As hundreds of thousands of festival-goers gathered in New Orleans’ City Park over Halloween weekend for the 2014 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, event organizers, musicians and Gulf community members sounded the call for the restoration of the Gulf and Louisiana’s coast.
“The health of the Gulf is important to us because it provides so much to all the people who live along its shores,” said the Revivalists, who played the Flambeau Stage on Sunday. “Without it so much about our way of life would be lost, and it's imperative that we work hard to keep it healthy for future generations.”
“The sea is alive, it's living and living next to the sea is a special treat,” said Craig Klein of Bonerama, which played the Flambeau Stage on Friday. “If the Gulf is not taken care of, the sea will get sick, as it did after the BP oil spill and the way of life around the sea is changed for the worse.”
"We are committed to preserving the vitality of the environment along Louisiana's Gulf Coast," says Steve Rehage, founder of the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience and President, Live Nation Festivals. "With the Voodoo, we want to provide a platform for artists and fans to not only be informed, but also get involved with programs like Gulf Restoration Network that help keep the coastline a safe and beautiful place for everyone."
During the festival, Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) worked with SouthWings, a conservation-focused volunteer pilot nonprofit, to offer Voodoo musicians flights over Louisiana’s rapidly disappearing wetlands. On Friday before their set at the Ritual Stage, Rise Against participated in a flight.
“Being a band from Chicago, trips like this help us connect with a place far from home and how critical the situation is down here,” stated Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath. “Rise Against has a healthy and hungry young audience and we look forward to engaging them in environmental issues like the restoration of the Gulf.”
The Gulf and Louisiana’s coast have a rich cultural and musical history, and are key drivers of the nation’s economy. Unfortunately, as BP’s oil continues to wash on the Gulf’s shores and Louisiana’s coast continues to disappear at an alarming rate, the future of communities like New Orleans is at risk.
"Flying out along the coast, the damage to Louisiana's wetlands is unmistakable and heartbreaking. But, you also see how quickly areas can rebuild when the sediment from the Mississippi River is allowed to flow out into the wetlands again,” said Meredith Dowling, Gulf Program Director with Southwings. “It's no simple task to rebuild our coastal ecosystems, but it gives me hope to see musicians standing in solidarity with Gulf Coast communities calling for swift action to restore our coast."
For the eighth year, Gulf Restoration Network partnered with the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience to elevate the restoration of the Gulf and Louisiana’s coasts. As part of this partnership, Gulf Restoration Network had a booth at the festival, where volunteers spoke with festivalgoers and got them involved though a No Coast No Music Photobooth. GRN also worked with Voodoo musicians to get the word out via social media, participation in a video public service announcement and stage shout outs.
“We are proud to partner with the Voodoo Experience and the amazing musicians that play Voodoo,” said Raleigh Hoke, Communications Director with Gulf Restoration Network. “Without the coastal wetlands that protect communities like New Orleans from hurricanes and storm surge, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy all the great music, food and fun that Voodoo and Louisiana have to offer. It’s time to turn the tide and get down to the urgent business of restoring our coast.”