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Dumpstaphunk: Where Do We Go from Here
by George Graham
(Mascot Label Group as broadcast on WVIA-FM 6/9/2021)
With much of the commercial music scene dominated by electronic computer-sequenced pop, good old fashioned human-performed funk music is making a comeback, at least in terms of the number of interesting new recordings. Some are by emerging artists including from Europe and elsewhere, and we also also have some long-time funk practitioners delving into the sound with recent recordings. This time, we have a new release by a classic-style funk band from New Orleans, Dumpstafunk, whose new recording is called Where Do We Go from Here.
Dumpstaphunk has been around for some 17 years; the group’s cousin co-founders have a sterling pedigree. Keyboard man and main lead vocalist Ivan Neville, is the son of the late New Orleans legend Aaron Neville of the Meters and the Neville Brothers. The other co-founder is guitarist Ian Neville, who is the son of Art Neville, of the same bands. Other members include bassist Tony Hall, who in the funk tradition often drives the music with his popping bass lines; Nick Daniels III is on vocals and also on bass in places. Deven Truesclair is on drums, with Alvin Ford Jr. on drums for some of the tracks, plus a pair of horns, trombonist Alex Wasily and trumpeter Ryan Nyther. The album also includes some guest appearances by veteran rock studio guitarist Waddy Wachtel, another New Orleanian Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, and young blues rock sensation Marcus King.
Where Do We Go from Here is the band’s fourth album, since their debut in 2007. The material is a mix of instrumentals and vocals. In the tradition of groups like Sly and the Family Stone, the lyrics often offer some social commentary. The group also covers a tune from the 1960s by drummer Buddy Miles, as well as one from Sly and the Family Stone. The group managed to keep the groove strong, through tunes with different textures, which also adds to album’s strength.
The generous hour-long plus album opens with the cover of the Buddy Miles tune United Nations Stomp which features Marcus King on guitar. The lyrics definitely evoke the late 1960s-1970s vibe. <<>>
The first of the originals is Make It After All, written by bassist Nick Daniels, and his bass work is front and center, with the epitome of a great funk groove. <<>>
One of several instrumentals on the album is Backwash a slower tune but with a deep groove, punctuated by the horns. <<>>
Dumpstaphunk is also something of a jam band. The latter attribute is on display on the original title track Where Do We Go From Here, which has a kind of Gospel-influenced quality at the outset. <<>> Before the horns get a chance to jam out. <<>>
Another strong instrumental is Itchy Boo, an original by the band -- another extended track that gives the band a chance to jam. <<>>
About the only track that I don’t think works well is the Dumpstaphunk’s cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s In Time which comes off as a little herky jerky rhythmically. <<>>
The album ends with a remake of a song the band released as a single in 2017, called Justice, which brings in the social commentary facet of the band. <<>> Trombone Shorty makes another guest appearance. <<>>
Where Do We Go from Here the new fourth album from Dumpstaphunk, and their first since 2013, is a great example of the revival of classic funk, played by real musicians serving up an irresistible groove. The band’s founders, the sons of Aaron and Art Neville of the Neville Brothers, are carrying on a New Orleans tradition with a second generation. The group generally keeps it interesting, with more than just a strong beat, but with different textures, and beats from straight funk to more rock oriented. There are some instrumental tracks, the guest appearances add spice, and the group’s lyrics echo some of the soul and funk of the past with some social commentary.
Our grade for sound quality is a “B.” This was not meant as an audiophile recording, but the sound could have been a little cleaner, with some of the instrumentation and vocals sounding somewhat overdriven. But the overall sound is strong and punchy.
Retro music seems to be very much in evidence these days. Dumpstaphunk channels classic funk from nearly 50 years ago and adds their own twists for an entertaining, danceable album.
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