Two Gulf Coast Fests Raise Funds

Five years after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the familiar sight of benefit concerts has returned thanks to the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Residents along the coasts of southern Louisiana and Alabama still let the good times roll with the Hangout Beach, Music and Arts festival and Gulf Aid Concert the same mid-May weekend.

Organizers hope to continue Hangout as an annual destination festival. And despite heavy rain delay at the Gulf Shores, Ala., location on the fest’s last day, more than 30,000 music fans had already come out for the first two dates of the May 14-16 festival.

Organizer Shaul Zislin told the Mobile, Ala., Press-Register he decided the previous week to donate all ticket sale profits to charitable causes in the aftermath of the massive oil spill threatening the Gulf’s wildlife, fisheries and beaches. A panel of activists, including Erin Brockovich, Kathleen Kennedy and Gov’t Mule frontman Warren Haynes, spoke to reporters on environmental issues.

Some artists doubled up by playing Hangout and the Gulf Aid Concert that sprang up in New Orleans the same weekend.

The Gulf Aid Concert was delayed by two hours because of the May 16 rains, but crowds still saw a long lineup of local bands and headliners including Lenny Kravitz, Allen Toussaint, Ani DiFranco, Tab Benoit, Dr. John and John Legend, according to the Los Angeles Times.

There were no estimates of crowds or revenue at press time, but WWOZ-FM general manager David Freedman told the paper that all expenses, including food and alcohol, were covered by sponsors, allowing all money raised to go to relief efforts.