Pictures from Jazz Fest 2024

All photos by Braden Piper.

Weekend 1

Friday, April 26

Sonny Gullage and the Blues Groovers at the Blues Tent

Jeremy Davenport at the WWOZ Jazz Tent

Saturday, April 27

Jason Marsalis at WWOZ Jazz Tent

Dr. Michael White at Economy Hall Tent

Sunday, April 28

Louis Armstrong Camp 30th Anniversary Band feat. Donald Harrison Jr., Davell Crawford, and Jazz Camp Allstar Alumni at the WWOZ Jazz Tent

Rebirth Brass Band at Congo Square Stage

Weekend 2

Friday, May 3

Bonerama at Shell Gentilly Stage

Davell Crawford with Special Guests Steve Jordan and Jay Jay French at Shell Gentilly Stage

Saturday, May 4

Kermit Ruffins at Congo Square Stage

Jon Cleary at Festival Stage

A Tribute to Johnny Dodds featuring Dr. Michael White, Washboard Chaz, and Jade Santrell

Sunday, May 5

Lena Prima and the TLP Band at Lagniappe Stage

Kermit Ruffins Tribute to Louis Armstrong at Economy Hall Tent

Headhunters in New Orleans on te%

Kermit Ruffins featured on CBS Mornings

From CBS News:

Kermit Ruffins has performed on some of the world’s biggest stages. With his trumpet in hand, the 59-year-old has taken jazz to the next note ever since his childhood days.

“My uncle Percy Williams, he’s a trumpet player, and I can remember being 8, 9, 10-years-old, and he would come to the house almost every weekend and just put the trumpet in my hand and I look at that thing, man, when he opened that case, that shine, that smell of that brass, it was so freaking exciting.”

By high school, Ruffins and some classmates founded Rebirth Brass Band, which to their surprise evolved into a world-renowned group. New Orleans native Ruffins is considered music royalty. 

After over a decade of touring around the world, Ruffins’ roots called him back home in the early 90s. That’s when he formed his next group, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers. 

“It’s dancing music,” he said of the band’s sound. “And we’re doing it in a birthplace of jazz where jazz has, was invented, walking distance from where we’re sitting.”

But his success in music could not shield his family from gun violence.

Two years ago, Ruffins’ pregnant girlfriend, Harmonese Pleasant, was shot by a stray bullet outside of their home. It prompted an emergency delivery and left their daughter, Blossom, with a spinal cord injury. Doctors are unsure if she’ll ever be able to walk.

“It’s just unbelievable, you know. It’s, it’s like, it’s not really happening. Cause now my baby probably won’t walk,” Ruffins said. “And then Harmonese has this big scar, most beautiful girl in the world. So, it’s a lot when I look at Blossom and knowing what’s gonna happen as far as going to school and everything she’s gonna go through.”

Louisiana ranked second for gun-related deaths in 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Nationwide, homicide rates and violent crime overall decreased in 2023, according to data released by the FBI.

But this past weekend, one person was killed and 11 were wounded in New Orleans after a shooting in front of a nightclub after a festival, according to the Gun Violence Archive. 

Meanwhile, Ruffins and Pleasant hope their story brings more awareness to gun violence.

“Because it’s a — it’s a real thing. It’s a big thing,” Pleasant said.  “And it affects people in a real major way.”

“I could have been doing two funerals,” Ruffins added.

David Begnaud recently reported on CBS Mornings about Tulane University students who are building specially designed wheelchairs for children with disabilities. The students delivered one to Ruffins’ daughter to help her get around more comfortably.

With a new perspective on life, Ruffins’ music now has a different tune, one a bit more focused on hope and peace in the community.

For Ruffins, there’s no role he cherishes more than being a father. Through everything his family has been through, he is grateful for the outpouring of love and support they have received.

“They love me to death and everybody love Blossom,” Ruffins said. “She’s the freaking joy, and I look in her eyes, she is excited about life.”