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Getting Back in the Groove

This year's Clarendon Day will feature a displaced New Orleans band trying to rebuild.

Besides featuring its usual array of food, artists and music, this year’s Clarendon Day street festival will showcase a New Orleans brass band trying to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

The Stooges Brass Band will play at noon this Saturday at the 8th annual festival, held on eight square blocks surrounding the Clarendon Metro station.

Up to 10,000 people are expected to attend the festival, which will be held from noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 15. The event is free and is organized by the Clarendon Alliance in collaboration with seven sponsors.

Most of the members of the Stooges Brass Band were unable to evacuate from New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina made landfall. The percussionist experienced the most dramatic evacuation of the seven-member band, when he was rescued after swimming from his home to a deluged highway, said Walter Ramsey, the band’s trombonist. All members of the band lost their homes and instruments when New Orleans’ Ninth Ward was flooded.

The band regrouped in Atlanta following their evacuation and decided to embark on its “March On” tour, with instruments donated by Minnesota Jazz musician Eric Jacobson and fellow artists.

“We lost everything we had worked for,” said Ramsey, during a phone interview from Madison, Wisc., where the band performed on Monday. “For us to receive these horns and play again has truly lifted our spirits.

The band formed in 1996 and is a regular participant in the New Orleans Heritage and Jazz Festival and the city’s revered jazz funerals. The Stooges Brass Band, supported by Jacobson’s band, are on a 16-city tour and plan to continue touring until they are able to return to New Orleans.

“Rather than sitting in a hotel worrying about their future, they are playing and people are supporting them,” said Jacobson.

RadioClarendon.com, a new Arlington-based Internet radio station that opened in August and is organizing Clarendon Day’s concerts, is collecting money to help the band members rebuild their lives.

“We hope we can promote them, and honor New Orleans and the essence of jazz,” said Sona Virdi, the radio station’s owner. “We want to raise enough money to keep their tour going and have something to base their lives on when they get back to Louisiana.”

Local Zydeco DJ Texas Fred will host the band for a show at Chick Hall’s Surf Club in Bladensburg, Md., on Oct. 14.

THIRTEEN OTHER BANDS will play during Clarendon Day on three separate stages, including the Grandsons, the Bicycle Thieves, Onestop, Jumpin Jupiter, and Brother Shamus. Arlingtones, a men’s a cappella troupe, will be performing on the city streets.

There will be numerous activities for children, including a moon bounce activity, a soccer game and characters in costume roaming the festival grounds. The Museum of Modern Arf will conduct a chalk painting activity.

“It’s a fun community celebration that is home grown and not wild,” said Ronni Freeman, director of the Clarendon Alliance. “It’s a very family-friendly event.”

More than 15 artist booths will line the streets of Clarendon and attendees will be able to purchase jewelry, pottery and wooden sculptures.

Local restaurants will sponsor booths where people can sample their food, and the Redskins cheerleaders are also expected to make an appearance.