On Saturday night, May 7th, a decorated krewe of musicians from the Big Easy and beyond packed into The Fillmore New Orleans for Poppa Funk & The Night Tripper, a loving musical homage to the late Art Neville and Dr. John. The all-star ensemble was joined for an opening set by Trouble No More, the high-powered new outfit set on injecting fresh energy into the Allman Brothers Band legacy.
Trouble No More—featuring Brandon “Taz” Niederauer (guitar/vocals), Daniel Donato (guitar/vocals), Dylan Niederauer (bass guitar), Nikki Glaspie (drums), Peter Levin (keys), Roosevelt Collier (pedal steel guitar), and Pete Lavezzoli (drums)—was quick to show Jazz Fest revelers what fans in New York City already knew: that this new project is a force to be reckoned with. A searing “Whipping Post” led by magnetic guest vocalist Kanika Moore (Doom Flamingo) rounded out the performance, leaving the Fillmore buzzing as the next powerhouse tribute act prepared to take the stage.
Next, following its debut at the sold-out Denver Comes Alive in January 2020 and a series of pandemic-related postponements in the ensuing two years, “to heroes, by heroes” tribute project Poppa Funk & The Night Tripper finally made its way home to New Orleans. The lineup for this celebration of Art Neville and Dr. John included Art’s son, guitarist Ian Neville (Dumpstaphunk), and his nephew, Ivan Neville (Dumpstaphunk), as well as drummer Nikki Glaspie, saxophonist Skerik, vocalist/guitarist/bassist Tony Hall (Dumpstaphunk), and charismatic keyboardist Neal Francis, a noted disciple of Dr. John’s NOLA swagger.
The roster was also due to feature George Porter Jr., Art Neville’s longtime friend and collaborator in The Meters, but after he was sidelined earlier in the week by COVID-19, a slew of local friends rushed in to carry the load. In addition to the rest of Dumpstaphunk—bassist/vocalist Nick Daniels III, drummer Deven Trusclair, Alex Wasily (trombone), and Ashlin Parker (trumpet)—The Revivalists’ George Gekas (bass) came down to join in on the party.
After an introduction by Live For Live Music‘s Kunj Shah, the funky ensemble worked its way through the beloved catalogs of The Meters, Neville Brothers, and Mac Rebennack with Ivan Neville, Tony Hall, and Nick Daniels III all taking their turns embodying these legends’ iconic voices. Neal Francis provided perhaps the most uncanny recreation of the night, strolling onstage and taking a seat behind the piano to do his best Dr. John impression on memorable renditions of “Such A Night” and “Right Place, Wrong Time”.
Watch a video of Neal Francis singing Dr. John’s “Such A Night” below and scroll down to check out photo galleries of Poppa Funk & The Night Tripper and Trouble No More at The Fillmore New Orleans via Courtney Scout (Scout It Out Media).
Poppa Funk & The Night Tripper ft. Neal Francis – “Such A Night” (Dr. John) – 5/7/22
[Video: Nunupics Zomot]