Papa Grows Funk

Idle Monday nights led to a full-time gig for John "Papa" Gros. In 2000, Gros launched an informal New Orleans funk jam into a seven year residency at the Maple Leaf Bar and New Orleans' hottest funk/jamband, Papa Grows Funk.

Papa Grows Funk has four albums - 2001's Doin' It, 2003's Shakin', 2006's Live at the Leaf, and the new 2007 release Mr. Patterson's Hat - and 200 shows annually on a touring circuit that extends from coast to coast in the US to Europe and Japan. PGF songs have turned up during broadcasts of Major League Baseball's World Series and the National Basketball Association finals.

"It's taken on a life of its own," Gros says. "We've found that there's a market for what we do, and it seems to keep getting bigger and bigger." Gros is joined by guitarist June Yamagishi, saxophonist Jason Mingledorff, bassist Marc Pero, and drummer Jeffrey "Jellybean" Alexander, who replaced original drummer Russell Batiste in 2005. A typical set may include Mardi Gras funk, New Orleans classics like "Sea Cruise" or "Hey Pocky Way," original material, and improvised jams. And they never work from a set list.

"All the tapers who record us always want to know what songs we play," Gros said. "I tell them to send me a copy (of the tape) and I'll e-mail the list, because I have no idea. We've spent seven years working on our musical communication onstage, so it's at a high level. We don't practice a lot, we don't talk about it. But when we're playing, everybody's completely into what's happening at the moment. We've turned five great individual musicians into one great band."

Home Town: 
New Orleans, LA
South East