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Kermit Ruffins' Treme Speakeasy Opens with Trumpets, Racoons and 'Adult Daycare'

By Shay Sokol

Today, Kermit Ruffins rose with the sun to cook raccoons. The wild fare will be served at his 3-week-old Treme Speakeasy on Basin St. tonight while he performs one hot set from 6:00-7:30pm. The Speakeasy is quickly becoming a musician’s hangout, and the home of a new Social Aid and Pleasure Club called “The Hands,” a daycare for grownups created by Lois Andrews and her friends.


“Trombone Shorty’s mom [Andrews] and all her friends come almost every Tuesday,” Ruffins said while sipping a Bud Light and paying bills at his bar. “They bring a gang of people at noon, and started a club called ‘The Hands.’ They bring the kids to school then the Hands go out and play. Then they pick up their kids, put them to bed, then come back out. Last week, they danced their butts off from noon til 6pm. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I’m going to get my mom involved next Tuesday. It’s going to be ridiculous. She can party just as hard a Trombone Shorty’s mom.”


The red-walled, dim-lit bar has five small tables with candles, a bar with three high chairs, and a small stage by the entrance painted like a piano. Humble. The food, mainly cooked by Ruffins himself, is served daily. Tonight’s menu includes red beans and rice, stuffed bell pepper, hot sausage, cabbage, potato salad, blue cheese salad and, of course, raccoon.


“I get here nice and early in the morning, around 7:30 and start throwing down and be finished by 11. Then I sit around drinking, and have other people serve me,” Ruffins said smiling as he asked the bartender for another Bud Light.


Ruffins learned how to cook as a kid, when he’d go crabbing in the Lower 9th Ward every other Saturday with his cousin. “We’d catch a bunch of crab, sell them to the neighbors, take all the rest home and cook it. That’s how it all started. And family backyard barbeques, fishing trips.”


Witnessing the action at the Speakeasy, NoDef inquired whether the demands of a new venue would affect Ruffins' notoriously rigorous schedule of local gigs.


“No not really,” he said. “I’m going to be doing exactly what I been doing. Playing Bullets, playing Vaughn’s. Playing Blue Nile, Rock N Bowl. But it’s so easy for me to come in the morning because I’m an early bird anyway.”


For now only Ruffins will be playing at his Speakeasy twice a week, with friends of course. (His one-set gigs at the Speakeasy on Sundays and Mondays will start at 6 until 7:30pm.) Sometimes he’ll play in a duet with Mykia Jovan during the week, he said. Eventually he plans on having shows five nights a week with a variety of bands.


“I’d love to have Rebirth once a week, maybe in the near future. But it takes a lot to pay a big band like that.”


Kermit’s Treme Speakeasy is on 1535 Basin Street, open seven days a week from 11am-11pm.

WOW!!! We were just passing

WOW!!! We were just passing by Kermit's Treme Speakeasy, on Monday, July 30, to take a picture of the outside. Kermit stepped out just at that time. What a personable and pleasant guy. He did not know us from Adam. He told us that he was having a set at 6p.m., and that we should hang around for it. We went in and had dinner and drinks whild waiting for him to get started. OMG!!! What a great time. I now live in NJ, but I was born and raised in Bay St. Louis, MS. When they played "It's Carnival Time" and a young lady sitting at Kermit's reserved table jumped up and starting dancing, I could not restrain myself, I jumped up as well and joined her. What a fabulous time we had. I will definately go back there when I return to N'awlins. The food is to die for!
Patrice - Montclair, NJ

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