$10.00 – $40.00
Kermit & The Rebirth reunite for this epic party album
Now available to order on Vinyl! 2018 vinyl reissue features remastered audio specifically for vinyl, and a complete artwork redesign. All vinyl orders from Basin Street Records include digital download of the full album. 100 signed (by Kermit Ruffins) and numbered copies available exclusively from the BSR web store.
“New Orleans native Kermit Ruffins was aptly born on the birthday of one of that city’s most deservedly heralded masters of music, Professor Longhair. The 40-year-old trumpet player came blasting out of high school with the Rebirth Brass Band. Formed with tuba player Philip Frazier, the ensemble stormed across 10 years, several continents, and 7 albums before disbanding in 1992. Here reconvened, they’ve lost none of their exuberant flair and verve. The seven originals by Ruffins are mixed with numbers by the city’s current elder statesman, Mac Rebennack, as well as Ray Charles, Mildred Hill’s perennial “Happy Birthday,” and more. Unobtrusively produced, the set bristles with the immediacy of a true celebration.” —David Greenberger
“The reunion of the RBB with its original trumpet man-who left to get off the road and explore a solo career-explodes with the enthusiasm of a backyard barbecue, with everyone digging into the funk and singing along. Many of the songs are built on blues riffs or vamps, and when these guys start blowing it’s hard to sit passively during a hard-hitting groove like “Make Way for the Rebirth” or Dr. John’s “Mardi Gras Day.” ” – Mike Shanley, JazzTimes
Kermit Ruffins – Trumpet, Vocals
Philip Frazier – Tuba
Keith Frazier – Bass Drum
Derrick Tabb – Snare Drum
Derek Shezbie – Trumpet
Glen Andrews – Trumpet
Stafford Agee – Trombone
Corey Henry – Trombone
Vincent Broussard – Tenor Sax
Troy Andrews – Trombone Solo on “ Mardi Gras Day”
Mary Griffin – Vocals on “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” and “Up In Tha Hood”
David Torkanowsky – Wurlitzer on “Up In Tha Hood”
Christina Ruffins, Neshia Ruffins, Jimmy Slack, III and A’Jon Jones – Vocals on “Happy Weekday Blues” and “Happy Birthday”
Ajay- Mallory – Vocals, Percussion
Alfred Weston – Vocals
Reed Watson – Cowbell
Percy Williams – Percussion
Keng – Turntables
1) Make Way For The Rebirth (6:34)
2) Mr. Big Stuff (3:43)
3) Here to Stay (4:12)
4) Mardi Gras Day
5) It’s Later Than You Think (5:33)
6) Happy Weekday Blues (3:12)
7) I Got A Woman (6:11)
8) What is New Orleans Part 2 (6:26)
9) Just a Closer Walk With Thee (5:18)
10) Happy Birthday (2:24)
11) Rebirth Medley: My Song, Pie Pt. 2, Mexican Special (7:01)
12) Up in tha Hood (5:16)
Produced by Tracey Freeman
Executive Producer: Mark Samuels
Associate Executive Producer: Will Samuels
Recorded and Mixed by Steve Reynolds
Assistant Engineer at Piety Street: Drew Vonderhaar
Mastered by Vlado Meller at Sony Music Studios/ NYC
Art Direction by Hal Braden and Tom Thompson
Graphic Design by Hal Braden
Prepress by Diana Thornton
Photography by Donn Young
Narrative by Kermit Ruffins
I wanna tell you a li’l story about New Orleans, y’all . . .
When I was a young kid, my dad was the manager of a band called M.G. Funk. My Uncle Percy, who played the trumpet in the band, was always over at the house and always let me blow on his trumpet. Of course I didn’t know what I was doing other than making noise but it didn’t seem to bother nobody.
Eventually Uncle Percy gave me my own mouthpiece and I would take that mouthpiece everywhere I went, blowing on it all throughout the neighborhood. I did this for about a year and all the while me and my brother kept after my mom and dad for trumpets. We wanted to play the trumpet so bad. We bugged our parents for a long time. I was in the eighth grade, and one day after school, right there lying on the sofa was two new trumpets. We went crazy!
The next day when we went to school we joined the marching band. It was Lawless in the lower 9th Ward. I found myself sitting in last chair which meant I wasn’t very good. It was almost at the end of the school year and I was last chair but I was anything but discouraged. I knew what I wanted to do.
That summer I went to Summer Band Camp at Lawless. All I did that summer was play trumpet! When school started for the next year, I was sitting in first chair.
I put together a little band at Lawless on the side. It was me and some cats from the marching band. They let us play at basketball games, you know, during time out or halftime and what have you. We sure had some good times! I wouldn’t say we were a “brass band” back then. It was sort of just a band to have fun.
After Lawless, I went to Clark Senior High School and joined the school band. After my audition, I took first chair. This is where I met Phil Frazier. We almost went a whole school year knowing of each other but not really hanging out or anything. It wasn’t until around graduation time for the seniors that we actually met.
