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 four 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 longtime lead guitarist in the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Traveling the world, he has performed everywhere from Palace Square in Russia to 2009 Grammy Awards ceremony. He has other talents as well, receiving a Grammy Award in 2011 for recording engineer and producing albums for John Mooney, Cedric Burnside, and New Orleans Suspects, among others.
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 three 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.
The band’s third and most recent recording, 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 was released in October 2014 on Louisiana Red Hot Records and received rave reviews from the press and substantial airplay on syndicated blues radio.
Photos © Denise Pilar Yver 2013