One of my biggest regrets to date is that I have not yet been able to make it down to New Orleans. Several of my good friends have either gone to school in the area or have visited at least once. Between the craziness that is Mardi Gras and the amazing lineups that pop up for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival every year, I feel as though I’m missing out on what would be a really special experience.

This year, Jazz Fest is taking place over the weekend of April 29th as well as the weekend of May 5th, and the lineup of performers is predictably stellar. Picking the greatest from just about every genre conceivable, the festival will host some of indie rock’s finest (The Arcade Fire and The Strokes, who were also announced to be headlining Coachella), in addition to Wilco, Lupe Fiasco, Kid Rock, Tom Jones, The Decemberists, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Maceo Parker, Keb’ Mo’, Mumford and Sons, Cyndi Lauper, Kenny G. (yes, Kenny G.), Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, John Legend & the Roots, AND the enigmatic (and punctuality-challenged) Lauryn Hill.

This lineup is in addition to the excellent lineup of New Orleans-reared talent that shows up year in and year out. The Neville Brothers, Trombone Shorty, Better Than Ezra, Kermit Ruffins, Buckwheat Zydeco, Allan Toussaint and Mystikal are just a few of the homegrown acts that will be appearing.

There will also be a special tribute to the artists and culture of Haiti, the largest of it’s kind since last year’s earthquake. Wyclef Jean (who I’m assuming will not be there on the same weekend as Lauryn Hill…can you say awkward?) will lead the charge of Haitian or Haitian-American artists performing at Jazz Fest.

While I’m not terribly certain I’m gonna be able to make it this time (my travel schedule for 2011 is quickly becoming ridiculous), this looks to be a memorable lineup, as usual. Check out the full list of artists appearing as well as ticket information on Jazzfest’s official website.

By the way, can you believe the portrait in this article (which you can buy in poster form off the Jazzfest website) was created by Tony Bennett??

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