New Orleans band thanks France for Katrina help

21st October 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 21 (AFP) - The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, one of the top musical groups based in hurricane-battered New Orleans, kicked off a European tour this week with shows thanking France for its help in providing relief.

PARIS, Oct 21 (AFP) - The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, one of the top musical groups based in hurricane-battered New Orleans, kicked off a European tour this week with shows thanking France for its help in providing relief.

"Americans again found the French at their side" in the response to the disaster, US ambassador to France Craig Stapleton told a Paris audience gathered to see the band late Thursday.

Those attending included a group of 17 French navy divers who worked to strengthen embankments and clear port areas in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which struck the southern US coast on August 29, resulting in more than 1,200 deaths.

Ben Jaffe, the band's bass player, said the storm had caused "catastrophic" damage both physically and musically to New Orleans, a town founded by the French in 1718 and sold to the United States in 1803 that went on to earn a reputation as jazz capital of the world.

His band, he said, was "raising awareness and funds to bring the musicians back to New Orleans."

"The issue is that there's no one in the city right now," he added.

Before the storm, the city, Jaffe said, was "literally an island of culture in a sea of -- I don't want to say idiocy -- of mainstream America" and now the continuation of that legacy was uncertain.

The jazz band was scheduled to continue its tour with concerts in Britain, Austria and Spain.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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