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Kermit Ruffins

New Orleans-based trumpeter, bandleader, singer, and songwriter Kermit Ruffins is an ever-inventive musician who projects a warmth from the stage. He's got charisma, so as a consequence, he and his bandmates in the Barbecue Swingers are not in danger of overexposing themselves in their native Crescent City. Ruffins, born in 1964 in New Orleans, reminds many people of a sort of modern-day Louis Armstrong, though he's far from becoming the international ambassador of goodwill that Armstrong eventually became. Fortunately for fans of contemporary New Orleans music and the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Ruffins, a mainstay of both arenas, was picked up and marketed and distributed by the Crescent City-based Basin Street Records, which has issued a steady stream of very well-recorded albums by Ruffins and his Barbecue Swingers into the 21st century. He formed the Barbecue Swingers in 1992. Ruffins initially signed with Justice Records in Houston, Texas, in the mid-'90s, releasing Hold on Tight for that label in 1995. His releases for Basin Street Records include Big Easy in 2002, 1533 St. Philip Street in 2001, Swing This! in 1999, and Barbecue Swingers Live in 1997. Interestingly, Ruffins was not raised in a jazz- or blues-centric environment. Growing up, he listened to popular black music on the radio, groups like the Commodores, Al Green, and all the groups that received airplay on black radio stations in the South in the 1970s. He began playing trumpet as a young teenager, but didn't discover the possibilities of jazz and blues until, at the age of 19, he first heard Louis Armstrong. For tips with a school buddy in Jackson Square, a touristy area of New Orleans close to the Mississippi River, he began playing songs by Armstrong and other classic jazz figures associated with New Orleans. With several of his fellow students from high school, Ruffins started the Rebirth Brass Band. That band led to Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers. While Ruffins projects a certain warmth on-stage in a small club in New Orleans, and freely jokes with his bandmates and his audience through the course of a show, his studio outings offer glimpses into his abilities as a bandleader and songwriter. Ruffins writes about what he knows. He'll pick up a phrase he overhears in New Orleans and turn that into a memorable song. One example of this is his song "When I Die, You Better Second Line," a phrase he'd heard the old men at Joe's Cozy Corner repeat numerous times through the years. Ruffins is famous at home in New Orleans for his frequent barbecue bashes at the bars he and his band perform in. Weather permitting, he'll set up his grill on the sidewalk in front of a club and serve bar staff, bandmembers, and patrons some barbecued chicken or beef during the breaks between his usual three sets. Hence the name Barbecue Swingers. As of yet, Ruffins hasn't figured out a way to take this aspect of his show on the road. Ruffins had his own club for a short time in New Orleans, but was forced to close it after tourism fell off sharply after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S. In recent years, Ruffins and his band have been able to take their act out on the road on summer weekends, playing at festivals in Florida, California, Colorado, New York City, and Cape May, New Jersey. At these events, they've been able to sell more compact discs than they would at home in New Orleans. Live shows from Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers are what it's all about. Until he puts his trumpet to his mouth, he said, he has no idea what he'll play on any given night. But through years of performing in New Orleans and other places, he's learned to be a careful reader of his audience. He'll work with his band to deliver the kind of music he figures a given audience is in the mood for. In truth, Ruffins became kind of a goodwill ambassador for post-Katrina New Orleans, bridging traditional Crescent City jazz with a fresh, contemporary feel in albums like 2013's We Partyin' Traditional Style, and doing it all with both reverence and joy. ~ Richard Skelly & Steve Leggett
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Stations Featuring
Kermit Ruffins

    New Orleans Sounds

    New Orleans Sounds
    7 songs

Albums by
Kermit Ruffins

Top Songs by
Kermit Ruffins

  1.   Song
  2.   Good Morning New Orleans
  3.   Didn't He Ramble
  4.   I Got a Tremé Woman
  5.   Up in tha Hood by Rebirth Brass Band
  6.   La Vie en Rose
  7.   New Orleans (My Home Town)
  8.   If I Only Had a Brain
  9.   Hey Naa
  10.   Ain't That Good News
  11.   Happy Talk
  12.   Panama
  13.   Tremé Mardi Gras
  14.   I Ate Up the Apple Tre
  15.   Holy Cow
  16.   O-o-h Child
  17.   Hide the Reefer
  18.   One Life
  19.   Ain't Misbehavin'
  20.   This Christmas
  21.   Little Drummer Boy
  22.   Just a Closer Walk with Thee by Rebirth Brass Band
  23.   Struttin' With Some Barbecue
  24.   Silent Night
  25.   When the Saints Go Marching In
  26.   I'll Drink Ta Dat
  27.   Mardi Gras Day
  28.   Besame Mucho
  29.   What Will Santa Say When He Finds Everybody Swingin'
  30.   Leshianne
  31.   Shine
  32.   O Christmas Tree
  33.   For the Love of You
  34.   What Is New Orleans, Pt. 2 by Rebirth Brass Band
  35.   Drop Me off in New Orleans
  36.   If You're a Viper
  37.   Out of Left Field
  38.   Careless Love
  39.   Santa Clause Is Coming to Town
  40.   Chinatown, My Chinatown
  41.   Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
  42.   Honey Chile
  43.   Jingle Bells
  44.   Rebirth Medley: My Song/Pie, Pt. 2/Mexican Special by Rebirth Brass Band
  45.   The Big Butter and Egg Man
  46.   Happy Birthday
  47.   Song for My Father
  48.   Here to Stay by Rebirth Brass Band
  49.   Make Way for the Rebirth by Rebirth Brass Band
  50.   Baby Won't You Please Come Home
  51.   Treme Seconde Line (Blow Da Whistle)
  52.   Crazy Cool Christmas
  53.   Jeepers Creepers
  54.   High Hopes
  55.   Li'l Liza Jane
  56.   It's Later Than You Think by Rebirth Brass Band
  57.   Winter Wonderland
  58.   Hello Good Evening
  59.   A Saints Christmas
  60.   Marie
  61.   Georgia on My Mind
  62.   High Heel Sneakers
  63.   Happy Weekday Blues by Rebirth Brass Band
  64.   Bye and Bye
  65.   West Indies Jazz Dance
  66.   I've Got the World on a String
  67.   When My Dreamboat Comes Home
  68.   Rosetta
  69.   All of Me
  70.   More Today Than Yesterday
  71.   Monday Night in New Orleans
  72.   Mr. Big Stuff
  73.   Over the Waves
  74.   I Got a Woman by Rebirth Brass Band
  75.   Exactly Like You
  76.   Kermit's Second Line
  77.   The Glory of Love
  78.   Girl of My Dreams
  79.   I Can See Clearly Now featuring Bonerama
  80.   Silver Bells
  81.   I Got Mine
  82.   When It's Sleepy Time Down South
  83.   I Guess I'll Get the Papers and Go Home
  84.   Do the Fat Tuesday
  85.   Baby It's Cold Outside
  86.   Sugar
  87.   The Undertaker Man

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