NEW ORLEANS — It's 30 days and counting until nearly 600 performers converge on the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course for the annual celebration of music known as Jazz Fest.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will be held over two weekends, April 28-30 and May 4-7 featuring such names as Stevie Wonder, Maroon 5, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Harry Connick Jr., Aaron Neville, Snoop Dogg, Nas, Meghan Trainor, Herb Alpert, Alabama Shakes and Darius Rucker.
Organizers Tuesday released the festival's coveted "cubes," which detail what days, what stages and exact times for each performance over the festival's seven days. Full details can be found at www.nojazzfest.com .
"That one city could have all of this great talent, is just incredible in my opinion," festival producer Quint Davis said during a news conference. "I don't think you could find this kind of talent anywhere else. There are buried treasures everywhere on this schedule and I encourage you to look at those cubes, make plans and dig deep for them."
The festival's international spotlight this year shines on Cuba.
"Getting Cuba has been two years in the making," Davis said. "This is the largest and most important cultural connection we've made yet. It's going to be Cuban food and art and music all day, every day."
Among the 14 musical artists scheduled are reggaeton group Gente de Zona, jazz pianist Chucho Valdes, timba kings Los Van Van, rapper Pitbull, "street poet" Telmary and Afro-Cuban band Adonis y Osain del Monte. The artists' performance times are included, for the first time, on the festival's cubes.
In addition to the music, the Cuban cultural exchange will include opportunities to taste the country's food. Congreso Cuban catering company will serve frijoles negros (black beans) with rice; tostones (fried green plantains), ropa vieja (braised steak) and paleta de cafe con leche (coffee ice pop).
With four weeks to go, Davis said festival organizers are definitely in "go mode."
"On Monday, we began laying out the configuration for the stages and all. We're just waiting for the horses to leave before we move all the tractor-trailers into place."
The festival, in its 48th year, is presented by Shell.
Chevel Johnson, The Associated Press