When Kermit Ruffins is in the room, you know you’re at the right party. Clubs that book him are sure to get a good crowd, and that’s part of the reason why he’s in such high demand for local fundraisers and benefit events. His music is instantly accessible, fun and identifiably, undeniably New Orleans.
Dale Watson fills much the same role for his own hometown. But that town is Austin, Texas, so instead of jazz he’s a master of honky-tonk style country music. He’s the real deal, a consummate performer and the old-timey antidote to modern country acts that sound (and, increasingly, look) like glorified pickup truck commercials.
If Kermit Ruffins at his best channels the spirit of Louis Armstrong, when you see Dale Watson perform you might hear Hank Williams, Buck Owens or Lefty Frizzell.
This second act is a new one on me, but it certainly has its musical bona fides front and center. It’s a project of Cyril Neville, of local Neville Brothers fame, of course, St. Louis-based guitarist Mike Zito and guitarist and singer Devon Allman, son of Gregg Allman (yes, that Gregg Allman). Look for Charlie Wooton on bass and local drumming legend Mean Willie Green on percussion. That’s a pretty heavy lineup, and while I have yet to hear these guys they promise a blend of rock, soul, funk and more rock that sounds like a good fit at Rock ‘n’ Bowl.
As for Dale Watson, I’ve been lucky enough to catch him playing on his home turf during visits to Austin. Actually, luck doesn’t have much to do with it. The guy is constantly on stage (see the Kermit Ruffins analogy). He always gets a great crowd back home and he puts on unforgettable shows, whether he’s on stage at Austin’s essential Continental Club or the Broken Spoke, at small Austin music events or at big time festivals. This Friday, the stage to catch him on is right here in New Orleans at Rock ‘n’ Bowl.
Rock ‘n’ Bowl
3016 S. Carrollton Ave.
9:30 p.m. show, $10 at the door