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

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