Left to right: Bassist Greg Frederick, drummer David Bolen, keyboard player Dean Angermeier and lead guitarist Dirk Price. - Jim Craven

One sweet dream

It's been a good year for The Rogue Suspects. The rock and blues band is busy playing every concert venue and club in the region.

"It's been interesting," says Greg Frederick, bassist for the Rogue Valley-based group. "We're experiencing a success that's taken us more than 10 years to achieve."

The Suspects will open a show for Tower of Power on Wednesday, July 30, at the Rogue Theatre in Grants Pass and another for Michael McDonald on Aug. 27 at Britt Festivals in Jacksonville. They opened Peter Frampton's July 17 show at the Lithia Amphitheater, and will appear regularly at Roscoe's, Touvelle, 4 Daughters and other clubs.

"The Rogue Theatre, Britt, the amphitheater, these are major gigs that any local band would want," Frederick says. "The magic is that the headliners we're opening for are groups that inspired us to do what we do. It's as though a circle has been completed."

Add the club appearances and the big shows together and the Suspects will be performing more than 100 shows this year, Frederick says. "To be working musicians is a wonderful thing. We make a substantial part of our living playing music."

It's not likely that the Suspects will be the next big rock band with a string of hit albums, Frederick says, but each member of the group works hard to be able to live as a working musician right here in the Rogue Valley.

"We get to be rock stars every weekend, and the big concerts are nice because we don't have to go on the road," he says. "We're in our 50s now. We have families."

There are several good reasons that the Suspects are hired so often. The group's members know the drill, know how to get their gear in and out of a club or hall for shows. They also have an extensive song list that includes original material and covers, and, best of all, they like to have fun with audiences.

"Each venue is different," Frederick says. "We play differently at Touvelle than we do at Roscoe's. Some places want rock 'n' roll, some want blues. We like to participate with the crowd and play what they request. It's what makes it fun."

The Frampton show at the Jackson County Fair was a good experience for the Suspects.

"Many of our fans were there along with Frampton's. It was nice, they were calling out our names and supporting us. It's nice when the audience wants to be a part of all of it."

So what does a band like the Suspects play when it's opening for a heavy soul-and-funk hitter like Tower of Power?

"All original material," Frederick answers matter-of-factly.

"That will be a musically educated audience. Tower of Power are musicians' musicians. It will be a great opportunity for us to showcase our originals."

Guitarist Dirk Price and keyboard player Dean Angermeier are the two principal songwriters for the Suspects. They are two very different songwriters, Frederick explains.

"Dirk is from Texas and has that Stevie Ray Vaughn approach to music, while Dean is from Michigan and a little more like Steely Dan. And David (Bolen) is a soul drummer. As you listen to our material you'll hear the different styles weave in and out of our sound."

So there's Texas-style shuffles mixed with East Coast jazz, an old rock 'n' roller on bass and a Motown drummer, Frederick says. That pretty much sums it up.

Jeff Pevar of Crosby, Stills and Nash fame, along with saxophonist Brandon Fields (who coincidentally toured with Tower of Power in the early 1990s), will join The Rogue Suspects on Thursday, July 31, at 4 Daughters Irish Pub in Medford, and the Suspects will perform Aug. 1 at the Stagecoach Saloon in Jacksonville; Aug. 2 at Alex's in Ashland; Aug. 7 at Eden Valley Orchards in Medford; and Aug. 8 and 9 at Roscoe's in Phoenix.

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