New Orleans Suspects began playing together in 2009 as a pick-up band at the Maple Leaf in New Orleans. Comprised of some of the most seasoned, highly respected players in NOLA, the group called themselves The Unusual Suspects. Their chemistry was undeniable and by the summer of 2011 they decided to tour full-time, renaming the band New Orleans Suspects. They quickly began attracting large crowds from San Francisco to New York. In three short years they released three CDs and established themselves as one of New Orleans’ best supergroups.
“Mean” Willie Green was the drummer for the Neville Brothers for over thirty years. His unparalleled style has helped shape New Orleans funk, and his drumming has graced recorded tracks by dozens of artists, including The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Edie Brickell.
Reggie Scanlan’s career has been defined by his thirty-three years playing bass in The Radiators – the longest running rock act in the history of New Orleans – but his résumé is far deeper; Scanlan spent much of the 1970’s in the bands of legends James Booker, Professor Longhair, and Earl King.
Jake Eckert was the lead guitarist in the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. While living in Los Angeles he played in the band New Soul Underground along with jazz great Larry Carlton. He has performed with some of the biggest names in the business, including Warren Haynes, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, and Dave Matthews.
CR Gruver is a classically trained pianist who immersed himself in New Orleans piano styles after touring with national bands such as Outformation and singer/songwriter Angie Aparo. Adept at James Booker-style piano and the swelling B-3 stylings of Art Neville, Gruver has also become a well-regarded sideman for Leo Nocentelli of The Meters.
Jeff Watkins is an accomplished sax player, engineer and producer. He spent twelve years leading the James Brown Band, including Brown’s induction into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. He also worked for six years with Joss Stone as her producer, engineer, and bandleader.
The two albums New Orleans Suspects have released since 2011 include their eponymous debut studio album and a live recording, Caught Live at the Maple Leaf, which made it into the iTunes® highly competitive “New and Noteworthy” page.
Their upcoming release, Ouroboros, is an all-original studio album that characterizes the band’s sound and places them in a class of their own. Putting a contemporary twist on the funk, rock, and R&B traditions of New Orleans music, this album is like taking a wild ride through they city’s musical history in a brand new vehicle. Ouroboros will be released on Louisiana Red Hot Records and distributed by E-1 in October of 2014 and will give the band their first shot at a national marketing campaign – including a radio push for their first single “Soothe Me,” written by Mr. Eckert. As always, the band will continue to keep the hot in support of the new release.
Photos © Denise Pilar Yver 2013