Anyone who is a true fan of the funk, extensive jamming or 1970s heavy metal shredding, should have been in attendance at Dumpstaphunk’s “A Throwback Phunksgiving” on November 26th at BB Kings Blues Club. The band’s eclectic fusion of New Orleans Funk and impressive instrumental experimentation is not something to be laughed at – the band’s energy and synchronicity is both mystifying and captivating.
The New Orleans quintet paired with special guests Eric Krasno, Todd Stoops, Brandon “Taz” Neiderauer and the three-piece Steeltown Horns created a truly special and unique experience. The overwhelming harmony displayed among the musicians was breathtaking, and everyone who graced the stage was visibly having a blast. All the artists who contributed to the performance had a seemingly well-established rapport with each other – even those who weren’t permanent members of the band. Even though the event began relatively late and included a DJ set from DJ Quickie Mart and two full sets by the band, there were funky humans of all ages participating in a serious boogiedown.
DJ Quickie Mart began promptly at 9:00, with a throwback mix of Soul, Jazz, Funk, and even some Reggae. The New Orleans native started the set off nice and easy, slowly raising the energy piece by piece and attracting those at the bar down to the dancefloor. The DJs mixing was impressive, and he managed to fit in quite a few songs into his hour long set, playing 1-2 minute clips of each track. At one point he played fan favorite “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder and then teased Billy Squier’s “Break Beat” into “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green. The DJs ability to hop back and forth between genres while maintaining tempo and keeping the crowd enthralled and entertained was moving, making him a very formidable opener for Dumpstaphunk. DJ Quickie Mart also played versions of “Could You Be Loved” by Bob Marley and “Iko Iko” by The Dixie Cups – there was a little bit for everyone out there, with kids as young as 5 and adults as old as 60 sharing the dance floor.
Dumpstaphunk opened their first set of the night with “I Wish You Would,” a ferocious medley of slappin’ bass and astonishingly syncopated support from the Steeltown Horns. The trio includes a trumpeter, a trombonist and a saxophonist, and the horns truly shined during the opening song, howling throughout the venue. The band has been together for over 10 years (save the current Drummer), forming in 2003, and this is inherently clear during their set. Not only do the band members trade solos and rhythms, constantly feeding off of each other, but they even traded instruments! Keyboardist and Frontman Ivan Neville hopped out of his seat during “Meanwhile” and picked up an electric guitar, and throughout the set Tony Hall was switching between a bass and an electric guitar.
The entire band is filled with incredibly talented musicians, each with their own unique style and flavor. While Ivan Neville was up and shredding, keyboardist Todd Stoops joined the band on Keys, and Ivan was feeding him the notes as they jammed. The spontaneous addition of Stoops and the effortless inclusion of him on “Meanwhile” truly showcased the bands improvisational aptitude. The entire first set was strictly Dumpstaphunk material, with no special guests – this gave the band an opportunity to show the members of the audience what they’re all about. The massive double bass duo of Tony Hall and Nick Daniels, the animated intensity of Ivan Neville’s agile fingers, and the concentration you can literally feel from Ian Neville are what sets Dumpstaphunk apart from any other act.
Brushing off the first set as a run of the mill Dumpstaphunk set would be a mistake – the band took showgoers on a journey through the ups and downs of Funk, including both mellow grooves like “I Know You Know” and lively, high-energy tracks such as “Gasman Chronicles.” The band closed the set with “Put It In The Dumpster,” a phenomenal singalong anthem that uses call and response to incorporate the energy of the audience into the show. Hearing the entire crowd holler the lyrics back at the band with as much enthusiasm and exuberance as the musicians on stage was a telltale sign that Dumpstaphunk was achieving their goal of providing listeners with a vibrant, spirited and interactive performance.
