The Neville family may be synonymous with New Orleans funk, but these days, the name carries plenty of weight around Southern California, too. Ivan Neville, the son of Aaron Neville, became a mainstay at The Mint in Mid-City Los Angeles due to his holiday shows with Dragon Smoke, the result of a “superjam” at the 2003 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. He and his first cousin Ian Neville, son of Art “Poppa Funk” Neville, have made plenty of headway together in L.A. with Dumpstaphunk, another group that came together at Jazz Fest 18 years ago.
In years past, seeing these Neville cousins and their funky bunch in Dumpstaphunk at a venue like the Teragram Ballroom—where they played, with support from Orgone and Dagnastapus on the most famed and funky 21st night of September—would’ve hardly been out of the ordinary, albeit wholly celebrated.
But these are no ordinary times. Nor is Dumpstaphunk the same band that it was the last time it took the stage in the City of Angels.
Sure, the lineup looked the same. The Nevilles were once again flanked by singer-guitarist-bassist Tony Hall and singer-bassist Nick Daniels. Those original ‘phunkers jammed out a-plenty, with Alex Wasily and Ryan Nyther holding it down on brass while drummer Devin Trusclair kept a beat well worth getting down to.
The band tapped into a classic cache of covers, from Blackmail’s “Let’s Get At It” and Sly and the Family Stone’s “In Time” to Buddy Miles’ “United Nations Stomp” and the all-too-timely Tower of Power tune, “Soul Vaccination.”
Indeed, this was, is, and likely will be a more conscious and conscientious group than ever before. Recent seismic shifts—be they in the California faultlines beneath Dumpstaphunk’s feet or the ones that have been shaking the world at large for nearly two years—aren’t solely responsible for the soulful and social spirit that suffuses their latest release, Where Do We Go From Here? After all, there was “Justice” before 2020, and dalliances with “Do You” in days long past.
In truth, Dumpstaphunk’s consciousness had already been codified in their catalogue, but never contextualized as a collective message quite like on their new album.
What’s changed—or, rather, grown—about Dumpstaphunk, in the more than seven years since 2013’s Dirty Word, is that all the tracks that now comprise the core of their setlists became so. That a collection of songs recorded for a drop during a historic time became the voice of a band that, in some respects, has been jamming for generations.
One thing that truly has changed, though? Ivan’s stance on gumbo. After years of refusing to consume the Louisiana state cuisine outside of his own family’s kitchen, this particular Neville admitted to finding a version worth raving about, in this L.A., courtesy of Stevie’s Creole Cafe.