One obvious outcome from this experience is my demonstrated love for music, especially funk music, from New Orleans. There are many artists who have advanced this genre, and the core of my enthusiasm centers around the Meters and the Neville Brothers, and their common link, Art “Poppa Funk” Neville. Even though Poppa Funk has moved on to that organ in the sky, thankfully there is a new generation carrying on and expanding the sound he and his brothers and friends created. Led by his nephew Ivan Neville (son of Aaron), the band Dumpstaphunk is another band I will go out of my way and even travel to see live. The band also includes Art’s son Ian on guitar, along with Tony Hall and Nick Daniels, both of whom played bass for the Neville Brothers at some point. One, the Neville bloodline is obviously strong here, and two, any band with two bass players is clearly on a path to dropping some serious funk.
They have been around in some form for almost twenty years, and one of their best songs ever is the track “Meanwhile”, which came out as a response to the country’s slow and inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina. In 2021, they also released an album that was a response to not only the COVID pandemic, but the explosive social justice movement following the death of George Floyd. Featuring some great artists on guest appearance, this record is now the foundation of their live show, which is eminently funky and enjoyable.
The record opens with “United Nations Stomp”, featuring Marcus King on guitar, who has another song recommended by a friend that I truly love, “Homesick”. “United Nations Stomp” takes their funky recipe and adds in some jamming blues rock to the mix. Not every song is an all-time favorite, but the good ones are really good. “Backwash” is an instrumental that takes you back to the earliest days of the Meters, when their entire first album was instrumental funk. All it takes is the first 45 seconds for you to appreciate how sick the groove is with this band.
“Let’s Get At It” is one of the songs to feature Ivan Neville on lead vocals. Those duties rotate between him, Daniels and Hall, but Ivan’s signature smoky voice is the perfect sound for their style. The title track, which I fell in love with before the album was released, is another highlight. If I were to nitpick, I wish it was closer to 5 minutes than 8 minutes, as it is the type of song I would love to share with friends as an introduction, but I know not all listeners may be up for the extended jam at the end.
I really do love most of this album, and another highlight is “Justice 2020”, which features Chali 2na and Trombone Shorty, with whom they are touring with this summer. It was picked up as an anthem for the movement of social progress that has gained momentum and resistance along the way. Not only do they make great funk, they deliver it with meaning and substance.
I have seen this act in many different venues, and I look back at their show last year at the Levitt Pavilion in Denver as one of the best shows I have ever seen. As their mantra states, you should definitely look to “put it in tha Dumpsta” soon. These guys can flat-out play. Check out “Meanwhile” or one of the peaks of this album, or better yet, come with me to see them live, and you will get it… I promise.