Words by: Justin Gillett | Images by: Pat Parra
Dumpstaphunk :: 08.15.09 :: The Fillmore :: San Francisco, CA
Times seem to be extremely tight for ardent funk fans. Apart from the occasional throwback act or cover band, the genre seems to have slipped into disarray. Yes, there's mainstays like Galactic and Karl Denson, but there seems to be a serious lack of no nonsense funk in the modern music community. It might be that young musicians are scared to devote themselves to a style of music that isn't "indi-something" or "alt-that" (not a lot of hot "indi-funk" or "alt-funk" bands running around). Possibly, it's that bands are not willing to toss themselves wholeheartedly to a genre that seems slightly bygone. Regardless of the factors, there's clearly a lack of new bands willing to charge full force towards exploring the awesome powers of funk. Where do serious funk fans turn to in such difficult times? The answer is clear: Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk.
|Dumpstaphunk :: 08.15 :: The Fillmore|
Ever since keyboardist extraordinaire Ivan Neville formed the band in 2003, the group has been making believers out of funk naysayers across the country. With an all star cast of New Orleans musicians to round the band out, including the dual bass talents of Tony Hall (Trey Anastasio, Dave Matthews & Friends) and Nick Daniels (Neville Brothers), drummer Raymond Weber (Trey Anastasio, Joe Sample) and guitarist Ian Neville (Funky Meters, Neville Brothers), Dumpstaphunk is clearly capable of serving up some dirty, crunchy funk jams. The group's recent performance at San Francisco's Fillmore was evidence that funk is not dead. It's still alive and kicking, in a select group of musicians.
Opening D-Phunk's San Francisco show was Eric Krasno & Chapter 2, a tight-knit four-piece that didn't disappoint fans who showed up early. Axe man Krasno, of Soulive fame, has managed to amass an impressive group of musicians with Chapter 2. The band is rooted in funk grooves yet is still open to experiment with modern influences to add relevance to their sound. Bassist Louis Cato was a spectacle behind his instrument as his fingers flickered over his five-string. Cato's mastery on the bass made it hard to imagine the talented multi-instrumentalist playing drums with other acts like Major Dilla Salute and Tony Williams. Cato and Kraz earned the attention they received but all four guys in Chapter 2 more than pull their weight. The band's adherence to technical instrumental exchanges makes them sound like some prog-funk hybrid - a style of music that hopefully garners more attention as the years progress.
|Nick Daniels - Dumpstaphunk :: 08.15 :: The Fillmore|
The funky war birds that comprise Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk began their set with a thick jam. If you haven't experienced it in the flesh, it's hard to imagine a band with two bass players, but the low-end teamwork of Hall and Daniels really works and adds layers of originality to D-Phunk's sound. While Hall crafted the backbone of the opening number deep on his instrument, Daniels was able to compliment the groove by playing high notes with skill and nuance. The group's bottom-end sound was surprisingly not overpowering. Ivan Neville's keys were pronounced in the musical mix as was Ian Neville's subtle guitar playing. While a horn section often accompanies the band on record, the absence of live brass did not deter the band from achieving the needed fluctuations in tempo and texture. The lack of horns actually seemed to make the musicians onstage play their instruments harder and concentrate on the intricate song arrangements more.
As the set progressed, it was clear that Dumpstaphunk was adamant about packing The Fillmore with as much dirty, messy, sweaty funk as possible. Weber was in command behind his drum kit and really let his cymbals ring - especially the bell on his ride cymbal, which he banged unrelentingly. To say Weber is a big guy would be an understatement. The overall grandiosity of his physical stature makes him the perfect size to sit behind a drum kit. Weber was visually happy with the band's sound as was Hall, evidenced by the huge grin on his face. Having played with Dave Matthews and Trey Anastasio's solo bands, Hall has done his fair share of catering his talent to musicians. With Dumpstaphunk, though, Hall really seems to open up and experiment. At The Fillmore, he handled lead vocals occasionally and played a Fender six-string, which he was able to shred quite well.
|Ivan Neville - Dumpstaphunk :: 08.15 :: The Fillmore|
Since the formation of the band seven years ago, Ivan Neville has really grown into a bandleader. While he often shared lead vocals with Hall, it was Neville who had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. During the D-Phunk staple "Put It In The Dumpsta," Neville led concertgoers in a righteous call-and-answer battle. Asking, "What we gonna do?," and hearing back, "Put it in the dumpsta!" from the thunderous crowd.
At age 50, Ivan Neville is by no means a rookie. He's been around the music world for years. Son of Aaron Neville, one of the founding members of the quintessential '70s New Orleans soul band The Neville Brothers, Ivan has based his life around his craft. He's backed several big time stars (Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt, John Mayer) over his storied career, and now has his own band to play the style of music that he feels most at home with. If young musicians are afraid to touch funk, thank god there's older guys like Ivan Neville to keep the funk fire alive.
For the last song of the evening Dumpstaphunk invited Krasno, Cato and keyboardist/vocalist Nigel Hall of Chapter 2, to the stage, as well as Sly and the Family Stone drummer Greg Errico for a rousing rendition of the Family's "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)." The all-out funk assault that ensued was truly something to behold. The insane jam, that seemed to last 15 minutes, was a proper way to cap the evening's festivities and proved that Dumpsta truly is one of, if not the, flag bearer of their musical genre.
Dumpstaphunk tour dates available here.
Continue reading for a few more pics of Dumpstaphunk in San Francisco...