Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers

Sunday

ACL Music Fest Live Shots
Photo By Gary Miller

Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers

Zilker Park, Sept. 25

"See all the party people up front, dancing for their lives?" asked trumpeter Kermit Ruffins midway through his swinging Sunday night set. "That's how we do it in New Orleans." With all of the misery that's befallen Ruffins' beloved city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, this year's ACL appearance was a bittersweet one. Nevertheless, the music plays on. Ruffins and his Barbecue Swingers – he reputedly cooks just as good as he plays – rolled out a set touching on everything from Dixieland jazz to hip-hop. As a founding member of the Rebirth Brass Band, Ruffins knows how to bring the funk, but his solo performances take a more nuanced approach. Trading solos with trombonist Corey Harris, Ruffins followed Satchmo-hearted takes on "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" and "Pennies From Heaven" with a jaunty versions of "Basin Street Blues" and "Li'l Liza Jane" that held extra resonance for the many New Orleans natives in attendance. Women climbed onstage and shook their moneymakers with joyous abandon. Ruffins brought the evening to a close with the African jazz standard "Skokiaan," which if bottled could cure more depression than any pharmaceutical. So long as Ruffins and the Swingers are out playing somewhere, New Orleans is open for business.

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