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.
Inspiration takes many forms. What motivates one musician may tire and bore the next. While Lera Lynn and the Wood Brothers primary motivator surely is bringing heartfelt music to the masses, one thing they also share is a healthy obsession with whiskey. Whether the Lion’s Pride Rye helped whet the whistle of Ms. Lynn, or let’s Chris perform his interpretive dance moves any easier is for the audience to judge. However, a few things were laid on the line the day after Halloween when they played Chicago’s Lincoln Hall. Foremost, these performers formed for a 8 night tour in November a symbiotic relationship nary seen these days on a bill. They seemed to feed off the energy and genuine good nature which made what went down all that more special for those in attendance.
Lera Lynn set list: Happy Ever After, Comin’ Down,I’m Your Fool,Refrain,The Frey,Fly,You & Me Alone, Bobby, Baby, Standing on the Moon
Lera Lynn, the darling from Athens, GA can play her custom converted ’57 Kay acoustic like she sold a piece of her soul to a fiddle playing Beelzebub. Her slender frame hides a powerful voice that carried over the hushed crowd of four hundred respectful Chicagoan’s. There were no catcall’s, only appreciation for a throwback to a different era. One that is undoubtedly popular, but increasing removed from the radio scene which is a shame. June Carter, Patsy Cline, Lera Lynn? She is that talented and at the same time bashfully humble. She jested to the crowd what a treat it was to play with the Brothers Wood due to their unknowing grandeur and renown. Modest to a fault she sings about feelings larger than herself, but that have touched her profoundly in her short time on earth. The good one’s can pull a lyric from a simple chord much like a wizard in a Potter movie pulls a memory from the ear of a student at Hogwart’s.
Rocking back in forth in her high heeled boots and knee length dress she is comfortable engaging people and letting them see a glimpse. It could be the drinks ordered from her adoring fans sent stage side that loosens her lips, but she quickly finds a melody and like her journey to date elevates to echelons normally not expected to be heard from a potty mouthed bourbon drinking southerner. Yes, she curses like a sailor but where it could be thought crass on some for some reason it isn’t this night. The dichotomy in stage presence and song penmanship aside the women has a way about her and captures the ear and eye of all in the room as they gaze at a concoction of sassy sweet and sultry sounds. The name of her recent album “Have You Met Lera Lynn?” begs a worthy question. If not I suspect you will soon. Her cracked rear view mirror isn’t as omnipotent as Hootie’s, but her busted front windshield and tour with the Wood Brothers should make her a household name soon enough.
Wood Brothers set list: Sing About It, Up Above My Head, Atlas, Pay Attention, Twisted, Neon, Postcards From Hell, Spirit, Honey Jar, Fox On The Run, I Got Loaded, Mary Anna, One More Day, Glad, Down, Shoofly Pie. E: Luckiest Man, PYT (w/ Lera Lynn)
The Wood Brothers, Chris and Oliver, brought their soulful sibling harmonization as well as their shiutar player, Jano Rix, to the friendly confines of Lincoln Hall for the night. Although they now call New York and Atlanta their respective home these days their roots as well as instrumentation track back to growing up in Boulder. Bluesy folk goodness emanates from Chris’ upright bass as he tells the crowd that Chicago truly is his favorite town. There is Oliver jesting “there he goes”, but there’s an tone of honesty in his voice just like the music that makes even the most skeptical mind believe.
On “Postcards from Hell” lyrics tell of a bluesman who won’t flinch in the eye of temptation and plays his music for the necessities in life and sheer desire. The song epitomizes what I can only believe was a man the brothers came across in the travels and found in him a kindred spirit to which they could relate.
“You never heard a soul so pure and true
It’s flowin’ right out of his hands
He can sing sweet as a choir girl
Or he can sing a house on fire
I’ve seen him callin’ up the angels
And use a breeze for a telephone wire”
If the brothers are the personification of whiskey drinking angels then its the perfect juxtaposition to the openers “cursory” notes. Although you know its not as easy as it seems the chord progressions and time changes effortlessly synch perfectly like the brothers knew they were meant to travel the land spreading good music throughout.
If your faith is still undetermined then Oliver has some advice for you…give it “One More Day”. It’s during this ditty that he and Chris let loose during a solo portion and let the music take them as they take turns using their bass and guitar respectfully as dance partners. Chris straddles his upright as Oliver takes a solo and crouches down like the music is in his gut trying to get out and find a good home.
