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New Orleans Suspects Talk History, Chemistry Ahead of Bunker’s Shows

New Orelaans Suspects
Photo: neworleanssuspects.com

There are two types of cities in this world: those that have music and those that that live for music.

New Orleans falls firmly under the latter. To say the “Crescent City” has a rich musical history is an understatement. In terms of innovation in popular music in the 20th century, it could be argued that no other American city was more important. From blues and jazz to funk and rhythm and blues, many genres consider the city (and the region) to be a holy ground of sorts, a place where the roots run deep and the talent is abundant.

It isn’t all in the past, however. To this day, New Orleans is a hotbed for many styles of music and is home to more talented players than one can wrap their brain around.

Friday and Saturday night at Bunker’s, The New Orleans Suspects, one of the city’s best bands will be on display. A supergroup of sorts, they will bring their trademark mix of funk, rock, jazz, and more to the North Loop venue. The shows – dubbed the “Mardi Gras Boil” (Friday) and the “Mardi Gras Ball” (Saturday) – will see the beloved band playing Minneapolis for the first time in 2019.

The Suspects, whose members have played with the likes of the Neville Brothers, the North Mississippi All-Stars, and James Brown, have almost a decade of experience playing together, and, like many of the best Big Easy bands, exude comfort, familiarity, and chemistry when playing onstage. Expect lots of improvisation, a deep groove or two, and most importantly, lots of fun.

Concert-goers will want to arrive early. Mae Simpson will be opening night one. A singer-songwriter with a killer voice and an excellent band behind her, Simpson is bound to impress. Night two will feature the funk and soul stylings of Jaedyn James and the Hunger. A dynamic group known for their fiery live performances, they’ll surely entertain. As a bonus, James will sit in with the Suspects for a set that night. It’s bound to be a highlight of what promises to be a can’t-miss weekend.

Music in Minnesota talked with the band ahead of their Minneapolis shows about their musical history and chemistry.

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MIM: The Suspects come from many different musical backgrounds. What ties you together, musically speaking?

NOS: Each of the members have very different styles and backgrounds. Yes, as individuals we sound very different, but when we play together, it definitely has a sound that is greater than the sum of its parts…. We all served as side men for years (James Brown, Neville Bros. Dirty Dozen etc.). That being said, each of us is a band leader in our own right… I think that is what ties us together

MIM: A lot of people have ideas about the “New Orleans Sound.” What does that mean to you?

NOS: “The New Orleans Sound” is more of a feeling than anything. It overcomes the listener and makes them move…. You know, shake your ass.

MIM: Are there any up-and-coming or under the radar musicians from New Orleans you find particularly inspiring at the moment?

NOS: There are so many great young players in New Orleans. Every time I go out to see a new band lately I’ve been blown away. A young band I like is Naughty Professor – great horn section and groove.

MIM: The Suspects have been playing and touring together for some time now. How long did it take to build or discover the on-stage chemistry you‘re known for?

NOS: We’ve been together for 10 years now, I feel the stage chemistry happened immediately when we started and that is why we continued with it. The key, after a decade of performing together, is to do what it takes to keep it fresh. That’s the true art.

MIM: You guys have been coming through Minneapolis for a number of years. What do you like about playing here?

NOS: Minneapolis is one of those cities with real music fans. I remember coming to Dakota Jazz Club with Dirty Dozen probably 10 or 15 years ago and being blown away by the crowd on like a Tuesday in the middle of January. There is support for good music, (and) there is also great food and great people in Minneapolis.

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