It’s been said that the musicians of New Orleans are all members of one gigantic band that breaks up into smaller groups on a nightly basis. If this were really the case, The New Orleans Suspects would be in a class all their own. The group is comprised of musicians with experience and versatility that rival any other band the city has ever produced.
“Mean” Willie Green has been the drummer for the Neville Brothers band since the 1980s. His unique attack has defined funk drumming for a quarter of a century, yet he is not a one-dimensional player. His taste in music spans the gamut of modern rock styles and he is as comfortable driving the beat as he is holding down the groove.
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 resume is far deeper. Scanlan spent much of the 1970’s in the bands of legends such as James Booker and Professor Longhair.
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 style after touring with nationally known bands such as The Meters Experience, Outformation, and singer/songwriter Angie Aparo. Since moving to New Orleans he has become a well-regarded sideman adept at James Booker-style piano and the swelling B-3 stylings of Art Neville.
Jeff Watkins is an accomplished sax player, engineer and producer. He played all over the world leading James Brown’s band for 12 years, including the induction into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. After Brown’s passing, he worked for six years with Joss Stone as her producer, engineer and band-leader before joining The Suspects full-time.
Together, these five musicians are The New Orleans Suspects. Known for their high-energy live shows, they create music that is firmly rooted in the modern New Orleans sound with compelling originals and tasteful covers. They released two albums in 2012 – their eponymous debut studio album, and “Live at the Maple Leaf”, making it into iTunes highly competitive “New and Noteworthy” page. The band is continually touring while working on a second studio album which has recently been completed. Titled, “OUROBOROS, the album will be released later in 2014.
Photos © Denise Pilar Yver 2013