Kermit Ruffins may not be a household name to Houstonians, but he may be the most accomplished New Orleans jazz musician of his generation and he is definitely Crescent City to the core. (He's not a bad cook, either...he named his backing band the Barbecue Swingers for a reason.) Born on the same day as New Orleans piano icon Professor Longhair, Ruffins has long amazed newcomers for his uncanny similarities to that city's favorite son Louis Armstrong — in his saucy trumpet licks, raspy vocals and ebullient personality alike — and co-founded the Rebirth Brass Band, which updated the traditional second-line parade sound with generous doses of funk and bebop. Ruffins "plays the music of his city, but more than that, reminds us that true entertainers are rare creatures that New Orleans manufactures time and again," wrote The Wire creator David Simon for the liner notes to Ruffins's 2008 album Livin' a Treme Life; not long after, Simon cast Ruffins as himself (who else?) in his post-Katrina HBO drama Treme. Although Ruffins won't be cooking Friday night — in the kitchen, anyway — there will be a free Cajun buffet with admission.
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