The New Orleans Suspects blended the city’s native rhythm-and-blues with driving Southern rock Sunday afternoon on the Acura Stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell.
Second-line beats accompanied sweet, sailing slide guitar rides and R&B-based sax solos.
A band of music veterans, the group includes longtime Neville Brothers drummer “Mean” Willie Green, former James Brown and Joss Stone sax player Jeff Watkins, and Reggie Scanlan, the former bassist for the Radiators, Professor Longhair and James Booker.
It’s a potent lineup of old pros who can still kick out the jams.
Jake Eckert stands in front of the band’s great rhythm section, singing lead and playing liquid, thrilling slide guitar. He’s obviously studied the late slide master, Duane Allman.
The classically trained but roots-music-informed CR Gruver plays piano and organ with a nod to such New Orleans keyboard greats as James Booker and Art Neville. There’s also an echo of the Allman Brothers’ Gregg Allman and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Billy Powell.
Two members of Little Feat, singer-guitarist Paul Barrere and multi-instrumentalist Fred Tackett, joined the group for a brisk and rolling final song.
“I’m going down to New Orleans,” Barrere sang, “where they dance in the streets every day.”