Funk comes in many rump-twisting varieties. There’s old-school Dyke and the Blazers funk. There’s afro-era Sly and the Family Stone funk. There’s wicked-good Bar-Kays funk. And, of course, there’s classic P-Funk.
Then there’s Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk.
Coming up with a name for his band, Neville was thinking funk-ay.
“Our take on funk is very, very funky,” the singer-keyboardist says, “and very nasty compared to most of the other funk bands now, and the ones that have come before us. We know that we’re pretty funky. So I was just thinking of what’s nasty and what’s dirty, and there’s nothing too much nastier and dirtier than a Dumpster.”
Imagine a Dumpster behind a restaurant in the band’s hometown of New Orleans. It’s piled high with crawfish shells and still-steaming gumbo and scraps of the region’s spicy musical heritage - from the Meters and Neville Brothers (two acts that included Neville’s father, Aaron, and uncle, Art) all the way back to Lee Dorsey and Professor Longhair.
Dumpster-dive into that beautiful mess, and you’ll begin to understand Dumpstaphunk.
“That’s the common denominator,” Neville says. “We’re all from New Orleans. We’ve all played with pretty much damn near everybody there is to play with growing up in New Orleans music.”
Yet this is a band of musicians with worldly perspective. Neville has played in Keith Richards’ group X-pensive Winos, with Bonnie Raitt and on a couple of Rolling Stones albums. Bassist-guitarist Tony Hall has gigged in Trey Anastasio’s and Dave Matthews’ solo bands. Members of Dumpstaphunk - which also includes cousin Ian Neville (guitar), Nick Daniels (bass) and Raymond Webber (drums) - have played with Wild Magnolias, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Meters, Harry Connick Jr. ... the list goes on, Neville says. So even if the group is sometimes referred to as “Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk,” it’s a democracy on stage.
“Basically, we all take turns driving,” Neville says. “I’ll put it this way: Whoever’s driving, we just hang on for the ride.”
Dumpstaphunk even flips instruments; Hall switches between guitar and bass. Neville sounds almost incredulous as he admits,” There are times on stage when we got two basses going.”
Now that’s funky.
“Yeah! And it works!” Neville says. “Which is crazy. When that (stuff) works, you can’t get much nastier than that, so we love that. We love that we can do that.”
Dumpstaphunk, which formed in 2003 but didn’t start gigging seriously until 2005, has released just one album, a slamming but short five-song EP called “Listen Hear.” Neville says the group is working on a full-length CD to be released later this year.
He’s eager to get the album out, at least partly to show off two or three new funk instrumentals. The already-released EP includes one hot instrumental, “Stinky.”
“We’ve got a few more like `Stinky,’” Neville explains, chuckling. “We got a couple more `Stinkys,’ basically.”
What more could you ask from a band called Dumpstaphunk?