Whether he’s barbecuing outside his bar, sitting in with Jon Batiste and Stay Human on The Late Show, performing in films and TV series or entertaining crowds at music halls around the worldKermit Ruffins keeps busy — all while personifying the laid-back nature of New Orleans.

Heavily influenced by Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway, the singer and trumpet player started out in the streets of the French Quarter in the early ’80s. In high school, he co-founded the Rebirth Brass Band, a group that helped revolutionize and rejuvenate the second-line culture of New Orleans. After 10 years, he amicably split with the band and went solo — a risky move at a time when there weren’t many young musicians playing traditional jazz.

Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers have since been widely embraced as a New Orleans institution with a lasting influence on the city’s musical direction.

Ruffins joined us in the Gumbo Kitchen for a conversation about life in New Orleans.