Last time I wrote a bit about my time in New Orleans
and I thought I would continue talking about it for another post.
On a Sunday afternoon, after walking around the French Quarter for the whole day, listening to some great music on the streets, having some great seafood, my girlfriend and I went to hear Kermit Ruffins in Kermit’s Treme Speakeasy pub. The first time I heard of Kermit was in the Treme series, where he played himself. I didn’t think much of him at the beginning but I listened to a few of his albums and immediately started loving his music and now, after seeing him live, I think he’s such a wonderful person. Kermit Ruffins is a New Orleans native who’s been playing music since he was a teenager. If anyone wants to get a quick feeling of New Orleans, you should listen an album of his.
He is an avid cook, he’s always having a good time, and through his music, he makes sure everyone else is happy too. In a sense, Kermit, like his great idol, Louis Armstrong, is just a simple guy trying to draw a smile on your face with his music. He’s warm, unpretentious and humble.
We went to many bars in New Orleans, but Kermit’s Treme Speakeasy felt different. I’ve never been in a bar where I felt so at home. It just felt so unbelievably cozy and relaxed.
We noticed right away that pretty much everyone was from the neighbourhood.
You could tell from the way people were talking to each other, the way they
were behaving and the casual clothes they were wearing. Everyone knew everyone
and they were all so friendly. When we came in all the tables were taken, but
right away a couple that offered to share their table with us. The waitress
came to get our order saying “what can I get you, baby?”. Everything and
everyone in that speakeasy made sure we relaxed and had a good time.
Kermit is famous for cooking at his own gigs and this was no different. He gives away his food during the breaks, but we couldn’t wait for that. We ordered one portion (the portions in New Orleans are huge) of red beans and rice with rabbit. We opted for rabbit, because we didn’t feel like some crazy stuff Kermit always grills like raccoon or possum. It was the best red beans and rice we’d had thus far and we had them almost every day in New Orleans, so that says something. Kermit takes his grilling very seriously. He jokes that he’s actually a master chef who does some music on the side. Well, when you try his food, you see that that’s not far from the truth. His food is just as delicious as his music and it tastes the same way - homey, cozy, friendly, happy, indulgent and just simply good.
Before the show, Kermit was standing by the entrance, saying hi to every guest and he knew most of them. The way he was greeting everybody and the way he had so much fun throughout the show, it just felt like he’s having one big house party every week.The band even had a big ICE box filled with beers by the bandstand.
His love and respect for Louis Armstrong was definitely visible in his performance and his choice of songs. The music was wonderful and even though he was joking all the time, the quality of the music never suffered. Kermit called a lot of friends on stage to perform with him which just added to the feeling that this wasn’t a show but a friendly get-together where he and his Barbecue Swingers played for some friends.
When you’re in New Orleans, even if it’s just for a few days, you come to realize that the city is all about delicious, hearty food, friendly people, wonderful music everywhere and having a good time (Laissez les bons temps rouler!). Well, that’s what I feel Kermit is also all about. His everyday life revolves around music, food and indulgence (here’s a good, but long, article about his everyday life) and in the end, you can see that his music, food and his bar embodies this New Orleans personality of his.