NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Bon Jovi has been added to this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, putting the rockers in the company of Aretha Franklin, James Taylor, Sugarland and others already slated to perform.
“I’m thrilled,” said Jazz Fest producer Quint Davis, who called the group “one of the greatest American rock bands of all time.”
This will be the group’s first Jazz Fest appearance, Davis said Thursday.
Bon Jovi formed in the early 1980s with lead singer Jon Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora, keyboardist David Bryan and drummer Tico Torres. The band has been rocking for a quarter-century and has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
But there’s another reason having the group at Jazz Fest is special, Davis said.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast in August 2005, Bon Jovi gave Oprah Winfrey $1 million to help build more than 20 homes for low-income families displaced by the storm.
The homes were built in Houma, through Habitat for Humanity and Oprah’s Angel Network, Davis said.
“That really says something about this group’s sense of humanity and responsibility,” Davis said. “It says that they’re unique and extraordinary, that they have a spirit and a soul … to be that generous.”
Davis said to his knowledge, Bon Jovi hasn’t performed in New Orleans in roughly 20 years.
The group will join Dr. John, Kings of Ten, The O’Jays, Cowboy Mouth and more than a dozen other acts performing on May 2. In all, Jazz Fest spans seven days over two weekends — April 24 to 26 and April 30 to May 3.
Others slated to perform are Wynton Marsalis, Joe Cocker, Henry Butler and Trombone Shorty. They will entertain audiences on different stages April 24, the festival’s opening day. Other first weekend acts include Irma Thomas, James Taylor, Wilco, Erykah Badu, Pete Seeger and Etta James.
Performing the second weekend are Ben Harper, Emmylou Harris, Sugarland, Tony Bennett, Bonnie Raitt, Allen Toussaint and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.
Like last year, the Neville Brothers will be the festival’s closing act on May 3.
This year, Jazz Fest is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Prices for general admission tickets are $40, if purchased in advance, and $50 at the gate. And time is running out for the package of discounted tickets, priced at $105 for the first weekend and $140 for the second, which includes an extra day. The special rates were made available for the first time this year but it expires Feb. 18, Davis said.