Kermit Ruffins

Kermit Ruffins

Kermit Ruffins (born December 19, 1964) is a jazz trumpeter, singer and composer from New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. He has been heavily influenced by Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordan and Eddy Jefferson. Ruffins accompanies a large portion of his songs with his own vocals, and he says that the highest note he can hit on trumpet is a fortissimo C note. Most of his bands perform New Orleans jazz standards, though he also composes many of his own pieces. Jon Pareles of the New York Times wrote of Ruffins in a July 16, 2001 article, stating that "Mr. Ruffins is an unabashed entertainer who plays trumpet with a bright, silvery tone, sings with off-the-cuff charm and never gets too abstruse in his material".

Early life

Kermit started playing trumpet in 8th grade at Lawless Junior High School in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans. He attended Clark High School in New Orleans. In high school, he played a little bit of classical music at the behest of a strict band teacher. Ruffins developed an appreciation for cooking through his grandmother, observing her movements in the kitchen growing up.


Rebirth Brass Band

He co-founded the Rebirth Brass Band in 1983 while attending Clark High School, also in the Tremé neighborhood. Ruffins made his first recordings with the Rebirth in 1984. The group was inspired by another New Orleans brass band called The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, a band of slightly older musicians credited with bringing influences of funk and contemporary bebop into New Orleans style brass bands. Before they achieved the popularity allowing them to play regularly in local music venues, the Rebirth often busked around the French Quarter for tips. They soon became a houseband at the Glass House, previously the Dirty Dozen's home venue. The Rebirth once had a gig in New York City at Lone Star Café, but were hassled by police for having no permit when they began marching outdoors as they always did in New Orleans.

Barbecue Swingers

Ruffins founded the Barbecue Swingers in 1992, a traditional jazz quintet. Kermit is famous for cooking barbecue at his shows. Every Thursday since the early 1990s, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers have played a weekly show at Vaughan's Bar in the Bywater neighborhood which is very popular with both locals and visitors. His 2007 album Live at Vaughan's was recorded during one of his performances at the establishment.

He has also performed at hundreds of funerals during his career in The Crescent City. In 2003 the band received a nomination at the Big Easy Entertainment Awards, which recognizes local talents.


Personal life

On April 14, 2007, he married his fiancée Karen "Juicy" James onstage during his performance at the New Orleans French Quarter Festival. This was the couples' second vow exchange of the day as they had earlier been married in a Catholic ceremony at St Peter Claver Church. A reception was held at The Parish at The House of Blues. The couple had their first daughter together a year earlier, aptly named Kaylin Orleans Ruffins. Ruffins also has children from a previous marriage.

Ruffins has said he loves drinking Bud Light beer and smoking cannabis, stating that Amsterdam is his second favorite place to perform outside of New Orleans due to its many legal coffee shops that sell premium grade cannabis and hashish. He is also a good friend—and sometime local competitor of—Irvin Mayfield, a fellow New Orleans trumpeter.



Year Album Notes Label
1993 "World On A String" debut album Justice Records
1994 "The Big Butter and Egg Man" - Justice Records
1996 "Hold On Tight" - Justice Records
1998 "The Barbecue Swingers Live" - Basin Street Records
1999 "Swing This" - Basin Street Records
2001 "1533 St. Philip Street" - Basin Street Records
2002 "Big Easy" - Basin Street Records
2005 "Throwback" - Basin Street Records
2007 "Live at Vaughan's" - Basin Street Records
2005 "Throwback" - Basin Street Records
1993 "World On A String" - Basin Street Records
2005 "Throwback" - Basin Street Records
2007 "Live at Vaughan's" - Basin Street Records



  • 2003 - Offbeat's Best of The Beat Awards in Best Traditional Jazz Band or Performer for Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers


External links

See also

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