A common misconception about funk music is that the style is all nostalgia and not contemporary. Many of the founders of the form are still performing today such as George Clinton, George Porter Jr., Leo Nocentelli, or Art Neville. Though the founders are still a big part of the funk scene its best to think of funk as a sensibility rather than something definitive or solidified. The undisputed family of funk that have stood the test of time, continuing to produce quality new music are the Nevilles. Art was a co-founder of The Meters, a revolutionary band the pioneered the funk sound. Side-by-side with Parliament Funkadelic these two bands created modern funk music, an agreement of jazz, world and soul music that inevitably created a formula for hip-hop and DJ sampling. Perhaps the family is best known for the Neville Brothers project that has spanned over three decades. As the founding fathers of funk age on, more collaborations and projects have emerged with varying levels of success. One of the biggest surprises out of recent funk endevours is Dumpstaphunk, pioneered by Neville Brother Ivan. His souring vocals have only strengthened over the years and his work on organ and piano is majorly influential to the funk movement.
The success of Dumpstaphunk lies not only in their collective ability as connected musicians of a high caliber, but the strange instrumentation that creates their sound. Two bassists, a rhythm bassist and a lead bassist (either of the two take on different roles depending on the moment) with a powerhouse lady-drummer alongside guitarist and brother Ian Neville comprise Dumpstaphunk. Bassists Tony Hall and Nick Daniels III set the rhythmic backbone that works off of drummer Nikki Glaspie’s charismatic leads. With all but Ian taking on vocal duties, Dumpstaphunk has a real teamwork ethic bringing together a sincere progression in funk music. The band has built their own identity separate from Neville fame by playing festivals and theaters since the mid-2000s and crowds all around continue to support their music. I have personally seen the band grow from a bold concept to a full time tour and had a strong opinion of the quintet going into their Fox Theatre show in Boulder this last Thursday. Their opener was local funk/jam outfit Euforquestra who set the mood right for Dumpstaphunk to take the stage for a solid headliner set.
Though the band has a new album in the works and was playing relatively new songs, I felt I had heard much of their set at previous shows. The vibe was strong and the full venue was dancing their ass off to various grooves. I can’t stress enough the talents of Nikki Glaspie whose strong vocal contributions accompanied some forefront rhythmic aptness. Ivan himself is humbled as a bandleader, never taking credit for the talents of his cohorts but always exhibiting qualities of a true front man. His signature vocals set the bar high for the rest of the band. One of my favorite qualities about Dumpstaphunk is their great vocals across the board. Since funk is about rhythm, all of these tight characteristics qualify the band as quintessential modern funk music. Supporting the band into their summer tour will surely bring new songs are arrangements to the continued pleasure of their loyal fans. Stay tuned for great things from these guys.