New Orleans Jazz Festival 2024: Rolling Stones Set to Ignite Euphoria After Two-Year Wait

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The city of New Orleans hums in anticipation as preparations for the 2024 Jazz & Heritage festival—set to span two thrilling weekends—swing into full gear. After two missed shots at the golden opportunity, the festival is eager for the third time to be the golden charm as it gears up for a headlining performance by the legendary Rolling Stones.

Taking place in the historical Fair Grounds race course, the festival offers a musical banquet every day of its run, featuring a staggering 14 stages where dozens of diverse acts perform daily. On May 2, the long-awaited performance by the Rolling Stones—the first in the festival’s history—is set to send the crowd into a euphoric frenzy. Up until now, disappointment had been a familiar tune every time the Stones were slated to perform—in 2019, lead singer Mick Jagger’s heart surgery led to a cancellation, and two years later in 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to the festivities.

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Yet according to a hopeful Quint Davis, the festival producer, the third time promises to deliver a historic and memorable event. “It’s gonna be special,” Davis promises. A myriad of talents light up the festival’s opening day—the rock ‘n’ roll prowess of Widespread Panic and The Beach Boys, the reggae beats of Stephen Marley, and the mellifluous jazz vocals of Jon Boutte.

“The talent is great, the weather is projected to be good, and people’s expectations are going to be met,” Davis confirms. Spectacular weather gracing the festival is forecasted with blue skies, abundant sunshine, and moderate temperatures in the 80s making it a dream-come-true for any music aficionado.

No doubt, the ensemble of performers throughout the first weekend reads like a dream roster: Jon Batiste, fresh off his Grammy win; country music behemoth Chris Stapleton; R&B sensation Fantasia; the formidable rock staple Heart; cute Cajun fiddler Amanda Shaw alongside The Cute Guys; jazz maestro Patrice Rushen; and multi-genre virtuoso Ruthie Foster. It’s a panoply of sound, flavor, and rhythm that is bound to delight.

The eager thrum of fans waiting for the iconic Stones to take the stage is palpable and electrifying. Davis shares, “All I’m hearing is ‘How can I get a ticket?’” It sadly sold out in just a day-and-a-half after sales commenced. Davis feels the pent-up anticipation, sharing, “I think people have just waited so long for this.”

The Rolling Stones, who lost drummer Charlie Watts in 2021, released their first album of new material since 2005 titled “Hackney Diamonds” in October. While Jones hasn’t seen the setlist yet, he is optimistic fans will be treated to a mix of renowned hits and fresh releases—with no confirmed special guests thus far, but as Davis says, “never say never.” Davis assures festival-goers of a performance radiating euphoria, adding in jest that ambulances might be needed as “people are going to spontaneously combust from the excitement.”

On normal festival days, the bold and diverse acts captivate audiences from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. across the 14 stages, but when the Stones take the stage, all other performances pause. Davis explains, “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.’ Everyone who bought a ticket for that day primarily bought one to see The Stones.”

The festival, a prolific celebration of the indigenous music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana, showcases styles ranging from blues, R&B, gospel, Cajun, Zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, folk, Latin, rock, rap, contemporary and traditional jazz, country, bluegrass, and everything in between. As an added touch, Colombian rhythms, dance, and cuisine take the spotlight this year as part of the festival’s cultural exchange.

Over 200 Colombian artists will be delighting audiences, marking a rich intersection of cultures and sounds. Headliners include Bomba Estéreo on Saturday, ChocQuibTown’s lead singer Goyo making a guest appearance with local band ÌFÉ on Sunday, and salsa legends Grupo Niche closing the ceremony on May 5.

Alongside the pulsating music, mouth-watering native cuisine also lures in festival-goers, with treats like 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 tantalizing the taste buds.

With electric performances, an all-embracing spirit of unity, and exquisite flavors, the 2024 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival is primed to make up for the setbacks in the past years and deliver an event that attendees will forever remember.