Trumpet player Kermit Ruffins is an icon of New Orleans jazz. His sensational Rebirth Brass Band is a jazz/funk musical extravaganza that must be experienced live for full effect. Ruffins is also the founder of the jazz quintet Barbecue Swingers and is famous for firing up his grill at their shows in NOLA. In celebration of the July 4 tradition of grilling out, Putumayo World Music Blog interviewed Ruffins about his passion for the BBQ pit. Ruffins is featured on Putumayo's New Orleans compilation and also Putumayo Kids' New Orleans Playground CD, which I heartily recommend. From Putumayo (photo by dsb nola):
Where did the name "Barbecue Swingers" come from?
Kermit Ruffins: From tailgating. I started tailgating at Vaughn's during break-time so the guys could have something to eat. So one morning I woke up and said "Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Kings," but by the middle of the evening I had changed it to "Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers." I was having so much fun barbecuing during the show that it just hit me: "Barbecue Swingers".
So you originally were barbecuing to have some hot food at the shows, then the idea just caught on?
Kermit Ruffins: Yep, the tailgating started [it] all. I would cook hot sausage for the guys during break time, and whatever was left over, we would give it to the fans. Then I bought a big grill and started cooking for everyone, still up [to] today!
BK: Do you have any recipes or tips you would like to share with us?
Kermit Ruffins: I like to use a pan. I cook a lot of things in the pan – shrimp, fish, chicken, anything. Just a little olive oil, Tony Chanceries', granulated garlic, thyme, and a little beer. Wrap it tight for an hour and a half; it's like cooking in the oven. After, if you want, you can put them on the grill so they get that pecan wood taste.