Becoming a local music legend isn’t easy anywhere. But in New Orleans, it’s a serious feat. Yet Kermit Ruffins, at the tender age of 46, is well on his way.
Ruffins is known for being one of the founders of the celebrated Rebirth Brass Band and lately for his repeat appearances on the hit HBO show "Treme." But the real source of his celebrity is his rollicking weekly Thursday residency at Vaughn’s, a neighborhood joint in the Bywater neighborhood, where he’s been blowing his horn and slow-cooking barbecue every week since the '90s.
This song, off the album Happy Talk, is a classic low-down New Orleans jazz track full of squeaky clarinets and bouncy snares. There are no musical clues here as to why he named it “Panama,” but photographic evidence suggests the country is the source of his preferred species of hat.