Author`s name AP ©

Jazz, not politics, rules at White House picnic for lawmakers

White House relations with Congress may be ruffled, but members of both branches of government mingled on the White House lawn to soothing strains of New Orleans-style jazz.

"You all enjoy yourself," said President George W. Bush, who ambled out on the lawn with first lady Laura Bush to greet guests at the annual White House congressional picnic.

"Make sure you pick up all the trash after it's over," he joked just before Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers struck up a rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching in."

The picnic at the Republican-run White House comes at a time that Democrats control Congress. Republicans were still in charge at the time of last year's picnic.

Bush thanked leaders of both chambers for attending, and pointed out that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in the crowd. "It means a lot that you've come," Bush said.

The lawn was covered with picnic tables topped in yellow-and-white checked tablecloths.

Drivers in top hats ferried some of the estimated 1,500 guests around the White House driveway in horse-drawn carriages. There were Mardi Gras beads, ice cream and tents stocked with New Orleans fare, including barbecued shrimp, fried green tomatoes and gumbo.

"I want to thank our chef, Paul Prudhomme - one of the great chefs in America. Thanks for coming, Paul," Bush said.

White House spokesman Tony Snow played with his band, called Beats Workin'. Snow's band opened with their version of "Johnny B Good." Snow then played a flute solo while walking around the stage in jeans, an orange shirt and sneakers. The Doobie Brothers' hit, "China Grove," was the finale.

"I thank Tony Snow and his bunch of mediocre musicians ... uh great musicians," Bush joked.