See, they gave me the trumpet solo to play at the graduation and Phil, who was really a trombone player at the time, had to play tuba at the ceremony. Something happened with the tuba player and we needed a strong tuba player for that occasion and Phil got recruited. I never will forget it. We were playing a tune called “I Can’t Get Over You” and I walked up to Phil and said, “Hey man, give me A LOT of bass!” That was really the first time I talked to Phil.
After we performed, me and Phil really hit it off. We decided to meet at his house early in the summer to form a new band. Sure enough, we got some guys together and just practiced and practiced, all summer long.
After school started up the next fall, a lady with the Parent Teacher Association asked us to play for a party at a hotel in town. We had a few tunes so we played the party and it was a lot of fun until the end of the party because they threw us out. Well, I don’t mean they tossed us out on our butts or anything; it was just that they were serving booze and we were all underage!
We didn’t have a car so after the gig, we decided to take a short cut home which would be through the French Quarter and on Bourbon Street. We were all carrying our instruments and some guy said, “Hey play us a number!”
Well, there we were-we struck up some tunes and people started tipping us. People were digging it and they were giving us cash money for hanging out playing music! They kept tipping and we was trippin! What I mean is, it all happened quite by accident.
Man, we took that money and went straight to Popeye’s before we went got us some beer. We couldn’t believe our luck. I mean, it must have been almost eighty bucks! Right then and there we decided we’d head right back to the French Quarter the next day and almost everyday.
“Hey we gonna do this again.” And we did.
It wasn’t long before we printed up business cards. The name of the group was, well, the name was “The Group.” We were playing our butts off for tips and making what we thought was big money at the time.
One day, we were playing a party in one of the projects for an organization called “Rebirth.” It was a guy named Bobby Leonard who was trying to help out the kids and all. He decided he wanted to be our manager and we all said “Why not?”
You have to do one thing, he said. “I want y’all to change your name to Rebirth.” The cat never really became our manager, but that is how we got the name Rebirth Brass Band.
Our senior year at Clark was full of music and full of fun. I’d have to write a book to tell you all of the stories! We all knew what we wanted to do, and that was play music!
What was real important was when Phil’s mom decided to move right into the heart of the Tremé
Neighborhood. Once we started hanging out in the Tremé we started to feel like young professional musicians. Tremé was where all the older cats hung out. If you were a jazz or blues musician in New Orleans, you hungout in the Tremé.
The Tremé was full of bars, little corner hangouts with live music everywhere. Everybody was in the neighborhood, especially the brass band musicians. I’m talking about Uncle Lionel, Tuba Fats and Benny Jones, cats like that. I’m talking about the Olympia Brass Band, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and all those old brass bands. At that time, there weren’t any younger generation brass bands. We were the first one.
After we came on the scene there were a lot of other young brass bands. The Young Olympia and the Lil Rascals Brass Band were just two of the many young brass bands that sort of followed in the footsteps of the Rebirth.
Before we had a real manager, I sorta kept track of the business cards and phone numbers. One day I went down to the Grease Lounge to see if we could play there on Monday nights. That gig lasted a long time. We played birthday parties, second line parades and just about any kind of neighborhood gig you could play.
Eventually we got booked at the Jazzfest. Not on a stage, mind you, but just to march around the fairgrounds. Phil actually left the band for a while so he could go off to college. He went to Grambling to be in that world-famous band. We had another cat sit in on tuba during that time, but it was always Phil’s spot if he wanted to come back. And sure enough, after a year or so at Grambling, he did come back. Phil was the best tuba player on the scene, that’s all there is to it.
We hooked up with Jerry Brock to do our first record. Jerry was running WWOZ on top of Tipitina’s at the time. We did our first recording on Arhoolie Records. We did it live on stage at Grease Lounge and it was called “Here to Stay” which was also the name of the first tune I ever wrote.
We hooked up with a manager known as “Ice Cube Slim.” Slim booked us on tours all over the world, all over Europe and everything. We played all of the big festivals and stayed in the finest hotels. We had the time of our lives.
Eventually Slim and the band went separate ways and our new manager was Allison Miner. Allison really did a lot for us business-wise. It was Allison who made sure our paperwork was taken care of as far as publishing and stuff.
It must have seemed strange for the Rebirth to have a lady manager! After all, we were some fun-loving wild cats back in the day and I know we gave Allison a hard time every now and then. But she was great to us, God bless her soul.
Louis Armstrong has been a big influence on me, my music and my career. A lot of folks assume that I was an admirer of Louis Armstrong from the very beginning but the truth is that when I was young and first starting out, I had no idea who Louis Armstrong even was! Back in those days, the influence was more funk and R&B than jazz for me. I’m talking about the late ’70’s and early ’80’s!
