For many jamband fans, Keller Williams was like a gateway drug and over the years we have watched him solidify his place in the scene. These days Keller is throwing down with a full funky band that calls themselves More Than a Little after a classic Keller tune. Their recently collaborative release, conveniently titled Funk, is made up of ten live recordings that display exactly what this project is all about. The four piece band, along with some sassy female vocals, showcases a side of Keller that many fans have been waiting to hear.
The album Funk kicks off with a vocal bass line that gets everyone on Keller’s level. It is followed up by backup singers, keys, an actual bass and live drums that hit you upside the head right from the get go. The first tune of the album is a comical Flight of the Conchords cover, “I Told You I Was Freaky”. As the first track continues, shit gets weird, and you are taken into the crazy domain of freak funk. It serves as a warning to all that this album is going to be filthy nasty, so be prepared to get weird.
The second tune rolls out of the first with a jazzy jam thick with keys and drum breaks. The Keller classic “More Than a Little” is true to its title. This tune is the definition of what this project is all about. Keller leads the group as they slink from one verse to the next, eventually agreeing in unison: “Now that’s funky!”
Keller’s band taps into the roots of funk and the album captures the energy of their live performance perfectly. ”I Feel Love” starts with a disco tease of Madonna’s ”Vogue”. Keller then takes the lead, calling the shots as the soulful vocalists follow suit. The tune continues to hopscotch between disco and soul before it finally lands in an era of disco funk and settles in for a nice long jam.
Overall, the album’s cover songs prove Keller Williams has mastered the art of reinterpretation. He already has his own special way of putting a spin on things and the addition of the funk band brings this experience to a whole other level. A jazzy version of the Talking Heads’, ”Once in a Lifetime” includes reverb vocals that complement Keller’s beatnik delivery of the song’s lyrics. The album also contains a tribute to Rick Jame’s “Mary Jane”, a metaphorically iconic tune that is the funkiest of the funk. If you still need convincing, check out “West LA Fadeaway” as it was performed at Summer Camp Music Festival in 2013. Keller puts his own funky spin on this Dead tune and has a few special guests to help seal the deal….
Needless to say, the soulfulness of these performances shines through every track of Funk. Better yet, funky could be the most sustainable version of Keller to date!
As your CIT, I highly recommend checking out Funk. Then go see Keller Williams with More Than a Little perform live while you still have the chance! The most recent tour is being billed as “What the Funk” and Keller will be playing two sets of music at every show. The first set will be a solo one-man-band performance and the second set will be the full band experience with More Than a Little.
Wait, Trey did what?
That’s right, everyone’s favorite red-headed guitarist Trey Anastasio wrote the music for a recent musical, Hands on a Hardbody, based on the 1992 documentary of the same name. The plot of the musical revolves around a contest held in 1960’s Texas in which contestants try to win a truck by keeping their hand on a truck for the longest period. The score of this musical, like Phish in the music industry, is unique to other Broadway musicals. To me this reflects on the musical writing style of Anastasio, which impressively enough got him a Tony nomination for best music (not bad for a first timer).
Unlike most musicals on Broadway, Hands on a Hardbody has a southern feel to it. Most of the songs have a country theme to it, with an influence of blues and rock as well. There is definite variety within the soundtrack, with different musical theme for a song depending on the character singing it. Two other unique rarities in this musical that I attribute to Anastasio, which really separate Hands on a Hardbody from the rest of Broadway, is that a couple songs are actually acapella. Also, three of the songs in the musical, “Alone with Me,” “It’s a Fix,” and “Joy of the Lord,” are reprised again at a later point, instantly reminding me of Tweezer Reprise. Two of the songs, “My Problem Right There,” and “Burn That Bridge,” I already knew quite well, because the Trey Anastasio Band has performed it on their tour in 2011. To have known those two songs for 2 years and hearing them now placed within the context of a musical was probably one of the stranger moments for my song listening history, but in no way is that a bad thing. It’s also worth noting the guitar riff in the opening track, “Human Drama Kind of Thing,” brought me to an urge to groove along as if I was dancing in the rain again at Summer Camp to TAB’s Mr. Completely.
- Human Drama Kind of Thing
- If I Had This Truck
- If She Don’t Sleep
- My Problem Right There
- Alone With Me
- Burn That Bridge
- I’m Gone
- Uncontrollable Laughter
- Joy of the Lord
- Hunt With the Big Dogs
- Hands on a Hardbody
- Born in Laredo
- Alone With Me Reprise
- It’s a Fix
- Used to Be Me
- It’s a Fix Reprise
- God Answered My Prayers
- Joy of the Lord Reprise
- Keep Your Hands on It
- The Tryers (Bonus Track)
Dumpstaphunk played the House of Blues in Chicago on Friday, July 19th as Phish’s official late night show. In all honesty, this show was the highlight of my evening, especially since Phish was forced to cancel early due to a nasty storm that swept through the city. Along with opening act, The Revivalist, Dumpstaphunk threw down one top notch funky dance party that lasted until the wee hours of the morning.
