It won’t just be the Saints marchin’ in to London this week. In conjunction with the Saints-Chargers game in London’s Wembley Stadium this Sunday, Louisiana’s musicians will be showcased in a mini-Jazz Fest Friday and Saturday. Lafayette’s Michael Doucet and Buckwheat Zydeco join Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Kermit Ruffins, the Rebirth Brass Band, Marcia Ball and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux among others to put on a two day festival at The O2, an enormous entertainment complex along the Thames River.
The festival is the brainchild of the New Orleans and Louisiana tourism industry, designed to target European travelers. Tourism has been down post Hurricane Katrina, and tourism officials saw an opportunity to show off the state’s culture to a British audience. The festival is being co-produced by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and sponsored to the tune of $75,000 by the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.
The O2 will be set up with a central promenade remade in the likeness of Bourbon Street, balconies and all. That will be the setting for parades and second lines. “It’s going to be wild, performing over there with all these great New Orleans musicians,” Doucet told the Associated Press. “It’s going to be like Tip’s (Tipitina’s) on a Saturday night.”
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