Lenny Kravitz and Ani DiFranco — both of whom have homes in New Orleans — have been booked to perform at Gulf Aid, a May 16th concert that will benefit families affected by the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the Louisiana wetlands that are threatened by oil in the water. "This is not just about the coast," New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu said at press conference announcing the event today. "New Orleans needs the coastal parishes to survive."
Mos Def, Allen Toussaint, Zachary Richard, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk are also slated to perform, along with the Voice of the Wetlands Allstars — a Louisiana supergroup with Dr. John, the Meters' George Porter, Jr. and blues guitarist Tab Benoit that has worked to raise awareness about the national importance of Louisiana's endangered wetlands. Organizers hope to add more local and national acts in the next few days. The concert will run from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Mardi Gras World River City in New Orleans, on the banks of the Mississippi next to the New Orleans Convention Center. Tickets, which cost $50, are available at Elevate.
The team behind the event's immediate concern is for area fishermen and the nearby ecosystem. As WWOZ station manager David Freedman observed, though, there are concerns about how the oil spill will affect the rest of the gulf and the eastern seaboard.
In Gulf Shores, Alabama, organizers are watching the waters for fear that oil will wash up on the white sands during this weekend's Hangout Beach, Music and Arts Festival. The fest featuring Trey Anastasio, the Roots, John Legend and the Zac Brown Band is donating all ticket profits to local charities.
For promoter Stephen Rehage, who took time out from organizing the Essence Music Festival for the July 4th weekend to work on Gulf Aid, getting musicians involved seemed like an obvious choice. "For New Orleans, our musicians speak loudest."