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Lenny Kravitz to Headline Gulf Aid Benefit

Musicians rallied to help save Louisiana's coast, its fishermen and its heritage in a benefit concert dubbed Gulf Aid that will feature Lenny Kravitz and Ani DiFranco - two artists who call the Big Easy home.

"It's only fitting that the individuals who are the protectors of our culture, the musicians, come to the aid of those who help supply our culture, the fishermen," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said on Monday.

Landrieu said the concert will help draw attention to "this catastrophic failure that's happening off our coast."

At least 4 million gallons of oil have spilled since the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. At that pace, the spill would surpass the 11 million gallons spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster by Father's Day.

Sunday's benefit will be held from noon to 10 p.m. CDT at Mardi Gras World River City, which sits dockside to the Mississippi River. Tickets cost $50 and are available online via Elevate Tickets, Proceeds will go to the Gulf Relief Foundation and will benefit fishermen and their families, whose livelihood depends on the Gulf, as well as organizations that fight to protect and shore up Louisiana's disappearing coast, said David Freedman, general manager of WWOZ FM and one of the organizers.

Freedman said interest in the event skyrocketed.

"Everyone knows it's the right thing to do," he said. "This is an effort to protect a way of life and the people, whose lives are affected."

Voodoo Festival producer Steve Rehage, president of Rehage Entertainment and the benefit's producer, said Kravitz was the first to sign up to participate.

Sidney D. Torres, who owns SDT Waste and Debris, LLC., said Kravitz told him he was proud to lend his voice to the effort. "He told me that the city's food is just as important as its music and people," he said.

Also scheduled to perform are rapper Mos Def, John Legend, Allen Toussaint, Zachary Richard, Irvin Mayfield's Playhouse Review, Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers, Jeremy Davenport, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Rebirth Brass Band, Soul Rebels Brass Band, MyNameIsJohnMichael. Also performing is The Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars - featuring Tab Benoit, Dr. John, Cyril Neville, George Porter Jr., Waylon Thibodeaux, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Johnny Sansone and Johnny Vidacovich.

Ewell Smith, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, thanked everyone associated with putting the benefit together.

"On behalf of the fishermen and their families, we are incredibly grateful," he said.

Smith also said the best way anyone can help is by "continuing to eat Louisiana seafood," noting that the seafood consumers are getting is safe and that fishing areas in the western part of the state and in waters in the state's interior are open.

Freedman said the benefit concert is the kickoff event. "But we know this is a longterm situation. After this, we'll look and see what happens next."

Donations also can be sent to Gulf Aid, P.O. Box 6917, Metairie, La. 70009.

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