"Livin' Ina World Gone Mad" from the album Listen Hear
"Meanwhile..." from the album Listen Hear
Ivan Neville doesn't say no very often. As a lifelong musician (he's the son of legendary vocalist Aaron Neville), he's lent his piano skills to everyone from The Rolling Stones and The Meters to Don Henley and Paula Abdul.
"When you have a chance to play and get paid, why not do it, you know what I'm saying?" asks Neville. "I've loved playing with most of the artists I've played with. It's a blessing."
Over the last few years, Neville has opted to focus his attention primarily on his group, Dumpstaphunk, "because it seemed to be the most fun band to play with." His crew includes cousin Ian Neville on guitar and veterans of The Meters and The Neville Brothers.
"We've got two bass players, which obviously is unique," says Ivan. "We like the fact that people hear about us having two bass players and wonder how it works. It's killer. They both have their own styles of playing, but it's all well-rooted in New Orleans funk."
After Hurricane Katrina, most of the Neville family relocated. Ivan still keeps his house near Austin, Texas, but regularly returns home to play and record.
"On the surface, New Orleans looks fine," says Neville. "You can go see a good band or get a plate of good food pretty much anywhere. But places like the Lower Ninth Ward are depressing. That was a community, and now it's a bunch of empty lots. You can't keep the people of New Orleans down. We're going to find inspiration to keep us going, but it's clear that the powers that be have priorities that don't include rebuilding one of the great treasures of our country."
Neville certainly contributes to continuing the cultural vibrance of the Big Easy — both Offbeat and Gambit magazines named Dumpstaphunk the "Funkiest Band in New Orleans" last year.
"That was pretty cool," says Ivan. "This is about the funkiest city in the world, and to be recognized as the funkiest band here is a great honor. But besides from awards, we kind of know ain't nobody too much funkier than us."
Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk headlines at the Windjammer (1008 Ocean Blvd., 843-886-8948) on Mon. June 2. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Visit www.dumpstaphunk.com and www.the-windjammer.com for more.