The day-by-day schedule for the 2024 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival came out last week. But the true personality of this year’s festival can’t be fully assessed until the “cubes,” the scheduling blocks with performance times and stage assignments, are unveiled.


SEE THE CUBES:?Here's the the 2024 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival schedule, with times and stages


That will happen a month before the April 25 opening of the Fair Grounds gates.

Who will headline the three main stages — Festival, Gentilly and Congo Square — will set the tone each day and dictate some of the hard choices that fans must make.

Based on the daily lists, I’ve made some quasi-educated predictions on who will be each day’s headliner. Some are more obvious than others. But nothing’s official until the festival releases the cubes next month.

Widespread Panic haunts UNO Arena on Halloween and beyond

John Bell of Widespread Panic performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on Thursday, May 2, 2019, in New Orleans.

THURSDAY, APRIL 25

FESTIVAL STAGE: Widespread Panic

GENTILLY STAGE: The Beach Boys

CONGO SQUARE: Stephen Marley

Georgia jam band Widespread Panic has played Jazz Fest numerous times over the past two decades, always on the main stage.

Opening day is also “Locals’ Thursday.” Louisiana residents can purchase up to two tickets at the gate — and possibly in a yet-to-be-announced presale — for $50 apiece.

FRIDAY, APRIL 26

FESTIVAL STAGE: The Killers

GENTILLY STAGE: Jon Batiste

CONGO SQUARE: Kem

Hometown hero Jon Batiste delivered a huge, and hugely popular, performance on the main stage in 2023. But he’s also performed on the Gentilly Stage. He’s more likely to be on Gentilly this time.

Another homegrown act with a national profile, the Revivalists, are also on the first Friday’s bill. They would fit well in front of either Batiste or the Killers.

Anderson.Paak.jpg

Singer and rapper Anderson .Paak.

SATURDAY, APRIL 27

FESTIVAL STAGE: Chris Stapleton

GENTILLY STAGE: Vampire Weekend

CONGO SQUARE: Fantasia

This one is pretty straightforward. Stapleton, one of country music’s most popular and acclaimed singers, has only grown in popularity since his 2019 Jazz Fest appearance, which was also on the main stage.

SUNDAY, APRIL 28

The first Sunday's lineup is mystifying, as none of the acts on the first line of the day’s schedule feels like an obvious main stage headliner.

Based on precedent, classic rockers Heart would normally be at Gentilly, a la John Fogerty, Kenny Loggins and Hall & Oates in years past.

Anderson.Paak & the Free Nationals haven’t achieved the critical mass of a main stage headliner, but stylistically, they could appear on any of the three main stages.

Could Juvenile be the Congo Square closer? The homegrown rapper had a big 2023 celebrating the 25th anniversary of his watershed “400 Degreez” album and delivering a much-celebrated NPR Tiny Desk concert. Playing with producer/deejay Mannie Fresh and a live band may be enough to earn him top billing, especially on a day with no clear-cut main stage headliner.

THURSDAY, MAY 2

This will be a very different day at Jazz Fest, as there is really only one headliner: the Rolling Stones.

When the Stones hit the Festival Stage around 5 p.m., all other stages will go dark. Only about three-dozen acts are listed for this day, less than half of the totals for each of the other seven days.

It looks like festival producer/director Quint Davis plans to recreate the main stage lineup that was in place when Mick Jagger and company were originally booked in 2019. The Stones will likely be preceded by blues-rock guitarist Samantha Fish and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk. Neville is a longtime Stones affiliate: He played keyboards on a couple of Stones albums and was a member of Keith Richards’ solo band, the X-Pensive Winos. When the Stones played the Caesars Superdome in the summer of 2019 as a sort of make-up date for the canceled Jazz Fest show, Dumptastaphunk opened.

If you don’t have a ticket for Stones Thursday, you may be out of luck: Single-day tickets sold out within a couple of hours, and the festival has not said anything about making Stones tickets available at the gate. The only option at present is to buy a WWOZ Brass Pass — assuming they haven’t sold out — or a ticket package to the Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s fundraising gala.

FRIDAY, MAY 3

FESTIVAL STAGE: Foo Fighters

GENTILLY STAGE: Hozier

CONGO SQUARE: Steel Pulse

This one seems clear-cut. Foo Fighters are one of the world’s most popular rock bands, Hozier headlined Gentilly in 2015 and as reggae legends, Steel Pulse is bound for Congo Square.

You can probably even pencil in closers for other stages, too:

Blues Tent: Christone Kingfish Ingram.

Jazz Tent: Terence Blanchard.

Lagniappe Stage: Allison Russell.

Think you know Jazz Fest? Test your knowledge with our quiz

Neil Young and Promise of the Real play on the Acura Stage at Jazz Fest on Sunday, May 1, 2016 in New Orleans. (Photo by Chris Granger, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)

SATURDAY, MAY 4

FESTIVAL STAGE: Neil Young Crazy Horse

GENTILLY STAGE: Greta Van Fleet

CONGO SQUARE: Queen Latifah

Another easy one. Old rock fans will flock to Neil Young, younger rock fans will ogle Greta Van Fleet and Queen Latifah will bridge the divide.

SUNDAY, MAY 5

FESTIVAL STAGE: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

GENTILLY STAGE: Bonnie Raitt or the Wallflowers or.....

CONGO SQUARE: Earth, Wind & Fire

Congo Square favorite Frankie Beverly is retiring soon and isn't on this year's schedule. Earth, Wind & Fire should be a popular Congo Square finale, especially if Jeffrey Osborne is right in front of them.

Trombone Shorty is firmly established as the main stage closing act on the final Sunday, but a “bigger” band often precedes him (i.e. Mumford & Sons last year). The big Jimmy Buffett tribute with the Coral Reefer Band and special guests would make sense just ahead of Shorty, as Buffett always played the big stage.

Bonnie Raitt could possibly be part of that tribute, then hustle over to the other side of the Fair Grounds for her own closing set. Or she could also be on the main stage ahead of the Buffett tribute. Her pal Irma Thomas will likely go on right before her wherever she is (and, if we're lucky, join Raitt onstage for a song or two).

If Raitt is on the Festival Stage, maybe the Wallflowers close Gentilly. Or maybe guitarist Joe Bonamassa does.

Or maybe Bonamassa and George Thorogood & the Destroyers are back to back in the Blues Tent.

It’s all just speculation until the last week in March.

Email Keith Spera at kspera@theadvocate.com.