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Eye on New Orleans

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Jazz Fest Lives

CoGo likes Mardi Gras as much as anyone, but CoGo loves Jazz Fest , the two-weekend fiesta of live bands and Creole cookin' held each spring at the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course. So great news: After months of uncertainty, organizers announced the show will go on over two weekends, April 28-30 and May 5-7. Advance tickets are $30 per day (kids are $5) at http://www.nojazzfest.com/ or through Ticketmaster.

Despite the name, Jazz Fest includes blues, gospel, cajun and rock music. Past headliners have included Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Santana and Paul Simon. But it's the local acts -- and those dreamy etouffee, muffuletta and po'boy stands -- that give the event its unique NOLA vibe. Jazz Fest should prove to be a major homecoming for New Orleans musicians.

The full lineup won't be released until later this month, but Fats Domino -- who was evacuated from his Ninth Ward home after Hurricane Katrina -- has committed to play. Having Fats back in town, pounding away on the main stage, will soothe many a heart that still aches for the Crescent City.

ON TRACK
Scenery Substitute

With spring break approaching, parents with some dough have a new way to keep kids busy on Amtrak's Autotrain between Lorton and Sanford, Fla.: digEplayers, which are digital players preloaded with entertainment.

The three-pound players, which have 7 1/2 -inch screens and can be propped up on a tray table, come with a hefty $19 each-way fee . Rent and return at either Autotrain terminal, and if the eight- to 10-hour charge runs out, get new batteries onboard for free.

Users can choose from movies (kid stuff like "Madagascar" and more adult-friendly material such as "North Country"), TV shows ("Scrubs," "Two and a Half Men"), music videos (Bon Jovi to R. Kelly), songs (Top 40, country, jazz, etc.) and Amtrak propaganda .

CoGo was impressed with the player's ease of use, the quality of the sound and image, and the variety of choices, but would caution parents to watch what the kids are plugged into . Movies are edited for profanity, but you can't avoid some of the adult material on a flick like "Old School" or a 50 Cent video.

Amtrak spokeswoman Tracy Connell said the service may eventually be extended to other lines , but that Amtrak is "still waiting to see how this is going."

Information: 866-digEplayer, http://www.railwaymedia.com.

TRAVEL TICKER

To mark Black History Month, Hampton Inn's "Hidden Landmarks" Web site has put together a list of 10 civil rights sites in Arkansas and Georgia, with info and driving directions. Details: http://www.hamptonlandmarks.com/ . . . Universal Orlando is offering free admission to children through age 9 when parents buy a two-day, two-park pass on the Internet. Usually, children over age 2 pay the same $99.95 for the pass.

Details: http://www.universalorlando.com/ . . . US Airways and America West , having already merged their airlines, last week merged their vacation sales operation. Book at http://www.usairwaysvacations.com/ , 800-455-0123 or see a travel agent . . . JetBlue is upgrading its free coffee , thanks to a new partnership with Dunkin' Donuts . . . United exited bankruptcy protection last week but warns that fuel prices might prevent making money. ATA hopes to leave bankruptcy by the end of February . . . The Toronto/Roches ter ferry , after losing $10 million in 10 months, recently ceased operation.

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK

American is offering sale fares to Delhi, India. The round-trip fare from Dulles, Reagan National or BWI is $769 (with taxes, about $842). Depart April 1-May 15, and return by May 31. Purchase at www.aa.com no later than Feb. 11. Continental is offering a similar sale. The fare is typically about $1,268 round trip.

Reporting: Steve Hendrix, John Deiner, Cindy Loose.

Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to: cogo@washpost.com. By fax: 202-912-3609. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.

Exotic India

Fly to India for $842 round trip, including taxes. Details: What's the Deal?, Page P3.

Reporting: Steve Hendrix, John Deiner, Cindy Loose.

Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to: cogo@washpost.com. By fax: 202-912-3609. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.

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