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Voodoo Music Experience Draws Record Crowds

NEW ORLEANS (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — As New Orleans continues to come back to life, music fans turned out in record numbers this weekend for the Voodoo Music Experience. With glorious weather and a football game across town at the Superdome, the city was ready for a weekend long celebration.

Nearly 100,000 people–a record-setting crowd for this eight-year-old festival–gathered together to listen to music Saturday and Sunday as the festival returned to its rightful home in New Orleans’ City Park.

Writing in the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, David Purdum summed up the weekend of music by saying, “The emotion of a devastated city’s perseverance could be felt at every stage.”

It was a real celebration with more than 75 bands performing over the course of three days both at the City Park site and at official after shows at various clubs throughout the city as part as the Voodoo 24/7 programs.

A much bandied-about collaboration between Saturday headliners the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the reunion of the Original Meters marked the highlight of a wide-range of musical collaborations and odes to New Orleans and Louisiana. In the main performance area, Duran Duran paid tribute to the city by covering "House of the Rising Sun”; the Drive By Truckers performed a stirring version of Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927” and John Frusciante took a turn on “The City of New Orleans.” Other organic musical collaborations within New Orleans’ own community took place throughout the weekend on both the WWOZ/SoCo Stage and in the Preservation Hall tent.

The Times Picayune’s Keith Spera said, “With a new venue in City Park and made-to-order weather, the Voodoo Music Experience showed signs of coming into its own…a manifestation of festival founder Steve Rehage's desire to stage a contemporary festival that simultaneously celebrates New Orleans' legacy…Official estimates for Saturday's attendance, the largest single day at Voodoo since the Eminem invasion in 2000, ranged as high as 60,000…Those numbers indicate Voodoo may have turned a corner.”

As Duran Duran’s John Taylor told ABC News, “To be able to come and play an event like this at any time would be great. But obviously, if we can be of any sort of help in the rehabilitation of the city, and opening the city back up, we're very proud to be a part of it.”

My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way also told ABC News, “To be able to come back today and do it, it really means a lot. I think this festival's probably the most important [thing] to this city, because of what it represents, like the fact that it's a city that's picked itself up after something really hard happened.”

The weekend’s events began on Friday with four hours of free live music at the festival site before concluding with a blessing of the site as part of the Rhythmic Roots Community Music Drum Circle Project featuring Shannon Powell, Michael Skinkus and Moyuba with special guest Pedro Martinez, Fi Yi Yi: Spirit of the Mandingo Warrior, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and many more.

And the music didn’t end at City Park until Sunday night when Cowboy Mouth’s Fred Le Blanc took the stage (as described by The Times Picayune’s Keith Spera) for “an a cappella ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ He has sung ‘Rainbow’ for years, but the lyrics resonate in New Orleans more today than 15 months ago: ‘Some day I'll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me/Where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops/That's where you'll find me.’ Thank you, and good night.”