Irrepressible trumpeter and singer Kermit Ruffins — one of New Orleans's most distinctive characters in a city full of them — is the embodiment of the joyful, bubbling spirit that inspired NOLA's Big Easy nickname. Often decked out in a snappy fedora and snazzy suit, Ruffins commands the stage with panache and élan, carrying it over to his recurring character (himself) on HBO's Tremé, set on his home turf. Ruffins got his start as a teenage co-founder of the Rebirth Brass Band. By the time he went solo, Ruffins had immersed himself in traditional New Orleans jazz and emulated the character of one of his idols, Louis Armstrong. With his raspy voice, bright trumpet sound, and charismatic personality, Kermit could be Louis reincarnated, and, leading a crackling band of Crescent City vets, he includes a sparkling version of the Satchmo signature tune "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" on his new We Partyin' Traditional Style! And it is a uniquely New Orleans party, dating from the first half of the 20th century. Ruffins puts his ebullient spin on vintage jazz and pop standards like "Jeepers Creepers" and "All of Me," each one alive with infectious vitality. There's one Kermit original, "Tremé Second Line," while things wrap up with a rousing take on "When the Saints Go Marching In." What would make this perfect would be for the Dakota to figure out a way for Kermit to fire up a barbecue outside between sets, as he does in New Orleans, the inspiration for his band's name.
Mondays, Sundays, 7 & 9 p.m. Starts: July 28. Continues through July 29, 2013