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Hustlers Brass Band's Big Top Residency Begins Tonight

Dismal weather getting you down? Short days got you singing the blues? Are you hungry for some free red beans and rice and funk-drenched brass-band jams? Got five bucks? Then get on down to the Big Top tonight and/or every Tuesday through the end of the year for the Hustlers Brass Band's very first official Houston residency. Comprised of a half-dozen or so of New Orleans's top players from that city's historic and still-thriving brass band scene, many of whom who now live part-time here in Houston, the Hustlers stock-in-trade is the Big Easy-fication of old-school funk and soul songs. On their debut CD, Second Line Soul, the band gumbos up everything from "Cisco Kid," "Brick House" and Bill Withers' "Use Me" to the Sanford and Son and The Jeffersons theme songs. Not that they shun the traditional New Orleans brass-band repertoire: hymns like "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" and street-parade jams like "The Second Line" and "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" get equal time, as does their irreverent take on the ancient "St. James Infirmary." Powerhouse snare drummer Lumar Leblanc - a big man with hands as fast as hummingbird wings - leads one of the most exciting rhythm sections you'll ever see, while the layered horns (two trumpets, trombone, sax) shimmer with Earth, Wind & Fire sheen. We are 100 percent certain that there is nothing better going on anywhere in Houston tonight, nor any other Tuesday through the New Year. Get your butts down to Main Street for Mardi Gras in November and December. 9 p.m. at Shoeshine Charley's Big Top Lounge, 3714 Main.

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