 2024, opening Thursday


NEW ORLEANS — It looks like the third time is the charm as the 2024 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival prepares, again, for The Rolling Stones to perform.

The festival, which spans two weekends, is set to open Thursday with dozens of acts playing daily on 14 stages spread throughout the historic Fair Grounds race course. The Stones play next Thursday, May 2, tickets for which have long been sold out.

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In 2019, festival organizers thought they had landed the legendary rock band, but the appearance was canceled because lead singer Mick Jagger had heart surgery. They tried again in 2021, but a surge in COVID-19 cases ultimately forced the fest to cancel.

Now, says festival producer Quint Davis, “It’s gonna be special.”

This will be the first time the Stones play Jazz Fest.

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Opening day acts include rock bands Widespread Panic and The Beach Boys, reggae artist Stephen Marley and jazz vocalist John Boutte.

“The talent is great, the weather is projected to be good and people’s expectations are going to be met,” Davis said.

Blue skies, sunshine and temperatures in the 80s were forecast for opening day Thursday. Similar weather was expected for the rest of the first weekend, which runs through Sunday and showcases performances by Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Jon Batiste, country megastar Chris Stapleton, R&B singer Fantasia, rock band Heart, Cajun fiddler Amanda Shaw and The Cute Guys, jazz pianist Patrice Rushen, and blues and folk artist Ruthie Foster.

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Anticipation for the Stones’ performance is palpable, Davis said.

“All I’m hearing is ‘How can I get a ticket?’” he said of fans trying to see the marquee performance. “Unfortunately for some, that day sold out in like a day-and-a-half after tickets went on sale. I think people have just waited so long for this.”

The Rolling Stones in October released “ Hackney Diamonds,” their first album of original material since 2005 and their first without drummer Charlie Watts, who died in 2021. Though he hasn’t seen a set list, Davis said fans can expect to hear a mix of greatest hits and new releases. No special guests are expected to perform with the Rolling Stones, but Davis said “never say never.”

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“Just expect euphoria,” he said laughing. “I think maybe we’re going to need some ambulances on site because people are going to spontaneously combust from the excitement. And, they’re playing in a daylight event. They’re gonna be able to make eye contact with the audience. That’s going to create a really special bond.”

Acts on the festival’s 14 stages usually play simultaneously beginning when gates open at 11 a.m. and continuing until the music ends at 7 p.m. But the other stages will shut down next week when the Stones take the stage.

“We didn’t want to have 13 empty stages and no people in front of them when the Stones start singing favorites like ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ and ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,'” Davis said. “Everyone who bought a ticket for that day primarily bought one to see The Stones.”

Davis said tickets for the festival’s other days remain available and can be purchased online through their website.

Much of Jazz Fest celebrates the Indigenous music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana but the music encompasses nearly every style imaginable: blues, R&B, gospel, Cajun, Zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, folk, Latin, rock, rap, contemporary and traditional jazz, country, bluegrass and everything in between.

Colombia’s rhythms, from music to dance and food, also will be highlighted this year as part of the festival’s cultural exchange. Close to 200 Colombian artists are scheduled to participate, including headliners Bomba Estéreo on Saturday, ChocQuibTown’s lead singer Goyo in a guest appearance with local band ÌFÉ on Sunday, and salsa legends Grupo Niche closing the celebration on May 5.

And don’t forget the food. During the festival, food available on site includes crawfish bread, pecan catfish meuniere and catfish almondine, cochon de lait and turducken po-boys, boudin, crawfish étouffée, jambalaya, crawfish Monica and shrimp and grits.

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