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Cajun Festival Moves, but Retains Its Flavor


It's the end of the rainbow for the annual Cajun-zydeco festival in Long Beach.

Actually, it's the end of Rainbow Lagoon Park as the site for the event, which this year moves to the new Queen Mary Events Park, next to the famous ocean liner.

The two-day celebration of the music, food and culture of Southwest Louisiana also has a new name: the Long Beach Bayou Festival, but will retain its usual mix of Cajun and zydeco performers, bands from Louisiana and those from California during its June 24-25 run.

Headliners from Louisiana include Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band and Willis Prudomme & Zydeco Express, both performing in California for the first time, along with Terrance Simien and Walter Mouton & the Scott Playboys, both making return appearances at the Long Beach festival.

The California bands are T-Lou & His Super Hot Zydeco Band, the San Diego Cajun Playboys and Acadiana.

For the first time, the festival will also host a swing group, Jumpin' Joz Swing Band, and offer swing-dance lessons along with the usual Cajun and zydeco dance instruction sessions.

Festival promoter Franklin Zawacki said the move was dictated by the city of Long Beach, which is trying to shift all public events out of Rainbow Lagoon to the Queen Mary site because the city wants to reserve the property for long-term development.

"For us it had the perfect ambience," Zawacki said. "We loved that spot. But it's the kind of thing that if we were to stay there, then [every other] festival would want to stay there."

On the plus side, the new site has more space than Rainbow, Zawacki said, and that will allow the resumption of workshops on Cajun and Creole music, food and folklore that were abandoned after a couple of tries because they had to be held too close to the music stage. Now there will be room for two stages and space to hold workshops far enough away so that concert sound won't intrude. "It certainly has potential," he said.

The other big difference between this year's festival is that all proceeds will go to Long Beach-based Comprehensive Child Development, which in the past has received a portion of the profits in exchange for help from CCD volunteers in staging the festival.

Tickets are $19 per day in advance, $24 at the gate and $34 for a two-day pass. Senior citizens and students pay $17; children 6-17 are $5. Children 5 and younger are free. Information: (562) 427-3713 or (562) 427-8834.

Williams III, Isaak

Another musical rite of summer in the Southland, the Hootenanny Festival, will take place as it has since it began in 1996 at Oak Canyon Ranch in Santiago Canyon. Hank Williams III and Chris Isaak top the characteristically diverse group of roots rockers and alternative-rock performers.

Others on the July 1 lineup include the Reverend Horton Heat, the X-offshoot neo-folk group the Knitters, the Blasters, Cadillac Tramps, the Damned leader Dave Vanian and his psychobilly band the Phantom Chords, Lee Rocker with Slim Jim Phantom & Friends, Royal Crown Revue and early '80s L.A.-O.C. stalwarts Jamie James & the Kingbees.

Tickets are $44 (including parking) and available through Linda's Doll Hut in Anaheim: (714) 533-1286.

Blues at the Beach

Guitarist Coco Montoya, Chicago piano blues legend Pinetop Perkins and veteran Orange County blues man James Harman lead the list of players at the eighth annual Big Time Blues Festival on July 23 in Long Beach.

Perkins is best-known for his long association with Muddy Waters, and at 87 performs live infrequently. In the tradition of blues prodigies such as Jonny Lang and Shannon Curfman, the festival will introduce 15-year-old Arizona singer and guitarist Jeff Simo to Southland blues fans.

The event runs 11 a.m to 6 p.m. at Gemmrig Park, 7390 W. Carson St., Long Beach. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the gate, and kids 12 and younger are admitted free with a paying adult. Information: (562) 426-0761.

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