After a short set break, Dumpstaphunk reappeared to begin their 1970’s throwback set. They opened with Rick James’ “Bustin’ Out” with the Steeltown Horns, and an immense dance party broke out right away. The bands first set was succinctly performed and extraordinarily impassioned, but the addition of the special guests paired with a slue of legendary covers made the second set quite remarkable. After “Bustin’ Out” and Pleasure’s “Glide,” audience members were treated to renditions of “Rock Steady” by Aretha Franklin and “Tell Me Something Good” by Rufus & Chaka Khan with female vocalist Nicki Richards, a special guest not billed on the concert flyers. Pipes that can keep up with Aretha & Chaka are few and far between, but Richards got on stage and tore it up with eloquent renditions of each song. The singers voice was boisterous and bellowing, yet somehow mollifying as well – a charming combination that went perfectly with the two artists she was covering.
As Richards left the stage, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, 11-year-old wunderkind joined Dumpstaphunk, adding yet another guitar into the mix. This is when things really got out of hand. Taz came out (along with Todd Stoops on Keys) for “Fencewalk” by Mandrill, and began to demonstrate his stunning capabilities with the electric guitar. The kid is truly a monster on the strings and had little to no problem keeping up with those he shared the stage with. He didn’t need any instruction from the boys, his skills were ostensibly intrinsic, as if he has been playing since he came out of the womb (which probably isn’t far from the truth).
However, it was during “Funk #49” by James Gang that the Taz’s capabilities were fully explored. Everything down to his facial expressions were authentic, and reminiscent of musicians more than twice his age. And then he started soloing… Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE stopped dancing and just watched. Everyone in the crowd, everyone on stage, took a step back to admire Taz’s extemporizations. Tony Hall looked shocked and couldn’t stop smiling. Taz stole the entire show, and maybe it was in part because of his age, but theres no question – that kid can shred, and he needed no guidance to do so. After this quick foray into the mind of an 11 year old, the prodigal guitarist left the stage and the boys of Dumpstaphunk were joined by Eric Krasno, another exceptionally talented musician.
Eric Krasno knows funk guitar. He’s been playing with funk band Lettuce for over twenty years, and it shows. Krasno’s stage presence is very slight – he doesn’t hop around and he rarely speaks on stage. Rather than create a persona for himself, he closes his eyes and plays guitar, and it is always a treat to hear him noodle. He joined the gang for “For the Love of Money” by the O’Jays, which was a familiar style for him to play, but where he really stood out was during “What Is and What Should Never Be.” Hearing Eric Krasno play Led Zeppelin was incredible, and seeing him step out of his funky comfort zone and play some metal with just as much passion was extremely gratifying, especially for an avid Lettuce fan. After Krasno left, the rest of the set consisted of classic funky covers from Parliament Funkadelic, the Meters, and Sly & The Family Stone. The night was not one to be missed – witnessing Dumpstaphunk perform fresh renditions of their old tracks along with their own versions of classic 1970s music was a once in a lifetime experience that could not be replicated.
Here are the setlists:
Set 1 (Originals):
I Wish You Would w/ Steeltown Horns
I Know You Know w/ Steeltown Horns
Meanwhile w/ Steeltown Horns & Todd Stoops
Water w/ Steeltown Horns
Dancin to the Truth
Raise the House w/ Steeltown Horns
Put It in the Dumpsta w/ Steeltown Horns
Set 2 (Covers):
Bustin’ Out (Rick James) w/ Steeltown Horns
Glide (Pleasure) w/ Steeltown Horns
Rock Steady (Aretha Franklin) w/ Steeltown Horns & Nicki Richards
Tell Me Something Good (Rufus & Chaka Khan) w/ Steeltown Horns & Nicki Richards
Fencewalk (Mandrill) w/ Todd Stoops & Brandon “Taz” Niederauer
Funk #49 (James Gang) w/ Brandon “Taz” Niederauer
For the Love of Money (The O’Jays) w/ Steeltown Horns & Eric Krasno
What Is and What Should Never Be (Led Zeppelin) w/ Steeltown Horns & Eric Krasno
Dr. Funkenstein (Parliament Funkadelic) w/ Steeltown Horns & Todd Stoops
Mothership Connection (Parliament Funkadelic) w/ Steeltown Horns
People Say (The Meters) w/ Steeltown Horns
Thank You [Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin] (Sly & The Family Stone) w/ Steeltown Horns