I actually discovered Louis Armstrong on a juke box. Somebody played one of his tunes and I was like “Who in the hell is that?” I never will forget hearing his raspy voice and all those high trumpet notes that day. It wasn’t long that I was soaking up every Louis Armstrong record or video that I could find. I fell in love with everything he did.
The Rebirth started playing some of this swing stuff, in our own style. We all would get together and watch old black and while Armstrong videos. Something was happening inside of me, that’s for sure. Something was changing. I wanted to sing.
I loved the whole scene but after catching the Armstrong bug really bad, I wanted to sing and the brass band thing wasn’t exactly the best way to start belting out vocal standards. To scratch my new itch, I formed a combo on the side. Just like in the early days of the Rebirth, I took my new combo out to the French Quarter to play for tips. We actually had a standup piano on wheels and we’d roll it all the way to the Quarter every time we went to play!
My girl’s mom had a neighborhood bar named Lil People’s Place and me and my new combo started playing there on a regular basis. Allison Miner gave us a spot on the stage she ran at Jazzfest and I had no idea how much that one gig would change my life.
It just so happened that a cat from a record company in Houston saw my combo gig at the Jazzfest. His name was David Thompson and after the set he came over to me and gave me
his business card. If you wanna make a record, he said, give us a call. I thought it was cool but you know, you hear a lot of stuff from a lot of people like that. It wasn’t until I got a phone call from his boss, Randall Jamall who owned Justice Records, that I knew this was serious stuff.
Sure enough, Justice Records signed me and another one of my dreams came true. Randall produced the type of record I really wanted to make with all of the great, great cats in the city like Danny Barker, Ellis Marsalis, Walter Payton and others. Finally, I was swinging out and singing those songs I fell in love with. I really did have the world on a string.
It was perfect timing too. I was married by then and had two baby daughters. I was totally burnt out on the road. The Rebirth was rolling hard, touring like crazy and I just couldn’t do it anymore. The band was about to leave for a month long tour of Africa when I broke the news to Phil. As much as it was a dream to go to Africa, I told him it was time for me to get off the road and spend some time with my new family and all. He said he saw it coming and there were no hard feelings at all.
A lot of people have tried to stir shit by saying me and Phil broke up on bad terms and what have you, but it never happened that way. Me and Phil were tight then and we remained tight and are today. I even told him that very day, “Now Phil you know they are gonna talk shit about us saying we’re mad with each other.” Phil said “Yeah I know, but we know the truth.”
It is hard to believe but over twelve or thirteen years have passed since that day I told Phil I wasn’t going to Africa. And the Rebirth hasn’t skipped a beat. Those cats are bigger than ever.
In those early days of my new direction, I joined up with my present manager Tom Thompson. I did three records on Justice and after I un-retired from the road, I’ve been all over the world with my quintet, the Barbecue Swingers.
After the Justice thing was done, me and Tom joined forces with Mark Samuels. Mark and Tom put together Basin Street Records and my live record at Tipitina’s is the very first one on the label.
I tell you what. Every new year is better than the year before. In God’s perfect timing, all my dreams come true.
Mark has built Basin Street into one of the best labels around, period. This is my fifth record with Basin Street and my great friend Tracey Freeman has produced four of them.
Yeah it’s hard to believe how fast time passes. I always knew in the back of my mind that I’d do another project with Phil and the Rebirth and last fall I decided that the time was now.
It was wonderful fun to record this new record. When Phil and the guys came to the studio with me, it seemed like we were never apart. It was so natural and it was a party for sure. I think when you listen to this record you will hear the party in the music.
You want to hear more stories? Well, I guess I’m really gonna have to write that book!
Just grab your partner and dance for your life! All aboard!
– Kermit Ruffins
Yo Yo Yo
This is Kermit Ruffins…
First of all, many thanks to God for this blessed life in New Orleans…
I would like to give thanks to the following special people:
My girlfriend Karen “Juicey” James for her love and understanding… My kids, Tawanna, Kermit, Christina, and Neshia Ruffins. My nieces and nephews, Milan and Zavier Arriola, Bryce and Paige Ruffins, and Jade A. Brown and Jimmie Slack, III. My Father and Mother, Lloyd and Esther Ruffins. My stepmother, Rose Ruffins. My Auntie Carmen Ruffins and Marian and Carolyn. My uncle Percy Williams. My brothers Lloyd and Ashawn Ruffins. My sister Imani Nia Ruffins-Arriola. And to Ms. Barbara Frazier for all her years of support.
To Tom Thompson, my manager of eleven great years, for all his dedication, hard work and support.
To Mark Samuels for giving me the opportunity of recording tunes of my desire, such as second line, jazz, funk and rap.
To Tracey Freeman, my producer and to Steve Reynolds of Ultrasonic for letting us have a party while recording.
To Phil, the Rebirth, and all the cats who played on this record.
To everyone at Basin Street Records for all of the great work,
And thanks to all the people up in da “hood”!
© ℗ 2005 Basin Street Records
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