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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Friday, May 11, 2018

New Orleans Suspects – Live at The Hamilton - New release Review - Stilladog Guest Writer

The New Orleans Suspects began playing together in 2009 at the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans as a pick-up jam band. They originally called themselves The Unusual Suspects. Since they are all such accomplished musicians they quickly established a special chemistry. Well known in New Orleans, I first heard of them when I visited the Maple Leaf in fall of 2013. But they had actually been touring for 2 full years by then under the name New Orleans Suspects.. They began releasing albums and attracting crowds from coast to coast. Live at The Hamilton is their 5th release.
The band consists of Willie Green who was the drummer for the Neville Brothers for many years, Jake Eckert, the longtime lead guitarist of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. CR Gruver, a classically trained pianist who has completely embraced New Orleans style piano –pretty damn good on the Hammond B3 too!. Reggie Scanlan who has layed down the bass lines for The Radiators for as long as I can remember. And Jeff Watkins, an absolutely fantastic sax player who once led the James Brown Band!
The Hamilton had booked Bonerama and the New Orleans Suspects for their New Years Eve shows. And with the Suspects planning on recording a live album they invited the “trombone army” that is Bonerama to join them. Both bands hailing from NOLA it was a natural.
The album is a blend of original tunes and covers. It starts off with a stirring 7+ minute jam version of Buddy Miles’ Them Changes. I’ve heard this tune covered by everybody from Cornell Dupree and Eric Clapton to Javier Vargas and Carlos Santana/Buddy Miles, yet I dare say this is the best version of this tune I ever heard! Next up is an original tune of New Orleans funk. Yo Flambeaux! from their 2014 album Ouroboros. Jeff Watkins on sax takes center stage on this one while the rhythm section puts down a funky groove and Jake Eckert blends in a very tasty guitar interlude. Finders Keepers, an extended 9 minute jam follows. The funk oozes out of the fourth track, Get It Started, an original from their album Kaleidoscoped. It sure would be a good way to get a party started ‘cause the saxophone, pinched harmonics and all, is off the charts! Workin’ My Way Back Home sounds like if you mashed up Little Feat and Wet Wilie. Saxophone, guitar, and all sorts of organ. Pocketful of Grits starts off with a drum solo that sounds like that woodpecker who hammers out bugs on top of the telephone pole in my yard. But it quickly merges into a groove that’s easy to follow then breaks into solo jams by everybody. The album closes out with an excellent Little Feat medley of Spanish Moon / Skin It Back wherein Bonerama augments the horns to much the same arrangements Tower of Power horn section did on the Feat album Waiting For Columbus.
If this ain’t the kind of music they play in heaven I’m gonna be sorry I lived a clean life!

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