NEW ORLEANS — A steady, sometimes heavy rain pelted fans Sunday at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, but the music flowed on.
A soaked Dave Matthews and his band played through a strong downpour at the tail end of the closing weekend, much to the fans' delight as they danced along with him and cheered him through the bad weather.
Matthews ended his performance just before a flash of lightning and strong thunder echoed his goodbyes to the crowd, which stretched to the back track and beyond despite the weather, as is usual for that stage.
Umbrellas, rain boots and plastic ponchos were out in abundance early as fans stood among the puddles and water-soaked grass, awaiting clearer skies. The rain had stopped for a time in the afternoon, but came back in time to drench the evening crowd.
Paul Rother, of Venice Beach, Calif., said he and his friend, Mark Sender, of Hollywood, drove 2,300 miles to attend this year's festival, and a little rain wasn't going to make them stay inside.
"The bands go on, rain or shine. I was at Woodstock. It rained there, too," he said, laughing.
Rother, a first-timer to the festival, said he decided to attend after Sender spoke so highly of the city and the event.
"New Orleans is the best city in America," Sender said. "And since Katrina, I've wanted to contribute to the economy as much as I can."
As Steven and Jessica Kennedy pushed their 2 ½-year-old daughter, Miriam, in a stroller, the New Orleans residents said weather wouldn't deter them from getting out to hear the likes of the Nevilles, the Dave Matthews Band and B.B. King.
"She wanted to come more than we did," Jessica Kennedy said of the toddler. "We're prepared. We have a lot of rain gear."