If New Orleans ever decides to elect a band to serve as its musical ambassadors to the world, The New Orleans Suspects would be the logical choice, both for the music they make now and for the musical legacy of their members.
Checkout the pedigree of this lineup: Reggie Scanlan on bass (The Radiators, Professor Longhair Band); “Mean” Willie Green on drums (Neville Bros.); Jeff Watkins on saxophone (James Brown Band, Joss Stone Band); Jake Eckert on guitar/vocals (Dirty Dozen Brass Band); and CR Gruver on keyboards and vocals (Polytoxic, Outformation). It just doesn’t get any better than that.
“We’re a homegrown sound,” Green said in an interview with Color magazine. “And I think we really come together as a band on this new CD. We’ve always been good live, but there’s a difference between playing in the studio and playing live on stage. On stage you can follow where the music takes you and jam, which is something we do very well. In the studio, though, you have to be tighter and capture that energy in a much more structured format; you have to play a song and not just jam.”
Ouroboros is the band’s third recording and the follow up to their 2012 live CD, Caught Live At The Maple Leaf. Released in October 2014 on Louisiana Red Hot Records, Ouroboros features 10 original songs that define the band’s sound, which is one that puts their own twist on the traditions of New Orleans music–fever-inducing funk, irresistible R&B rhythms, Longhair rhumbas, dancing-in-the-street second lines, jazzy soul-drenched horns, mind-melting swamp hoodoo, and feet-don’t-fail-me-now Carnivale music– that takes the listener on a wild ride through the city’s musical history in a brand new vehicle.
Green, who has been playing drums since he started banging on pots and pans in the kitchen as a kid, admitted that Ouroboros turned out as well as it did because of the time he and the other musicians have spent together making music. “It sounds much more like a band effort than something we just showed up in the studio to play. It has a nice energy and flow to it,” he said. “It’s great to see that energy come along with us as we hit the road.”
The road is a familiar place to Green, a place he’s called ‘home’ since he became a professional musician at the age of 16. And the stage is a place he’s always felt comfortable on, with one notable exception. “I was on stage with The Grateful Dead one tome playing in front of 70,000 people. That’s a feeling you don’t soon forget,” he said with a laugh. “After a while, though, you forget about the number and just play for the people. I played at all levels with The Neville Brothers, from cubs with a few hundred people to festivals with thousands and I can’t really say I have a preference. As long as you make that connection with the audience you can relate to them and just lay for the people who came to hear you.”