New Orleans Suspects is a funky, jam-heavy group consisting of members of the Meters, James Brown Band, Bonarama, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Neville Brothers. The group will play an intimate show at Martyrs' in October.
What We Say
Willie Green (Neville Brothers) / Charlie Wooten (Bonerama, Royal Southern Brotherhood) / Jake Eckert (Dirty Dozen) / CR Gruver (Meters) / Jeff Watkins (James Brown Band) /When New Orleans Suspects arose from the primordial musical soup that is New Orleans,they were a fill-in band and an occasional jam band at their neighborhood Maple Leaf Bar.The group brought together some of the best, most highly respected players in New Orleansincluding Jake Eckert, Jeff Watkins, CR Gruver “Mean” Willie Green on drums, and ReggieScanlan. When they started touring late in 2011, naysayers in the Crescent City agreed itwould not last; the Suspects would be another short-lived super group that would quickly fallapart under the weight of egos and money. New Orleans Suspects exceeded expectationsand some five years later they have delivered their fourth album release, Kaleidoscoped.Jake Eckert, the guitarist and one of the principal songwriters and vocalists, is a veteran of tenyears on the road with Dirty Dozen Brass Band, a former member of Larry Carlton’s band, anda Grammy Award ®-winning engineer. He has extensive formal music training and actuallytaught at the prestigious Guitar Institute of Technology. Not only has Eckert won a Grammy, heplayed on The Grammys broadcast with New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint.Kaleidoscoped was recorded at his Rhythm Shack Studios with assistance from Suspect JeffWatkins, a twelve-year veteran as sax player and section leader for the late James Brown,who constantly referred to him as “the ninth wonder of the world.” Watkins has a formalmusical and engineering education, having attended both the Universities of Missouri andMiami. He was a long-time member of the Joss Stone Band and has performed on multiplenetwork television shows.Keyboardist CR Gruver, the other principal songwriter and vocalist, spent years immersinghimself in the piano style of New Orleans legends like Dr. John, James Booker and AllenToussaint and is arguably the best living practitioner of the New Orleans boogie-woogie pianostyle, which is an aggregate of boogie-woogie, Caribbean rhythmic patterns and second line.Gruver made a name for himself, first in Philadelphia, then in the Rockies, with his bandPolytoxic, and later with Southern rockers Outformation. He also spent time in Leo Nocentelli’sband, pursuing the Meters’ groove.“Mean” Willie Green, best known for his 35 years as drummer for The Neville Bros., has alsoplayed on albums by Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Edie Brickell and The Grateful Dead. He literallyinvented one of the primary styles of New Orleans trap drumming for which he gets credit frommusicians around the world.Founding bassist Reggie Scanlan spent 34 years on the road as an original member of TheNew Orleans Radiators after stints with both Professor Longhair and James Booker. Thescholarly Scanlan, one of the last living connections to the original generation of New OrleansR&B musicians, has had to leave the road due to illness. Charlie Wooton (formerly of RoyalSouthern Brotherhood) now fills the touring bass chair. Scanlan’s illness drove the Suspectsto help fund medical care for the New Orleans music community. Scanlan, the band and itsmanagement have organized and directed numerous benefit concerts for the New OrleansMusicians Clinic, a 401(c)3 foundation that provides free and low-cost medical care andcounseling for more than 2,500 musicians. The band’s work with the clinic led them to joinforces with JoJo Hermann of Widespread Panic to present three versions of the benefit series“Down on the Bayou,” featuring the Suspects as musical directors and house band with guestsas diverse as Dr. John, all members of Widespread Panic, Al Schnier of moe., Marcia Ball,Harry Shearer, Leland Sklar, members of Aquarium Rescue Unit and “Beehive Queen”Christine Ohlman from the Saturday Night Live band.New Orleans Suspects are unbelievably tight on stage with their peers, press, venue ownersand promoters singing the praises of their musical prowess. They annually perform in a keyslot on the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival’s main stage. USA Today called theirAcura Stage set “Outstanding…a sound that could have only bubbled up from this city.…”New Orleans Jazzfest founder and current director Quint Davis says, “The Suspects are deeptissue New Orleans Funk and have emerged as one of the banner New Orleans music groups;taking their place among the standard bearers of our music. And they rock! Rather, funk.”They have become a regular fixture at noted concert and festival venues in San Francisco,San Diego, St. Louis, Chicago, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Atlanta,Birmingham, and in what has become a major stomping ground, New York City, where VillageVoice called them “a seriously funky crew,” and even The New Yorker occasionally notes theirpassing through the metropolis. The San Diego Union Tribune called them, “a rollicking blendof funk, jazz, blues, rock and vintage N’awlins R&B, designed to fill dance floors with gyratingcelebrants.”They have formed touring alliances with Tower of Power, Glen David Andrews (of Tréméfame) and Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett of Little Feat. The Barrere/Tackett/Suspects mashuphas been increasingly in demand at music festivals and has generated a track, “DixieHighway,” that appears on Kaleidoscoped. Members of Tower of Power and “Big Chief” JuanPardo also guest on the album on which the Suspects look at the history of New Orleansmusic through a brightly colored prismatic chamber and thus the album title.The band’s first, self-released eponymous album debuted in 2011 and featured the smokingCR Gruver original “36 Cars” as well as a few other band originals interspersed with coversongs. In 2012, the Suspects produced and released Caught Live at the Maple Leaf, a lovingtribute to the nightclub where it all started and a testament to the band’s increasing skills.Their 2014 studio album, Ouroboros, released on Louisiana Red Hot Records, generatedsubstantial radio play, both in the terrestrial world and on multiple Sirius/XM channels for focustracks “Get Back What You Given,” Soothe Me,” and “Magdalena” as well as rave reviews andfeatures in publications such as Stereophile, Downbeat, Modern Drummer and RelixMagazine. Kaleidoscoped will be released digitally and on CD on September 16th and on vinyl onSeptember 30th on Louisiana Red Hot Records. Headquartered in New Orleans, LouisianaRed Hot Records has released over 200 albums of the hottest Blues, Jazz, R&B, Gospel,Funk, Zydeco, Cajun and Rock, and is a leader among Southern independent labels