It feels like it's been quite some time since I last saw Mr. Ashwood-Smith's byline in the NYT. I am used to seeing double quad stacked 15-letter grids, which used to make me throw my hands in the air and give up.
Nowadays the staggered 13-letter answer stacks are all the rage, and it's easy to see why. Look how excellent that middle section is, with DIXIELANDJAZZ right above its near neighbor MOBILEALABAMA (with a great piece of trivia about its early days as the capital of French Louisiana), and below that DOUBLEDEALERS.
The staggering allows for very strong crossing answers as well, including my favorite answer of the puzzle today at 27D: Bungling (MALADROIT) - a great word, and a misleading clue, in that you might be tempted to try out a word ending in -ING, but get nowhere. I also liked JAREDLETO and BARRYGIBB's full names.
This is a particularly scrabble-y grid, with 3 Xs, 3 Js, and 2 Zs. I was amused by 15A: Laser alternative (DOTMATRIX) - not so much anymore, am I right?
I could complain about XII and DERE, two less than wonderful answers, but I'll leave you with 5D: Schooner filler (ALE).
Now that's a nice image.