In the midst of a terrible cold snap and drizzling snow, the New Orleans Suspects and Bonerama rolled into The Hamilton Live in Washington, DC, bringing pure New Orleans warmth to friends, family and the faithful. The annual pilgrimages to the northeast for Bonerama and the New Orleans Suspects have become part gig, part family reunion. Many road bands make friends in far off towns, but the bands from NOLA seem to have deeper friendships and connections to their fans, lingering long after the show ends catching up with group after group of people.
On this trip the Suspects were making a live recording over the last two nights of the year. Keyboardist CR Gruver said “The band wanted to capture a moment in time, showing our growth since our last record. The Hamilton is a fantastic room with a really knowledgeable staff, and the room has very little sound bounce back, making it ideal for a live recording.”
Bonerama (nominated for Best of the Beat Awards) is touring on the strength of the band’s recent release Hot Like Fire (Basin Street Records), and played several cuts from the record including “Bad Dog,” “Sun Lion” and “High Horse.” The set was soulful and tight, delivering exactly what fans expect. The set peaked when the band invited New Orleans Suspects’ CR Gruver, Jake Eckert and Jeff Watkins to join them for “Walkin’ To New Orleans,” a tribute to Fats Domino.
The New Orleans Suspects came out of the gate flying with crisp and focused playing. There is great interplay in this band, having played together for so long. It’s common to see someone play something in his solo that elicits a quick smile from everyone else in the band.
The Bonerama horns have a way of making every gig they play on go to the next level when they get to sit in with another band. They can write horn lines on the fly and they instinctively know when and how to split out the harmony or play in unison. When the Suspects invited the Bonerama horns out to join them for a Little Feat medley of Spanish Moon into Skin It Back, the show absolutely exploded. And the next step was to invite the rest of Bonerama out to finish the night together playing the New Orleans standard Big Chief.