NEW ORLEANS —
"There are 600 bands here," added Steven Kennedy. "You can't beat the price of the ticket for that kind of talent and you get a good mix of national and local artists."
A torrential downpour blew through about 5 p.m. CDT, shortly before the day's final artists would take the stage, sending fans inside any shelter they could find, including covered tents, such as the one where jazz songstress Dianne Reeves entertained a standing-room-only crowd. Reeves canceled last year's scheduled appearance after her mother died.
Fans enthusiastically embraced her when she took the stage and sang her rendition of Lena Horne's "Stormy Weather" and Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams."
"It's such a pleasure and honor to be here with you tonight," Reeves told the crowd, who cheered in response. "We made it through the rain and storm clouds now sit back and relax and enjoy the music."
Calvin Cherry, of Newport News, Va., said when he saw Reeves was on this year's lineup, he knew instantly that he'd be in the house. Cherry, a professional dancer, said Reeves' voice is like "poetry in motion."
"It's so mysterious, so haunting and has such a deep and guttural quality that it's just phenomenal. There are spaces in her voice that just resonate with me and for me to use my body to interpret her music, it's just kismet," he said.
The downpour stopped the music shortly on at least one stage, as crews rushed to cover equipment at the height of the storm. But the sweet sounds of the Gipsy Kings — a group from Arles and Montpellier in the south of France who perform in Spanish — quickly returned when the rain slowed to a drizzle.