When it comes to New Orleans music, the Neville family is royalty. The Meters and the Neville Brothers brought their own “Big Easy” twist to funk, R&B and soul. Their influence is still felt today and includes Dumpstaphunk who hail from the same town and are part of the same family. Ivan Neville, son of R&B and soul legend Aaron Neville, leads the band on keyboards and vocals.
On June 8 and 9, Dumpstaphunk gave two concerts in Connecticut, the first at The Warehouse in Fairfield and the second at Infinity Music Hall in Hartford.
Ivan Neville and I recently had the chance to talk about how the band started on a whim, how Hurricane Katrina affected the band’s early days, their latest album Where Do We Go From Here and a new solo album he is working on.
DR: Dumpstaphunk started on a whim in 2003 when you had a solo gig at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. From that time until today, how has the band’s sound evolved?
IN: We have grown in many ways while hanging around and still being able to do what we love, that way you grow naturally. When we started, it wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t like I was going to start a band that I thought was going to last that long, I was just trying to play a gig and wanted to do something different. The people who came together for the gig had a chemistry that was absolutely undeniable and we decided it had to be a band moving forward. Over the years, we’ve been through all kinds of things.
Being from New Orleans and what goes with it, coming from the Neville bloodline and being part of the music that came before us, being influenced and having friendships with a lot of our heroes, it helped us through some tough times. Hurricane Katrina and things of that nature, the hurricane in particular was a catalyst for us to become a full time band. We were basically a part-time band that did a great one-off gig at Jazz & Heritage Festival and then went on to play a few more gigs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and Jam Cruise in 2006 and 2007 respectively. . After that, it was cemented in our hearts and souls that this was a band and it had to keep going. Just going through life the way you go through it over the years, you’re blessed enough to hang around, keep waking up, and have the opportunity to play music to put smiles on people’s faces, dance a little, and you can’t help but evolve.
Creatively, our influences merged and became part of what we do. That’s what I really like about the sound of our band, you can hear stuff and some little hints of different things like The Meters, Sly & The Family Stone and Parliament-Funkadelic and others. These three bands are very influential to us, especially The Meters as they are friends and family. You appreciate the fact that when you listen to your music you hear those influences but you also hear the originality that comes from this group of guys. We absorbed our influences and it stands out, but it feels like a new reimagining of all these different types of music.
DR: Before you started Dumpstaphunk, you had a reputable solo career with four albums under your own name, you had a hit single with Bonnie Raitt called “Falling Out Of Love” in the late 80s, and you did other things. What do you think is the biggest difference between Dumpstaphunk’s sound and the music you were making as a solo artist before the band started?
IN: I guess the most obvious difference is that Dumpstaphunk is a band and right now we have seven people in the band. Myself, Tony Hall, my cousin Ian Neville and Nick Daniels III are the original guys with Deven Trusclair on drums, Alex Wasily on trombone and Ashlin Parker on trumpet. When you are with a group and have multiple opinions, we take turns driving within that framework. When I do my own stuff, these guys play on it and I actually worked on a solo project that they’re going to be on. The difference is that my creative process as a writer when writing by myself is a different mindset and a different environment.
That’s usually what separates the two processes, me doing solo stuff versus what I do with the band. It’s pretty obvious when you think about it, you have a group of people who all have strong opinions and then you have me sitting in a room all by myself writing a song. It’s a different game.
DR: Just over a year ago Dumpstaphunk released their latest album Where Do We Go From Here which is the band’s first release in eight years and it has guest appearances from Trombone Shorty, Marcus King & Chali 2na du Jurassic 5. experience like making the album after such a long time since your previous release while involving Shorty, Marcus and Chali?
IN: We made this record piecemeal where we made pieces over several years. We didn’t go into the studio and just sat there for a couple of weeks or a month to make this record, we took pieces over a number of years as I said. When we got to the pandemic it ended up being ok, we have all this music and now we have some time, so let’s finish what we’ve been working on. This song has potential, this one is good but it needs a little work so let’s work on this stuff, get it done. That’s basically what happened, we had enough material to make a record, so we improved it and made it sound good to see what we could do with it.
We called Trombone Shorty and then we got Chali 2na who we knew so it seemed like a good idea to have him collaborate with us as well as Marcus. We had been introduced to Marcus recently and that’s basically it. It’s cool when you have friends who come to help you and contribute to your project. It’s cool to be able to do this stuff and we absolutely appreciate these relationships with great musicians and great people.
DR: Speaking of great musicians, what was it like contributing keyboards to the Rolling Stones on their Dirty Work and Voodoo Lounge albums while being part of Keith Richards’ one-man band, the X-Pensive Winos, in the late 80s and into the mid 90s?
IN: It’s some of my favorite stuff I’ve ever done. Playing with Keith and playing on those records with The Stones was pretty cool. In fact, on Dirty Work, I played bass on one song.
IN: Yeah, I played bass on a track called “Hold Back” and that’s probably my all-time favorite credit to tell you the truth. Being part of Voodoo Lounge was obviously an honor and a privilege, I also sang some backing vocals on it and it was a fun time. Playing with Keith when he did Talk Is Cheap and Main Offender while we were touring as X-Pensive Winos, next to Dumpstaphunk, this band is probably my favorite band I’ve ever played with. It was just crazy, we actually performed together not too long ago last year at Love Rocks NYC at the Beacon Theatre.
DR: I heard about it.
IN: We trampled it, man. It was a good time and I’m honored, I’m honored to have been able to play on some Stones records and to play with Keith. It’s stuff you want to do, it’s stuff you dream of doing. I have to do some of it, I’m happy about it and I hope I can do more.
DR: I hope you will do more too. You mentioned earlier how you are working on a new solo album, so are you planning to release it later this year or next year?
IN: I would say maybe one or two or three could hit the airwaves before long. The album will probably be released next year.
The Warehouse, Fairfield
Wednesday, June 8
Doors open at 7 p.m.
Infinity Music Hall, Hartford
Thursday June 9
Tickets $28 – $35
Doors open at 7 p.m.