The Latest: Jazzfest ends on a high note, without rain

AP News
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Posted: Apr 28, 2016 8:35 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Latest on New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (all times local):

7 p.m.

Under dark and threatening skies, the opening day of the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival ended without any more of the rain that had drenched the thousands of music fans earlier in the day.

The headliners — rocker Elvis Costello, rapper Flo Rida and the Tedeschi Trucks Band — thrilled fans with their punchy shows.

Costello and his band The Imposters paid tribute to New Orleans music legend Allen Toussaint, who died last year. Costello and Toussaint were friends and made an album together after Hurricane Katrina. For his show, Costello wore a purple cap with a button of Toussaint on the front. He also reminisced about Toussaint and played a song in homage to New Orleans and its struggles after Katrina.

Flo Rida performed a forceful and energetic set that got fans jumping and splashing in the mud. He got down from the stage and waded into the throngs of people; he also popped a bottle of champagne and sprayed it on fans during his hit song "My House."

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5:45 p.m.

Jazzfest is not only about music. There are also banks of vendors selling straw hats, hand-made jewelry, paintings with New Orleans themes, drums and much more.

Shaka Zulu, a chief with the Yellow Pocahontas tribe of Mardi Gras Indians, was at a booth selling pieces of art made from "deconstructed Mardi Gras Indian suits," he said. The pieces were splendidly colorful, just like the hand-sewn elaborate Mardi Indian suits they are made from, ranging in price from $200 to $2,200.

Rukiya Brown, a Mardi Gras Indian queen with the Creole Wild West tribe, was selling "topsy-turvy" dolls. The dolls with flowing dresses can be flipped upside down to feature either an "indigenous woman" or a Creole (a "New Orleans native") woman, she said as she demonstrated how one worked.

"People come here for the culture, the food, the entertainment, for how we smile even though things are falling apart," she said. "My pleasure is to have people see my work." For her, it's not about the money, she said. "Material things don't mean much to me."

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4:45 p.m.

The rain has stopped at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, but the crowds are thinner than usual. Many festival goers left during the earlier deluges that made the site — the infield of a racehorse track — soggy and muddy.

But the annual extravaganza of music, food and arts continued. And, for some, the thin crowds were welcome.

Vicki Ricke, a 54-year-old dental assistant from New Orleans, listening to the blues of Gary Clark Jr., said the extra room to move made the festival more fun.

Her good friend, Joan Derouen, a 60-year-old "professional grandmother" from Texas and "newbie" to Jazzfest, had a blast in the rain. Derouen said dancing in the rain is something she's always wanted to do.

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2:50 p.m.

Heavy downpours, punctuated by lightning and thunder, soaked the start of the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the premier music festival in New Orleans.

The rain and mud on Thursday though did not dampen the spirits of many music lovers — some went barefoot and others dressed in rubber boots and rain gear — who crammed together in messy fields and under tents to enjoy the variety of musical acts and genres.

By mid-afternoon, the sun poked through the clouds to the relief of festival-goers.

The headliners on Thursday included rocker Elvis Costello, rapper Flo Rida and the American roots band the Tedeschi Trucks Band, who were to play with Jimmie Vaughan and Billy F. Gibbons.

The weather forecast was better for Friday and Saturday.