New Orleans Suspects May Be Seasoned Musicians, but They Offer "a Fresh Perspective"
With the possible exception of Austin, Memphis, and Nashville (OK, maybe you could toss New York and Chicago in there), no American city has contributed more to this country's rich musical heritage than New Orleans. So when you gather a group of that city's most celebrated music-makers, representing the very bands that contributed to that fabled legacy -- like Neville Brothers, the Radiators, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band -- it's clearly an auspicious assemblage. The New Orleans Suspects, which include members of the aforementioned acts, is one such collaboration formed in 2011.
The Suspects' bassist Reggie Scanlan -- whose stint with the Radiators encompassed the whole of their 34-year career --doesn't exactly demur when the term supergroup is applied to his new association. "That's all in the eye of the beholder," he suggests. "Yes, from the standpoint of marketing the band, we make a lot of noise about the bands we all came from, and we are proud of it. I guess you could call it a supergroup, but we don't look at it like that."
Nevertheless, as Scanlan also suggests, any band that claims to represent New Orleans' best has a lingering legacy to live up to. And, as he also admits, the musical bar is set so high, it can prove daunting.
"Absolutely," he agrees. "Basically, everyone coming up behind you is going to be a better player. With all the music programs that now exist in the schools in New Orleans, kids are now coming out of school that are almost world-class players when they graduate. It really can be intimidating. I think all working musicians out of New Orleans are aware of that legacy. Fans, writers and others always remind us of it."
Given the all-star line-up, Scanlan also concedes that it was necessary to put their egos aside. "It's like any relationship," he maintains. "There's a lot of give and take, both in terms of personalities and in the music. For me, playing brass band music, despite coming from a rock 'n' roll background, required some new thinking. It helps that we all have the same goal. Every member of this band spent most of their careers as a sideman. If you're playing in James Brown's band or the Neville Brothers, there's no room for ego. We certainly don't expect star treatment."