Ruffins plays with the ‘spirit of Louie’

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)- He's one of our busiest and most visible artists, and because of his commitment to authentic New Orleans music, many folks call Kermit Ruffins today's version of Louis Armstrong.

Ruffins welcomes the comparison with caution.

"I studied him so hard," Ruffins says. "I mean I don't mind it at all.  I love it when people say, 'Man you sound like Louie,' ya know.  I let them know there's no way in the world I can play like Louie, but I have the spirit of Louis."

Right out of Clark Sr. High, Ruffins burst on the scene as one of the early members of the ReBirth Brass Band.  He's also parlayed his music career into the business of running establishments.

For Ruffins, it's all a part of who he is.

"I just love bars and I always wanted a bar, so I tried one on St. Phillip, I tried the restaurant, and I finally got a good spot here at Ernie K-Doe's Mother-in-Law Lounge.  I saw it empty about 4 years ago, and I jumped on it right away," he says.

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These days, Ruffins splits his time between New Orleans and Houston, where he performs at the club he has there as well.  He says when you come to hear Kermit Ruffins and the Bar-B-Que Swingers, expect to be entertained.

"We do a little bit of everything, man. We start off like Louis Armstrong started off his concerts with 'When It's Sleepytime Down South', and at the end of the show I turn into Tupac or somebody.  I start rappin'," he says with a laugh.

Kermit's latest CD is #imsoneworleans, and he also appears on the Jungle Book soundtrack singing The Bare Necessities with Bill Murray.

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