New Orleans Acclaimed Dumpstaphunk Comes to “Funk Up” Phoenix
An Exclusive Interview with Ian Neville, Ivan Neville and Nikki Glaspie

By Mariah Fleming


Once in awhile, a musical sound so rare comes along, it’s hard to find the right adjective to define it. Tried and true adjectives leap to mind like ‘extraordinary’ and ‘remarkable’. But the idiosyncratic music of Dumpstaphunk reaches deep into my roots. So much so that I wound up searching out the roots of the word ‘unique.’ It’s a Latin word: ‘sui generis.’ The literal meaning of ‘sui generis’ is “of it’s own kind.” And that’s the only way to truly define Dumpstaphunk. It is music that takes the weight off your shoulders; creates an attitude adjustment and gives the mind wings. My favorite cut so far is “Put It in the Dumpster.”

There’s legendary DNA pulsing through the music of Dumpstaphunk: Neville Brothers DNA. Ivan is the son of Aaron Neville, Ian the son of Art Neville. Dumpstaphunk came to life originally in 2003, initially assembled by keyboardist Ivan Neville on a whim, to perform a solo slot at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Ivan enlisted Nick Daniels and Tony Hall on bass, mixed in his cousin Ian Neville’s scorching guitar rhythms, and most recently, added the newest member to the group, heavy-hitting female protégé Nikki Glaspie on drums, replacing original powerhouse Raymond Weber. Dumpstaphunk has evolved from a serendipitous happening into what is now widely considered to be one of New Orleans' most prestigious modern funk ensembles.

Gambit Weekly magazine says it best: “Dumpstaphunk’s groove is a unique monster. It's not the minimalist funk of the Meters and it’s not the relentless funk of James Brown, although it has that rhythmic drive. It's not the psychedelic, over-the-top circus of Parliament-Funkadelic, but it often has that political slant. It's not the party funk of the Ohio Players, but it shares the high vocals that take the pressure off the bottom. Dumpstaphunk is a whole other school of funk. If you're under 35, you think you've seen funk, but you haven't. You missed the original Meters, James Brown when he wasn't a parody, Parliament-Funkadelic’s landing of the “Mothership”, Sly and the Family Stone before he went M.I.A and Booker T. and the M.G.s before the demise of Stax. Dumpstaphunk is as good as all that, and they're in their prime now.”

The New York Times says: "Dumpstaphunk is the best funk band from New Orleans right now.” The Rolling Stone’s Keith Richards says, "Ivan's so good...I play with him.” "Dumpstaphunk is ready to usher in a new age of funk to the masses." weighs in The music of the Neville Family is legendary. Most people over, say, 35, know The Neville Brothers, or Aaron Neville’s soul stirring solo work, or the Funky Meters. We’ll all have a chance to experience this legendary musical lineage when Dumpstaphunk lands in Phoenix on March 15th. The Compound Grill in Phoenix is an ideal setting for this musical feast. There’s lots of room to groove. And tickets are flying out the door.

Dumpstaphunk has wowed festivalgoers at some of the nation's largest music extravaganzas including VoodooFest, New Orleans Jazzfest 2005-2011 (where they are slated to appear again this year), JamCruise 2011, Gathering of the Vibes, Ottawa Blues Festival, Dave Matthews Band Caravan and the Monterey Jazz Festival. Just scratching the surface of the multitude of bands they have recently supported includes everybody from Widespread Panic and Slightly Stoopid to Galactic and String Cheese Incident, not to mention sit-ins with Derek Trucks, Mike Gordon from Phish and Warren Haynes.

Ian Neville

So, dump your blahs, turn off the news and treat yourself to one of a kind show this month. Music and More Arizona got a first hand glimpse into the world of Dumpstaphunk in our exclusive interview with Ian Neville, Ivan Neville and Nikki Glaspie last week. It’s a world you don’t want to miss. In their own words:

MUSIC AND MORE AZ: Ivan and Ian, both of you started playing when you were young, with your famous fathers, Aaron Neville and Art Neville of The Neville Brothers. Can you imagine doing anything else but being musicians?
IAN NEVILLE: Yes, we did both start playing with our fathers. Other than being a musician, I don’t know. When I was a kid I wanted to like play basketball and some shit like that, but once it started heading in this direction…I quit having ‘back up’ plans.

MUSIC AND MORE AZ: What inspired you guys to form Dumpstaphunk?
IAN:Dumpstphunk started as a jazz fest slot that Ivan had and ended up recruiting all the guys that are now in the band. It gelled so well we decided to check it out, keep going for it and see how it works, stick with the two bass players and see where it takes us.

