Either I don’t know the Tuesday night crowd or I don’t know the Dumpstaphunk crowd because I didn’t recognize hardly anyone at The Pour House Tuesday night. Until later that is. I guess I know the late night crowd. Apparently the show almost didn’t happen due to some transmission trouble with the van. They pulled up and loaded in right about the time the doors were supposed to open. Luckily it takes more than car trouble to stop the funk. It was decent sized crowd for a Tuesday night but I expected more with the B’roo & JazzFest performances and the WSP opening spot.
Dumpstaphunk, for those of you who don’t know, are a funktified New Orleams 5 piece fronted by Ivan Neville (keyboards, guitar, vocals) of Neville Brothers fame. Other members include Tony Hall (guitar, bass, vocals), Raymond Weber (drums, vocals), Nick Daniels (bass, vocals) and Ian Neville (guitar) another of the approximately 1,000 members of the Neville family. They adroitly avoid the trap of being a one dimensional “New Orleans sound” band and put out some take no prisoners hard rocking funk.
Not being extremely familiar with their repertoire I can’t give you a setlist. I do know that at they played Turn Dis Thing Around, Put It in Da Dumpsta, Living in a World Gone Mad, Deeper and Deeper, Woke Up This Morning (Sopranos Theme Song), War’s Slippin’ Into Darkness, Steve Miller’s Fly Like an Eagle and a great rendition of the Sly & the Family Stone classic Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).
What I do know is that the first song was an Ivan Neville rocker that caught me by surprise at how intensely they played and jammed. It had the dial turned up to 10 and they kept it there the whole night. Unfortunately they never took it all the way to eleven. After a while the 10 started to sound like a 9 and then an 8 and… It really was solid high rev music that didn’t let up but never had any of those breakout moments. Neville’s keyboards are thick and viscous (the easy metaphor would be to say it was like gumbo or red beans which it is but I won’t say that) and his voice has the exact amount of soul gravel in it to make it believable. Raymond Weber’s drumming was the propulsive force behind the whole show. Strong, rhythmic and relentless. He did blow out a snare drum head, which threw a spanner in the works for a few minutes. Matter of fact they seemed to have more than the usual amount of glitches. It was probably due to the late arrival. Tony Hall split his time fairly evenly between guitar and bass. He also carried a third of the lead vocals. His lead guitar work was surprisingly aggressive for a typical funk band and is what gives Dumpstaphunk their hard rock edge. Nick Danials plays two different styles of bass. When Tony Hall is playing guitar Nick plays a nice big fat greasy bass line. When both Tony and Nick are playing bass things get a little more complicated. That’s right I said when they are both playing bass. When I saw it happening I thought they were going to go stratospheric but in reality the intensity remained the same (still at 10) but the dynamics changed. And that is where Ian Neville and his Telecaster come into play. I’m not sure if his Tele is a vintage model or not but it sure was a fine looking guitar. While Tony is playing guitar Ian and his wah-wah pedal are mostly filling the air with medicated goo. He would occasionally let his shred loose but mainly stayed deferential to Tony’s lead. When the twin bass attack commenced he naturally stepped to the forefront and had his best solos of the evening. Then the bass playing started to shine. The best and darkest jamming of the night was when the basses were playing leads off each other, Ian’s low register wah-wah was milking the goo and Ivan had a the Leslie cabinets throbbing all steam engined along by Weber’s propulsive drumming. A really unique low end jam with tiny accents of keys.
Toward midnight players started leaving the stage and then there were just two left up there. You guessed it, the bass players. It resulted in a very cool give and take exchange between the two of them. It was like a conversation between two old friends. But friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while. And maybe were fast talking New Yorkers. And were talking about a third friend who had some strange ideas about the nature of ball lightning or… Ok, I’ve gone too far now. But it was really cool anyways. Toward the very end and in lieu of a set break there was a Raymond Weber drum solo. It turned out to be a entertaining one at that. The drumming was more than proficient, the length was just long enough and it petered out in a most amusing manner. The band got a laugh out of it if nothing else. The end of the show was when we got to hear Ivan come off the keys and pick up his Stratocaster. The two guitar, two bass config was what gave us the version of Thank You. All in all a very satisfying evening of funkdamonium.
- By Jeff McClellan