by Laura Cayouette
Sadly, today is the last concert of the Harvest the Music series.The running fall funk-stravaganza at Lafayette Square concludes with an all-star combo known as New Orleans Nights. They're set to take the stage at 5 pm. The all-star band includes resident whiz Allen Toussaint, Grammy winner Nicholas Payton and members of the Joe Krown Trio.
The trio includes Krown on organ, Walter "Wolfman" Washington on guitar and Russell Batiste Jr. on drums. Juke-blues legend Little Freddie King adds the cherry on top of the line-up.
I'm excited to see what the evening brings as Toussaint is responsible for such hits as Ernie K-Doe's "Mother-in-Law," Dr. John's "Right Place, Wrong Time" and Glenn Campbell's "Southern Nights." Even "Lady Marmalade" and Devo's "Working in a Coal Mine" are part of the Toussaint songbook. And, I'll be honest, I'm hoping to see Walter "Wolfman" Washington play guitar with his mouth.
Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk played last week's Harvest the Music. When Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk took the stage, it was like being at a family backyard barbecue or neighborhood block party. The music was lively, yet comfortably personal. A local friend said he’d actually been to a barbecue at a Neville’s and that it was, indeed, a lot like the concert we were attending.
And why not? Ivan Neville, son of Aaron, and Ian Neville, son of Art,
formed Dumpstaphunk. The Neville cousins are funkier than the Neville
Brothers. They even have two bass players, Nick Daniels and Tony Hall. Hall
also picks up the guitar once in a while. Raymond Webber lays down the beat
on drums, and the whole band sings.
It was no wonder the crowd seemd moved to shimmy back and forth, as songs included"Shake It Off" and several others about shaking your booty.
"Oughta Know Better" is a beautifully written plea for us to grow up and treat each other right with the promise that, “it’s gonna get better.” For "Standing in Your Stuff," the group brought at least a dozen women onstage to dance.
There was a funny song, "Put it in the Dumpster," that started by urging us to take our grudges and put ‘em in the dumpster along with things like emotional baggage and regrets. As the song became more of a volley between
the group shouting things and the crowd calling back, “Put it in the
dumpster,” the lyrics slipped into other, more elicit things to get rid of.
As I continue struggling to answer the question – “What is New Orleans music?” I know the answer lies somewhere in this band. Everyone in this band has played with other local bands including the Funky Meters, as well as world-conquering acts like the Rolling Stones. Each musician brings their own soul and personality, without making themselves the center. The band is overflowing with funk and they definitely know how to put on a show, but it’s the intimacy that separates New Orleans from other flavors of music. There’s no emotional wall between the band and the crowd. We’re all just in it to have a good time. Dumpstaphunk self-released their first full-length album, titled "Everybody Wants Sum," this year.
The show opened with Good Enough for Good Times, a band formed in the
wake of Katrina when club owners were looking for bands to fill the suddenly-empty stages. They play energetic, groovy music with a 70′s organ sound setting the tone. Bassist Robert Mercurio and guitarist Jeff Raines also play with Galactic. They’re both from the Washington D.C. area, which helps explain the spiky feel to their funky music. They went to rival colleges,
Tulane and Loyola, and were then heavily influenced by the music of
Professor Longhair and the Meters, among others. Drummer, Simon Lott,
formerly of Charlie Hunter's Trio, grew up with organ player Brian Coogan.
During the break, three of the people from Second Harvest, the nonprofit benefiting from the concert, came onto the stage to do a rump-shaking contest judged by the crowd. A goofy guy handily beat out two more earnest and attractive women, but they were all great sports. I would have loved to get a photo, but I was too busy eating mac and cheese from Aunt Linda’s Soul Food while helping to feed the needy. Every dollar spent at the show feeds a family of four one meal.