It’s been 10 years now, since Ivan Neville first put together Dumpstaphunk and this band is showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Though mostly a local treasure when they first started, this band has since gone on to perform major concerts at festivals and venues all over the country, drawing fans to the dancefloor and kicking up quite a buzz. With Ivan’s soulful vocals, not to mention great backup vocals by the other bandmembers, the dueling bass rumble of Nick Daniel’s and Tony Hall, both Neville Bros alums and two of the most sought-after bassists in town, the rhythmic guitar chank of Ian Neville, and the pulsing drumbeats of Nikki Glaspie, who took over the sticks in Dumpstaphunk from the incredible fonky Raymond Weber, its hard not to get down and groove to this band They started out as the quintessential New Orleans funk band of the early-mid 2000’s, with most of their repertoire drawing from the rich canon of songs penned by Ivan and Ian’s fathers while in the Neville Brothers and the Meters, who were also the former employers of bassists Nick Daniels and Tony Hall. Then they would throw in some Parliament-Funkadelic covers and some Sly and the Family Stone, and maybe a few other funk staples outside of the New Orleans catalogue, then throw in a few originals. But in recent years, the group has focused more on songwriting, having their own original repertoire, which most of their fans seem to welcome with open arms and shined-up dancing shoes. Their sound changed a bit with the arrival of Nikki Glaspie on drums, she’s an in-demand musician on the east coast, not a Louisiana native like the rest of the band, but fully equipped to lay down the funk nonetheless. It seems like since she joined, the group has moved a bit past the idiosyncrasies of syncopated New Orleans R&B, where the drummer hits on the 2 and the 4, and created a more rock-infused funk sound, more along the lines of Funkadelic and Sly then the Meters or Neville Bros. The music still gets a dancefloor shaking though, that’s for sure. They sound a bit more modern now, and being the masterful musicians that they are, they’ve earned the right to switch things up.
Dumpstaphunk has definitely been overdue for another studio record of original material and Dirty Word was worth the wait. Its 11 tracks of hard-hitting funk that comes out the gate hot and finishes just as strong. Though the band has changed some in their evolution they still retain their Nola sound as they search for new grooves, its too ingrained in them not to. “Dancin To The Truth” kicks off the record, with the guitar and basses playing a funky riff in unison for the song’s head, before sinking back into a deep pocket. Numerous members pipe up on the vocals, giving it a contrapuntal harmony that is reminiscent of early P-Funk, which is as much the basis of Dumpstaphunk’s sound as the Meters are, and this record proves it, more than ever. The album’s title track, Dirty Word, comes out strong and pulses with rhythm for 3 minutes before the vocals kick-in, supplied courtesy of Miss Ani Difranco, whose husband mixed the record. The song was originally recorded as an instrumental, but Ani heard it and was so taken by it that she wrote and recorded her own vocals to surprise the band with, and she fit right in. “I Wish You Would” is another nasty little number featuring some killer horn parts by Trombone Shorty and Skerik that makes it hard not to blow out one’s speakers every time it comes on. The vocals are more an afterthought on this one as the musical arrangements are so powerful they don’t need much else, just a few raspy lines from Ivan, shouted in key, and the track takes off. One of the few covers on the record is by Betty Davis (backed by Sly Stone’s band on original), the song “If I’m In Luck” which the band does a masterful job of reinterpreting; Nikki Glaspie takes the lead vocals on this tune and does ol’ Betty Davis justice. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea adds a third bassline to this song, another example of how high the regard this group is held in by their fellow musicians, from New Orleans and beyond. With many great cuts in between the album bows out with “Raise The Roof”, a powerfully upbeat tune which sees Dumpstaphunk joined by Art Neville, Trombone Shorty and Rebirth Brass Band. This track, sounds the most “New Orleansy” of the entire record and rightfully so, as they welcome fellow local musicians of the same legendary caliber as themselves. The horns soar and the syncopated vocals make the listener feel as though they’re sitting in the middle of an epic houseparty on Valence Street, Uptown, home of the Nevilles. All in all, there’s not a bad song on this record, the funk does not let up, period. I’m happy to see Dumpstaphunk harness the incredible energy of their live shows on this album and their fans, new, old and future, will surely feel the same way. The record dropped yesterday, 7/30 with an album release party tonight, 7/31 at the legendary Maple Leaf Bar. Which will no doubt prove as the perfect launch pad for this smokin’ new “jurnt”! So ya’ll head over to Oak Street tonight and throw one back for ol’ Soul Stu, I’ll be there in spirit and chomping at the bit for Dumpstaphunk to give NYC a taste of their Dirty Word.