Kermit Ruffins & The BBQ Swingers
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. He formed the Barbecue Swingers in 1992. 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. With several of his fellow students from high school, Ruffins started the Rebirth Brass Band. That band led to Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers.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! 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!