February 23rd at Revolution Hall started off just as any other Saturday night-plenty of familiar friendly faces‚ and a slew of unknown‚ but all the same friendly faces; the crowd's anticipation for a night of great fun and excellent tunes; and‚ as always‚ good brew. But it wasn't just any night at Rev Hall. No‚ no. Its guests had in store for them a night of incredible funk straight from the home of funk itself‚ the heart of Louisiana-New Orleans (with each musician throughout the night bearing musical cojones big enough to fill New Orleans!).
Sam Kininger got the night started‚ kicking off with Soulive's "Tuesday Night Squad." Sam's band provided an energetic performance‚ with Amy Bowles playing soulfully on Ivan Neville's Hammond B-3 organ. Aaron Bellamy laid down funky complementary bass grooves throughout. Leading into "New York #1‚" drummer Nicki Glaspie had the audience mesmerized with her solo. Off of their new album‚ they played a new favorite of mine‚ "Time to Be Out‚" with hints of hip-hop drum beats cleverly superimposed throughout this catchy tune. A nice additional flavor was guitarist John Notto‚ as Sam's band usually plays sans guitar. Sam and his crew didn't let up for a hot second‚ keeping their dancers busy and begging for more by the end of the set.
All funked up and ready to go‚ Dumpstaphunk graced the stage to an audience eagerly awaiting what they had to offer. And what they had to offer was not only a heavy instrumental section‚ but also a heavy political message. With some of its members suffering the consequences of Hurricane Katrina and having had to relocate‚ this is a band that has firsthand experience about the faultiness of some of our…. ahem…. esteemed "leaders." The audience cheered in agreement as bassist Nick Daniels asked of us‚ "What about the people walkin' the streets‚ ain't got nowhere to stay? We gotta help them people out!" And later adding on‚ "Bush didn't help them‚ Cheney didn't help them."
To say that Dumpstaphunk is filled with accomplished musicians with extraordinary credentials would be a vast understatement. Dumpstaphunk was unsurprisingly jam-packed full of energy and grooves so thick and heavy you couldn't help but dance. Front-man Ivan Neville mustered up rich‚ vibrant‚ ever-present jams throughout the set. Ivan's younger cousin Ian ripped up the guitar all night‚ while drummer Raymond Weber held the beat together on drums. One of the unique aspects of this band is the fact that they have two bass players ever-present with slick grooves: Nick Daniels and Tony Hall.
Dumpstaphunk's musicians have shared the stage with many legendary figures. Ivan and Ian‚ the sons of Aaron and Art Neville respectively‚ seemed to play their instruments flawlessly as though they'd been doing so since the day they took their first breath (and being born into such a musical family‚ I'm sure they have!). Ian has played with the likes of Soulive‚ Galactic‚ and the North Mississippi Allstars‚ while a conservative sample of the impressive list of bands Ivan's played with include The Rolling Stones‚ Bonnie Raitt‚ Gov't Mule‚ and John Mayer. Nick also has played with some impressive colleagues‚ including Etta James and Boz Scaggs. Keeping in line with this trend‚ Raymond has played with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Indians. And lastly‚ it comes as no surprise that‚ likewise‚ Tony has played with musicians such as Trey Anastasio and Dave Matthews. It's no wonder these boys know their way around a good funk groove pocket!
Throughout the evening‚ Dumpstaphunk and their fans continued their exploratory travels through the funky trance we were engulfed in. Opinions of our current state of affairs continued to peek their way through in songs such as‚ "Livin' in a World Gone Mad" and "Meanwhile." Following this was a superbad double-take dead on the heavy funk of James Brown‚ with "Soul Power" into "Superbad‚" with Sam sitting in on sax. Ending off a powerful set‚ they morphed into a soulfully funky version of The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil." They finished off just as strongly as they started with "Shake It Off." And with that‚ they exited stage left‚ only to have the audience begin chanting P-Funk's "We Want the Funk!" hoping to entice an encore. And what an encore they did! Dumpstaphunk returned with Sam in tow. Amy could be seen in the audience‚ groovin' to the music‚ until she was summoned to the stage. With Amy on keys‚ Ivan took center stage next to his cousin on second guitar‚ and they whipped out their version of Sly Stone's "Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin." Shortly following‚ Nicki returned to take over the drums‚ with Aaron on bass‚ followed by a new member to the stage‚ Trevor Brooks on the keys.
The quiet after-hours in the cozy and intimate small-city venue allowed for an atmosphere conducive to the musicians socializing with the shadows of the audience left. With a chance to personally shake the hand of every band member‚ I was truly honored‚ and left feeling more enlightened than I had when I arrived. And as the night came to its conclusion‚ it would seem that a funky good time was had by all.