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All Music Guide:
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, has been picked up and marketed and distributed in recent years by the Crescent City-based Basin Street Records. Basin Street has issued a steady stream of very well-recorded albums by Ruffins and his Barbecue Swingers throughout the 1990s.
He formed the Barbecue Swingers in 1992. Ruffins initially signed with Justice Records in Houston, TX, 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 he first heard Louis Armstrong when he was 19. 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, NJ. 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.
Kermit Ruffins (born December 19, 1964) is an American jazz trumpeter, singer and composer from New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. He has been influenced by Louis Armstrong and Louis Jordan. Ruffins often accompanies his songs with his own vocals, and he says that the highest note he can hit on trumpet is a high . 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, "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 Joseph S. Clark Senior High School in New Orleans' 6th Ward. 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 Cafe, 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 show at Vaughan's Bar in the Bywater neighborhood which is very popular with both locals and visitors. His 2007 Basin Street Records release, 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. He currently appears as himself in HBO's Treme as a recurring character.
Personal life 
Kermit is currently engaged to Lexine May with a wedding date in early Summer 2013. Kermit has a total of five kids, and this number will double once he and Ms. May are married.
He is also a good friend—and sometime local competitor of—Irvin Mayfield, a fellow New Orleans trumpeter.
Kermit Ruffins at Tipitina's, February 2006
Kermit Ruffins at Old Mint before set at Satchmo Summer Fest
Trumpeter Kermit Ruffins playing at Cafe Brasil in New Orleans