Boneslinger slings swinging, New Orleans-style jazz

CorrespondentJanuary 2, 2014 

Members of the jazz quintet Boneslinger have a long musical history in the Triangle. The group will open for Six String Drag Saturday at the Pour House in Raleigh.


  • Details

    Who: Boneslinger (opening for Six String Drag)

    When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday

    Where: The Pour House, 224 S. Blount St., Raleigh

    Cost: $10 online, $15 door

    Info: 919-821-1120 or

It seemed fitting for trombonist/pianist David J. Wright to talk about his latest musical project while at Sadlack’s Heroes on the final Saturday the legendary bar and eatery would be open at its longtime Hillsborough Street location before shutting down for good on New Year’s Day.

It’s there, specifically in Sadlack’s notorious patio/performance area, where the Charlotte-born, Garner-based jazz man first started playing with Triangle jazz group the Countdown Quartet.

“I was in Countdown Quartet for years,” says Wright, 44, referring to the band he co-founded with bassist Steve Grothmann, which included such members as Squirrel Nut Zippers guitarist Jimbo Mathus and sax player Peter Lamb of Peter Lamb & the Wolves. “We always played here.” In fact, the Quartet loved playing there so much, they named their third album “Sadlack’s Stomp.”

So, when Wright started up another jazz band by the name of Boneslinger, and they needed a place to work things out as a live band, they turned to Sadlack’s. “We played on Thursdays for about two months in a row,” he says. “We didn’t really rehearse much, so we were kind of learning the songs and working them out here.”

Now a year old, Boneslinger is a quintet that shares the same love for swinging, New Orleans-style jazz as Wright’s old Countdown crew.

“I did Countdown for 15 years, so everything I’ve done musically pings off of that band,” Wright says.

In fact, several Boneslinger members have ties with the Countdown quartet. Bassist Ben Palmer and drummer Carl Blackwell both sat in with Countdown during live shows, while trumpeter Paul Rogers is Lamb’s half-brother. Tenor saxophonist Aaron Hill, whom Wright jammed with during Atomic Rhythm All-Stars gigs, fills out the rest of the group.

As for what inspires Boneslinger’s sound, Wright goes back to the tunes of Ray Charles, Howlin’ Wolf, Count Basie, Professor Longhair, Booker T. and the M.G.’s, etc. Wright got hip to those artists thanks to his father’s record collection.

“My dad had one of those RCA record memberships when he was a teenager,” he says. “And we had an RCA tube console stereo as a kid. It sounded fantastic. We had all these records, and that’s what we listened to. I think he quit buying records in 1965 – never brought anything newer after that. He kept the same old records.”

Those records have shaped and molded Wright’s musical tastes, which are on full display on the band’s debut album, “Boneless Cuts.” Currently available on iTunes and, “Cuts” (which was recorded at Raleigh music shop/jazz-band hangout Marsh Woodwinds) includes original tunes composed by Wright, along with offbeat covers of such tunes as Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and Perry Como’s “Papa Loves Mambo.” There are even a couple of Professor Longhair covers.

“Well, those were the covers that I think were going the best,” he says. “Like, when we perform live, those are the ones that have the most reception, and they seem to be the funnest tunes.” He also recorded the Santo & Johnny instrumental “Sleep Walk,” not because it was a crowd favorite, but because it’s one of his dad’s favorite tunes.

While Boneslinger is now performing around the Triangle (the band will open up for Six String Drag on Saturday at the Pour House), Wright will always be grateful to Sadlack’s for always giving him and his bands a regular spot to jam.

“I’ve had a lot of great times here, with a lot of wonderful people,” he says. “It will be missed.”

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