Mazza spent many nights over the last 20 years at Ruffin’s now famous weekly gig at Vaughn’s Lounge deep in the 9th Ward, and his analysis of the music and antics of this residency are insightful and hilarious.
In our current age when old New Orleans and all it meant fades into the shades of the past, Mazza’s book encapsulates what has and hopefully will continue to make New Orleans a place all its own. His details on the musicians and characters that played, carried on, and acted all unnecessary at this gig make their personalities jump off the page.
It will make any reader want to take a cab and a time machine back to this establishment immediately. Mazza’s recollection of the music, the musicians, and all who witnessed it both by Mazza and the participants bring out exactly how great this gig was. He writes with sensitivity about musical highlights and the unique nature of the way the musicians and audience reacted to each other. Sometimes his writing is clumsy, and some of the edits are abrupt, but that rarely takes the reader out of the world of Vaughn’s that Mazza knows so well.
By focusing on this small microcosmic corner bar/gig in New Orleans, Mazza has written a specific history of a time in the Crescent City that, due to Katrina, gentrification, HBO’s Treme, and other factors is gone for good. Those of us who were there know how special this gig in this space and time were. For the rest, Not Just Another Thursday Night: Kermit Ruffins and Vaughn’s Lounge is an excellent and well-timed account.