MUSIC BOX: Bayou Rebirth and Raptors

By on June 14, 2017

12th annual Crawfish Boil, New Orleans Suspects and RaptorFest kick off the Jackson Hole Live series.

New Orleans Suspects

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Like waiting for the roll-down-the-windows chorus of your favorite anthem, the sprawling outdoor concert scene of summer is highly anticipated. How many rad community events can be fit into one special Sunday in June? To celebrate Father’s Day, summer solstice and the kick-off of the Jackson Hole Live series, the celebrated RaptorFest will precede the 12th annual Crawfish Boil featuring New Orleans Suspects with special guests Boondocks, a band I happen to be a member of. It’s all happening this Sunday at Snow King Ball Field and it’s flavored with a huge scoop of New Orleans culture.

The Crawfish Boil has been a labor of love for 307 Live production company since 2006, when co-founder Harper Hollis, a Louisiana-native, hauled fresh crawfish and equipment back from his native state to host about 15 friends in his backyard. As the event grew into a community event at 43 North, The Bird, and several years at Cutty’s, Hollis aimed to bring bigger acts despite taking all of the risk on a personal credit card. 307 Live has consistently delivered Southern charm to the event, complete with cajun food and Big Easy bands, and the partnership with Jackson Hole Live has helped solidify the future of the event that now draws thousands.

“For the past six years, there are a few guys that drive32 hours from Louisiana with two thousand pounds of crawfish and their own equipment,” Hollis said. “Crawfish are like lobster—they need to be cooked while they’re still alive. This way, they are fresh. I have about 15 volunteers, Southerners, that are a big help every year and the JH Live partnership is a perfect fit.”

New Orleans is an anomaly of a music mecca, and the sound that permeates the streets and clubs is a blend of second line beats, Funky Meters-esque grooves, Mardi Gras Indian dancing and chanting, and almost always, brass.

Originally called The Usual Suspects, the New Orleans Suspects embody this very spirit and its members live in the same Riverbend neighborhood. Formed in 2009 and solidified as a touring unit a few years later, the five-piece supergroup is comprised of drummer “Mean” Willie Green (of the Neville Brothers), bassist Charlie Wooden (Royal Southern Brotherhood and Bonerama), guitarist Jake Eckert (Dirty Dozen Brass Band), pianist and electric kazoo player CR Gruver (Outformation), and saxophonist/producer Jeff Watkins (James Brown Band, Joss Stone). Though highly experienced individually, there’s no denying the chemistry born from the sum of these parts.

The Boondocks

“There were a lot of misconceptions about who we were in the beginning, people thought we were just a supergroup, just a collection of people from other bands,” Gruver told Gambit. “We felt like we were more than that, more of an actual band.”

The notion of leaving their own stamp on the greater NOLA scene was solidified with the release of the band’s third album, Ouroboros, which was the band’s first set of original tunes. Now with the recent release of Kaleidoscoped, an effervescent musical gumbo has erupted in a decisively 70s style—Louisiana swamp pop, soul-infused rambas, upbeat funk, and traditional R&B.

Opening the show is country-blues, Southern-rockin’ five-piece Boondocks (this columnist happens to be a band member), bringing a juke joint vibe to the local scene for more than a decade. Besides having three soloists and four singers, another distinction that sets the band apart is the “righteous harmonica playing,” as described by Bluegrass Now magazine, by electric harmonica player John Kuzloski—a roots/blues connoisseur capable of wailing a la Little Walter, the revolutionary harp player that joined Muddy Waters’s band in 1948 and used amplification to explore radical new timbres. PJH

Jackson Hole Live and 307 Live present the 12th annual Crawfish Boil featuring New Orleans Suspects and Boondocks, 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 18 at Snow King Ballpark. All ages, $5. RaptorFest begins at 2:30 p.m., after which crawfish, sausage and all the fixins will be available for purchase.

Aaron Davis is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, audio engineer at Three Hearted Studio, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.


Screen Door Porch duo

(Mangy Moose)


Major Zephyr (Silver Dollar); Canyon Kids duo (Mangy Moose)


Maracuja (Mangy Moose);

Louque (Three Peaks);

DJ Londo (The Rose)


The Funk Felons (Town Square Tavern); Quenby & West of Waylon (Silver Dollar)


12th annual Crawfish Boil: New Orleans Suspects and Boondocks

(Snow King Ball Field); Jason Tyler Burton (Silver Dollar)


JH Hootenanny (Dornan’s)


One Ton Pig (Silver Dollar);

Stackhouse (Mangy Moose)

About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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