MUSIC AND MORE AZ: Nikki, How and when did you join Dumpstaphunk?
NIKKI GLASPIE: I joined last June. I met the Neville's at Jazzfest in New Orleans in 2004. I was down there playing with the Sam Kininger Band. Eric Krasno introduced Ivan and I, and I met Tony in Boston at Wally's. He came down one night after playing with Trey Anastasio. Dumpstaphunk just called me up and asked if I was interested in playing with them, and of course I said yes, seeing that they were one of my favorite bands.

MUSIC AND MORE AZ:Nikki, what are the best things about playing with Ivan and Ian?
NIKKI:The best thing about playing with Ian and Ivan is that they're funky. We communicate well.

MUSIC AND MORE AZ: Does any of Dumpstaphunk’s music reflect the rising state of consciousness in the world or carry a message?
Nikki Glaspie IAN: As far as state of consciousness in the world and our music goes, we definitely have some slight social commentary in our songs; some of it’s hidden some of it’s a little more direct and that will continue on the new record. We have a few new songs that have some statements to be made in them.
IVAN: I would say that it’s not totally on purpose but the message factor does tend to happen. If you have an opportunity to say something positive, why not say it?

MUSIC AND MORE AZ: How do you like doing festivals, especially smaller ones like the Joshua Tree Music Fest, as opposed to the big corporate sponsored festivals?
IAN: Yeah, the little festivals are a lot of fun, Joshua Tree was fun, it’s a little bigger now, I guess. High Sierra is a lot of fun; those festivals have a very ‘family, summer campy’ vibe and that you definitely can’t come across at the huge ginormous Wal Mart fests.

MUSIC AND MORE AZ: What’s the most fun or interesting thing that has happened while you guys were playing onstage?
NIKKI: We were in Wilmington, NC last month and this drunk woman came onstage to dance. She kept leaning back so far that she fell completely over. She wasn't hurt. It was pretty funny because she got back up and immediately continued what she was doing before and fell again.

MUSIC AND MORE AZ: You’re playing at the New Orleans Jazz Fest this year. What’s the best thing about playing at the Jazz Fest?
IAN: Yeah, we got on jazz fest once again this year it’s always fun. It’s good that we get to do the home court thing and have so many out of town people come and see us. That’s a nice feature of that festival. And I get to sleep in my own bed, which is a nice concept. (Ian chuckles)

Ivan Neville

MUSIC AND MORE AZ: What do you think of the lineup?
IAN: I’ll definitely try to be out there a few of the days and see a few of the people. I think Foo Fighters are right before the Neville Brothers. Foo always crushes live; I’ll definitely be checking them out. And I think we actually play right before Florence and the Machine, who my little sister is real psyched about seeing.

MUSIC AND MORE AZ: Since Katrina, have the Jazz Fest and other traditional festivals in New Orleans been adversely affected?
IAN: Since the storm, things like jazz fest, they were a little diminished as far as attendance from tourists and out of town folks. Now it’s definitely back in full swing. I think this past Mardi Gras was possibly a record breaker as far as crowd wise and this jazz fest probably will be the most crowded. I think last jazz fest was most crowded to date. So they’re definitely back. Tourism wise we get all the stray conventions and all that kind of stuff back again. And we also got the Super Bowl back again next year, which will be the first team to win the Super Bowl on our home field. Looking forward to that! And other random sporting events are starting to come back so I think we are doing all right on that.

MUSIC AND MORE AZ: Nikki, have you heard of the late, well-known drummer photographer from Arizona, Lissa Wales?
NIKKI: I did not know Lissa but I have heard from all she was really cool. I have no photographs by her.

MUSIC AND MORE AZ: Nikki, no doubt you know the book “Sticks and Skins” by Jules Follet? It’s an amazing chronicle of never before seen photos of many of the world’s most revered drummers. It is dedicated to Lissa Wales.
NIKKI: Yes, I have read it. And I'm in it. I have two copies. One autographed by many of the drummers in the book and one for the coffee table. I was at NAMM last year and we had a book signing, which was cool because I got my copy signed and I signed other drummers that were in the book copies too. Super awesome.

Dumpstaphunk plays at the Compound Grill on March 15th. Opening for the band will be Steel Toed Slippers. Show starts at 8pm; $20 - $25 plus tax. The Compound Grill is located at 7000 E. Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, directly south of Cine Capri Theater. Info and tickets at 480.585.5483 or