Chicago actually holds a special place in Dumpstaphunk history. Drummer Nikki Glaspie played her first show as an official member of Dumpstaphunk in Chicago just two short years ago. I got a chance to talk with Nikki before her show on Friday and let’s just say this chick is FIERCE! Her addition to the current lineup has elevated this band’s energy to a whole other stratosphere and her 15 minute drum solo Friday night completely blew me away.
Today, Dumpstaphunk will be releasing their latest album, Dirty Word, and this is the band’s first studio album since Nikki Glaspie joined the group. In the past she has helped produce, arrange, and record tracks in the studio for many other projects and artists, but Dirty Word is the first album where Nikki recorded material that she had also written.
Dumpstaphink is basically a super group of funk musicians, and Dirty Word showcases the musical range this band brings to the table. While each member has a notable musical background in funk, Nikki Glaspie is the only member not rooted in the New Orleans funk scene. Needless to say, her vocals pack quite a punch and her influence on the new album is obvious. ”I brought some of the rock element to the album. Whereas Nick Daniels brought the blues element and Ivan (Neville) brought a rock element too but a different type, almost like a Who-ish type vibe, and I brought just straight hard rock.”
Coming up with new material this day in age is often a reflection of what is already out there in the world of music. By staying true its origins, Dumpstaphunk’s mix of styles has brought funk music to a whole other level. ”We wanted people to know we are more than just a funk band,” explains Glaspie, ”We can play blues if we want to or we can play rock if we want to.”
Dirty Word was recorded in New Orleans and took about a year to complete. One of the most distinct difference between Dumphstaphunk and other funk bands is they lack a horn section. Luckily, artists Trombone Shorty and Skerik were close by to supply the horns for the album’s third track “I Wish You Would”. ”Skerik is an amazing tenor saxophone player, he’s sick!” says Nikki. They also added Rebirth Brass Band to mix for ”Raise the House,” a song that was meant to blow everyone away in true Mardi Gras fashion.
Dirty Word also contains some pretty notable contributions from artists Ani DiFranco and Art “Papa Funk” Neville. The album’s sixth track, “If I’m in Luck” is a dirty nasty Bettie Davis cover where Glaspie sings vocals and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers guest stars on bass. “It is so different than what Dumpstaphunk normally does or what people think we normally do,” explains Nikki “That was actually what we wanted for the record.” The band has been covering the tune since Nikki joined back in 2011. Just like it does in their live show, ”If I’m in Luck” adds quite a sassy flavor to the Dumpstaphunk catalog.
There is a certain stigma that surrounds funk music, which often gets snubbed because it goes against most of what pop music stands for. When asked about the album’s title, Glaspie explains how it is almost the perfect description of funk music from a funk band’s perspective. ”There is no category in the Grammys for funk,” she points out. “When we register our songs on BMI or ASCAP, there is no category to register our songs as funk songs. You know it’s like it’s not even recognized as a genre of music within the music industry. So, it’s like a dirty word.” The irony is that disco, house, EDM, and Hip-hop are all rooted in funk. Therefore without funk music, most of the pop music today would not exist and pop music is something Nikki Glaspie knows all too much about.
Nikki was fortunate to land a gig touring in an all-girl band backing up pop superstar Beyoncé. While touring with one of the most successful artists in the world is a dream come true for most musicians, it just wasn’t her thing. “Literally, if I had to play “Irreplaceable” one more time, I would have shot myself in the foot.” Nikki further explains, “I just couldn’t take it anymore.” Glaspie was at a crossroads where she felt she needed to be true to her art. Playing someone else’s music in a genre she could care less about no longer appealed to her. “I wanted to spread my wings. You know it was like I was super contained in that environment and I had to play the same thing over and over again. There was just no room for growth.”
Moving forward was a big step for her career. Funk music seemed to pull her in a direction where she knew she would enjoy being challenged. “I am a funkateer first and foremost, but I am also a rocker,” explains Nikki. Dumpstaphunk has given her a creative outlet where she can perform the same type of music she would want to listen to and see live. In other words, this is her dream job.
Nikki Glaspie has now been touring with Dumpstaphunk virtually nonstop for the past two years. While it might seem like a huge leap from the all-female pop band she traveled the globe with, Nikki didn’t find adjusting all that difficult. “We all have a certain kinship living together on the road. It’s not as much of a difference as people would think or maybe as it would be in a different type of work environment. But because we are all musicians, and kind of all do the same thing, then the gender thing doesn’t really matter.”
Dumpstaphunk will continue to tour nonstop in support of the new album, which drops today. Download here.