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.
If you’re from Missouri or Illinois, I’m sure you’ve heard of or have seen Aaron Kamm and the One Drops. They are an act that no reggae, blues, or jam band lover should miss! AKOD have been around for over 4 years and have 3 studio albums out titled The Bomb and the Beast, grow, and gnu-gnu. I have all 3 albums, so if you want to check them out just ask me! Aaron Kamm himself plays guitar in which he shreds the most intense blues solos and is lead vocals with his soulfully smooth voice. The One Drops include the talented Andy Lee Dorris on bass and the Sean Raila on drums who plays beats faster than you can say “one drops!” They tend to play a couple times a month in St. Louis making them a key staple to the ever growing St. Louis music scene. They also have played several smaller festivals in Missouri and Illinois, and hit up Edwardsville, IL, Columbia, MO and Carbondale, MO at least once a month. I’ve seen them way too many times to coun, but my favorite time seeing them was in southern Missouri at Bearcat Getaway campground after a long day of floating. This is one band that I definitely would watch in 2013 since their shows are getting more and more packed by the month. So if you like reggae, blues, jam, and love to dance, then I suggest you get yourself to one of their shows soon! If you want to a taste of their sound, click here!
Therefore, last Sunday – tired from lack of sleep due to friends visiting for the holiday – both Derrick and I hit the road, driving over two hours to see Big G at the Canopy.
I had to be at work the next day – at 8am, so I was estimating I’d get about 4 hours sleep…did that in any way make me hesitate? No way. Nothing was going to let me miss this show.
The next day I was tired, cold, and had an aching, stiff neck. Was work on Monday painfully long and horrible? Yes. Was it torture? Yes. Was Big Gigantic worth it? F**K yes.
We entered the Canopy Club – one of our favorite venues- and Ana Sia was the DJ peering over her Mac. For me, it is always nice to see a female up on stage. She played some sweet beats – I especially liked her rendition of a forgotten high school favorite “What’s Your Fantasy” by Ludacris. She was focused the whole time – yet dancing the whole time as well. She definitely has talent – I am sure this is not the last time we will be seeing Ana Sia.
Ana finished up around 11. After a short break the place lit up and out walked Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken – or as otherwise known, Big Gigantic. This is a unique duo – based on sax and drums. A great mix. Throw in some bass and you got yourself a show worth driving 2 hours to see on a Sunday night.
Big Gigantic was stopping at Urbana as part of their Uprising Tour…ending with a New Year’s show in Chicago. The place was surprisingly jammed and even Gumby made it to the show. What really made this an especially fun concert was that they played many of my favorites – such as their Aloe Blacc “I need a dollar” remix and their Kanye West “Get em High” remix.
Some of the other great ones were “Sky HIgh,” “Lucid Dreams,” “Shine” (A Place Behind the Moon), and “Nocturnal” (Nocturnal). There were all kinds of fans, there was all kinds of energy and the whole place was just jumpin’. In case my pics aren’t doing it justice – I want to stress how great the light show was. They did a great job; it was original and perfectly synchronized.
One of the most amazing things about this band is that they are all about satisfying their fans – and one of the ways they do it is by giving us free music. That’s right – you can download their album “Nocturnal” for free on their website. So if you are not on the Big G party wagon then your missing out. Go to their site, download their music, come to a show and praise the ingenious drums-sax mix. If it’s just not going to happen in the near future, at least I can offer some consolation in telling you that they will be at Summer Camp next year. Yeah so if you didn’t get your tickets to SC yet – what are you waiting for?
As I have mentioned, I couldn’t believe how nice and welcoming everyone was. In particular, Vinnie seriously touched my heart with his kindness. I am an aspiring drummer and have always admired and looked up to him; at one point when I had a moment I approached him and asked him a wide array of questions and requested some tips on improving my skills. He not only answered them all and gave me inspiration and encouragement, he actually sat down with me on two separate occasions and gave me a private drum lesson. Vinnie was patient and sweet and he is just SUCH a cool guy; it was the most special moment of the weekend. I missed GUC’s late night set to get the second half of my lesson and don’t regret it for a second. THANK YOU SO MUCH VINNIE!! I had actually bought a pair of drumsticks in the hopes that he would sign them for me and told him that; but he didn’t sign them, instead, Sunday night after their last show he gave me the sticks he used during their last set and signed them, writing “you rock Maria” – tears are swelling up in my eyes as I write about this. I can’t express how much it means to me. Thanks again Vinnie – you’re amazing.