By Brian Turk
The Neville name is as New Orleans as The Saints. As Crescent City as Cafe Du Monde. As big as the Big Easy. The Neville’s are simply synonymous with NOLA.
Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk made their debut at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2003. Neville has said that the funk they have been creating is so stanky and nasty that the only place to put it is “in the dumpsta’.”
“Funk is all about the groove. All about the drums, the bass lines, the chinking guitar parts. It’s a music that makes you dance. You can’t help but move your body when you hear it. That’s the goal of funk music, to make you dance, to get you lost in the groove,” said Ivan Neville in a recent interview with The Marquee from his home in New Orleans.
Getting lost in the groove is second nature to the Nevilles and the strong NOLA lineage of both Ivan and his guitar-playing nephew Ian have made getting lost easier than throwing away a map. “Music is a way of life down here. It’s a right of passage. You got the Andrews family, the Marsalis brothers, the Lastie family. There is always music around the house. There is music on the streets. It’s just what we do down here. For me, when I was growing up, I just was always around music,” Neville said. “My uncles and my dad were all musicians. I remember when I was five or six years old there was a drum kit set up in our living room. It belonged to Zigaboo Modeliste from The Meters, who played with my uncle Art Neville in the band. There was a piano in our house, too. There was always a lot going on. Lots of records, too.”
When you are surrounded by musicians who are at the top of their game, and a musician yourself, at some point you have to assess whether you are ready to step in the ring and come out swinging, or if you’re going to be standing outside the ropes. “I used to go to recording sessions with my dad [Aaron Neville] and watch people make music. It was a cool experience, and even as a kid it looked like something cool to be a part of. When I was a teenager, and realized I could play a little bit, I realized I could do it too,” said Neville. “In my neighborhood as a kid, everyone played music. Some pursued it and kept with it, and some did it for a while and then got other jobs.”
In New Orleans, musicians who tour nationally seem to always get out into the local clubs while they are home, and Neville does so regularly. “When you’re off the road, you pick your spots. You maybe play a little club or a small gig, just something casual. I still do that to this day. Every now and again when I am home I’ll go play The Maple Leaf on a Thursday night. Johnny Vidacovich and George Porter, Jr. have a residency there, and they pick a third to come play with them. I always love playing there on Thursdays when I am home,” he said.
Dumpstaphunk released their second studio album Dirty Word earlier this year, and it features some heavy hitters from The Crescent City and beyond. “This album was really natural,” said Neville. “Most of the guests on the record were all by chance. We had already had Rebirth Brass Band in mind for one of our more traditional New Orleans songs, and we got Trombone Shorty to play on that song, too. Then my uncle Art, Ian’s father, was hanging out with us at the studio, and he wound up on the song, too. I mean, that song has multiple generations of New Orleans players. It’s called ‘Raise The House.’ That’s like, three generations of funk, man. We got our friend Skerik to come in on a song called ‘I Wish You Would.’ I put a little chant vocal onto the song, and got Trombone Shorty to play a couple of things on it, but we really didn’t know what to do with it. It needed something. Skerik was in town, and we just put him in the studio and told him to do whatever he wanted. He put some hard shit on there that is fucking bad! I just said, ‘It needs you on it Skerik, so do your thing.’ And he did.”
One of the most interesting appearances on the album is simply a result of New Orleans hospitality. “Another sit-in that was even more by chance was Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers,” said Neville. “Flea was in town, and I picked him up to get something to eat. I took him to Domilise’s Po Boy & Bar to have his first oyster po boy sandwich and what not. Then we went to a friend’s house and had a crawfish boil that day. After that we brought him to the studio later that day. He wound up picking up a bass and getting on a tune.”
Dumpstaphunk will be supporting Umphrey’s McGree on the Sunday night show of U.M.’s three-night New Year’s Eve run at Denver’s Fillmore Auditorium.
:: Dumpstaphunk ::
:: Fillmore Auditorium :: December 29 ::
Recommended if you Like:
• The New Mastersounds
• George Porter Jr. & His Runnin’ Pardners