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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 April 2006, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Dylan opens New Orleans jazz fest
Bob Dylan
Dylan opens this year's Jazz Fest
Bob Dylan has opened the first New Orleans Jazz Festival since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the region last year.

Fats Domino, Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello will also appear at the event, which is being held in the city over this weekend and next.

A festival spokesman said it was "an important time to support New Orleans".

Dylan played in front of thousands of fans in an outdoor concert, performing classic hits including Like a Rolling Stone and All Along the Watchtower.

New Orleans resident Domino sparked a search when he evacuated his home after the hurricane hit last August, killing 1,300 people.

The singer and pianist was missing for four days before his daughter spotted him in a photo of people being rescued.

The annual festival traditionally draws around 400,000 people and boosts the city's economy by up to $300m (165m).

It is being held at a racetrack on the northern side of city that was affected by the hurricane months ago.

Mixed bill

"With Dylan, and to have this happen again means everything to us," Julie Becker, a native New Orleanian, said while waiting for an encore from the folk-rock pioneer.

"It is what this city is about, it's what carries the city, it's the soul of the city," said Becker, 42.

More than 4,000 musicians are due to perform at this year's Jazz Fest.

The festival spokesman said: "It is an economic engine, it's an emotional engine and it is a celebration of the culture we are."

Fans will be able to join the festival over the internet on both Sundays with live coverage of the 10 stages.

Herbie Hancock is among the other stars playing in the opening weekend, with Paul Simon, Domino and Lionel Richie performing next weekend.

Other acts lined up include veteran rapper Big Daddy Kane and country star Keith Urban.

Garry Stevens, a nurse from Maine, was attending his 16th Jazz Fest.

"The music, the people, the culture and just being here in New Orleans is just a feeling in itself," said Stevens, 53.

"For it to come back after the devastating blow that Katrina put to it is a tribute to the people who live here, and I'm here to support them."

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