Okay, it's officially official only because the opening ceremonies for Festival International de Louisiane take place this evening, 7:15 p.m. on Scene Popeye's International.

Other than that, Festival has been going on in some shape or form all over downtown Lafayette since last Thursday's kick-off party.

But about the opening ceremonies, you'll not want to miss Brother Dege, aka Dege Legg, playing The Star-Spangled Banner. Legg says he has been closing his sets with the national anthem - the Jimi Hendrix-inspired version - for about a year.

Legg will play the instrumental version of the national anthem on his dobro andconsiders it as "Ry Cooder meets Hendrix."dege2

For Legg, his take on the song "explores the nature of freedom, real freedom. Freedom in the political sense and creative sense," he says. "I love the Hendrix version. I think it's one of the most inspired versions of it."

Legg says he sees "a lot of our freedoms getting compromised on the political stage and a lot of people have lost faith in the political system.

"I play it the way I do as a pure means of freedom of expression. I don't consider it irreverent," says Legg. "I think it's very patriotic in a true 1776 sense. In a lot of ways, I believe we're still fighting the American Revolution. And this is an expression of that in a joyous sense and an appreciation the freedoms we do have."

Legg says his father is a Vietnam vet and his grandfather a veteran of WWII, "so I've a lot of respect for people who fight for freedom," he says. "I'll fight for any kind of cause."

Also this evening, Sonny Landreth precedes Legg at 6 p.m. on the same stage and Bombino (8 p.m.) and Robert Randolph Family Band (9:45 p.m.) follow. Meanwhile on Scene Malibu Fais Do Do, Bas Clas with Eric Adcock, Dickie Landry and Roddie Romero start at 6 p.m., followed by Ceux Qui Marcehnt Debout (7:45 p.m.) and Debo Band (9:30 p.m.).

Legg is scheduled to play the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Sunday, May 6, 11:20 a.m., at the Blues Tent.

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