Dumpstaphunk stands out as being one of the funkiest bands to come out of New Orleans, and that’s saying something. Descended from Neville family bloodlines, these soldiers of funk combine ingenious musicianship and complex funk and jazz arrangements with soulful melodies that are simple enough for anyone to enjoy. Tony Hall, Nick Daniels III, Ivan Neville, Ian Neville and Alvin Ford Jr. will share New Orleans with every note when they hit the stage at Bluesfest 2018. Ian Neville graciously agreed to chat with us from his home in The Big Easy.
He immediately launches into a lovefest about Australia.
“I don’t say I could live in a lot of places that aren’t here, but Australia is one of them,” he announces in a laid-back drawl.
“I got off the plane and it was hot as hell and really humid, so it felt like home.”
While the guys have toured Australia a few times previously, the 2018 visit will be only their second appearance on the Bluesfest stages, having wowed crowds and organisers there previously at the last event with their tight, partly-improvised live party sets. We discuss the unique blend of tunes and crowds that make Bluesfest a must-go for music lovers.
“Yes, I’d heard lots about Bluesfest before going for the first time,” Ian says.
“We thought it was great. It was so laid back, and music-focussed, which is always the best idea for a festival.”
We talk about the style of funk that Dumpstaphunk produces, which to me sounds just like a classic mix of Parliament and James Brown, but which I’d also heard described as progressive funk. I admit I don’t know what that means, and ask Ian if he can explain it.
“I don’t know what that means either!” he laughs.
“We’re just a funk band that fuses in rock and blues and soul and some kind of hip-hop element – we draw from everywhere. Funk actually creeps up in all kinds of other music.”
New Orleans is well known for its profusion of talented musicians and unique blend of cultures. I ask Ian what it is that he personally loves so much about it.
“New Orleans is definitely not like anywhere else on the planet,” he says.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to get to travel and I would still love to live here. It’s the way that everything affects each other here; the food affects the music, and that affects the way people like to hang out in the city and the overall culture and the way it boils up together – nobody else does it.”
Of course it’s hard to have a conversation about New Orleans with a long-time local, without checking in about the city’s status post-Katrina. Ian takes a positive stance.
“It’s not anywhere like it used to be; some for better some for worse.”
“I’m a personal fan of progress and forward momentum and whatnot. Overall the city’s in a better place that I feel like it probably would be if that hadn’t happened. We’ll never know. It’s just spurred progress and development.
“We’re always the last, you know, we’re from the south in the states, the slower part of the country to catch on to things. New Orleans is the oldest city in the country so we’re set in our ways. We managed to find a way to step up the progress to more relevant times without losing the soul that was the city as it was originally known.”
The group is in the process of recording their first album since 2013’s ‘Dirty Word’.
“We’ve been working on our new record and a lot of that is on the verge of being finished; loose ends and decisions, which tend to be the hardest part. We should have some stuff pretty soon. We’ll definitely have some sneak previews for the Bluesfest audience.”
To be a part of that audience over 29 March to 2 April, visit bluesfest.com.au.