Trumpeter Kermit Ruffins embodies the exuberant spirit of Louis Armstrong and the New Orleans entertainment culture. He co-founded the Rebirth Brass Band and is perhaps best known for performing with his longtime group, The Barbecue Swingers.
Born in 1964, Ruffins took up the trumpet in junior high school in New Orleans’ gritty Ninth Ward. In 1983, he was among the co-founders of the Rebirth Brass Band, modeled after the seminal Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The Rebirth gained notoriety with regular gigs at the legendary club, The Glass House, and were soon playing around the nation and the globe.
Ruffins’ infectious personality and Armstrong-inspired virtuosity almost mandated that he break out with his own band, and he did so in 1992 with the Barbecue Swingers, which has delighted audiences for over twenty-five years. He combines his love of music with a passion for good barbecue, has been known to cook barbecue for the whole crowd during his set, and is loved almost as much as a pit master as a master of the trumpet.
Ruffins has had several forays into club ownership, with his now-defunct Kermit’s Treme Speakeasy and Ernie K-Doe’s Mother-in-Law Lounge, which he took over after that iconic singer passed away. He gigs regularly at his own club and other venues around New Orleans, tours regularly, and is often called upon to perform at funerals, weddings, and other ceremonies.
Ruffins has recorded 17 albums, mostly on the New Orleans-based Basin Street label. He has collected an armload of awards over the course of his career, and appeared as himself in several episodes of HBO’s “Treme.”