It’s clear that this is their congregation. During the encore they bring out a cover of ”Pretty Young Thing” performed aptly with the backing vocals of Lera Lynn complete with whiskey in tow. When these brothers were young they were prodigies in the company of mentors. Now that they are settling into life, but still young at heart, its apparent that like fine whiskey their music is getting better with age.
When the hardest working man in the Jam scene comes to town touting the Jimi Hendrix Experience one tends to tune in and listen. Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule have been doing “Mule-O-Ween” since 2007 and decided 2012 would be time to bust out a legend that wasn’t Mayan related. The Riviera Theater stage was adorned with Jackass-O-lanterns (pumpkins carved with mule designs) and there was that familiar smell of Halloween throughout the venue.
Gourds weren’t the only one’s dressed to impress with a large contingent of the crowd donning their midweek best which included Hans Solo, John Lennon, and Axel Rose as the notables. Some came straight from work with little fanfare for festive pagan rituals. But one thing they did come ready to devour is hearing sweet sounds from one southern gentlemen and his skillful guitar mastery.
The first set was a throwback to Gov’t Mule’s Summer Camp Moonshine stage set as they played “Fallen Down> The Other One Jam” complemented with the lyrics to the Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter”. “Thorazine Shuffle” off Dose (2001) was also a treat to here for long time Mule fans. Warren spoke to the crowd telling them they’d be right back in the holiday spirit. Time to reload the beverages…
One of the only musicians that could pull off the soulful voice of Hendrix and intricacies of his now groundbreaking style the second set was a collection of rare and famous Jimi classics. On “Little Wing” which Haynes pulled out for the last song of the encore he played a white Fender Strat which was strung upside down in the classic Jimi lefty style. Though the mega classics of “Fire” or “Voodoo Child” were absent, highlights from the evening included “Castles Made Of Sand, Stone Free” as well as the opener of “Are You Experienced” into “Freedom” complete with strobe lighting effects that were timed perfectly to the band coming onstage to a raucous frenzied fanfare. As I made my way to the exit I noticed more than a few Mule aficionados had passed out in their costume on tables. Somehow I feel Warren and Jimi would both approve.
Set One: Blind Man In The Dark, Wold Boss, Larger Than Life, Gameface , Fallen Down > The Other One Jam , Kind Of Bird , Captured, Thorazine Shuffle
Set Two: Hendrix Interview, EXP > Are You Experienced?, Freedom, One Rainy Wish, Up From The Skies, Crosstown Traffic, Bleeding Heart (Peoples, Peoples, Peoples), Angel, And The Gods Made Love, Castles Made Of Sand, Stone Free , Rainy Day, Dream Day/Still Raining, Still Dreaming , 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be) > Machine Gun > 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be), Axis (Bold As Love)
Encore: Happy Birthday Jam, Sco-Mule* , Little Wing
 Mountain Jam Teases
 Gimme Shelter Lyrics
 Get Up Stand Up, Wind Cries Mary Teases
 Third Stone From The Sun Tease
 with Chris Neal
 with Chris Neal, Smoke On The Water, Dance To The Music Lyrics
This past Saturday, the boys of Gomez (hailing from the UK) made a stop in Chicago during the US leg of their tour. In case you missed them at Summer Camp in 2009, Gomez is a five-piece British act consisting of Ben Ottewell (vocals, guitar), Tom Gray (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Paul Blackburn (bass, guitar), Olly Peacock (drums), and Ian Ball (vocals, guitar, harmonica). Fun fact: Gomez records most of their music in Chicago.
Now, for non-Chicagoans, this will take a bit of explaining as they were headliners at the annual “Garden Walk” (yes, really).
Here are the basics of the garden walk: All day in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, people open their doors to their homes so you can walk around and see the gardens. It’s adorable. For those who don’t care that much about gardens (myself included) you simply go to the 3 blocks that are roped off for music, food, and booze. It’s a good old-fashioned Chicago street festival, and you get to see pretty amazing bands for 10 bucks.
Gomez went on right at 8pm sharp, and after seeing over 15 Gomez sets in my day, I’m not exaggerating when I say the setlist was the best I’d ever seen. Why? Well, Gomez is hopping on the user-submitted setlist train, and has been letting the fans pick the music all summer long. You can hop on their website before the show, pick 5 songs you want to see played, and submit. It looks like this:
To all those in Chicago who went on and submitted… great job. We were treated to songs I haven’t heard live in years – or ever – packed one after another in a set that truly showed the range of what these guys can do. It was pretty clear who the Gomez fans were in the audience… being a street fest, it was a mix of about 1000 people ranging in age and knowledge or interest in the band. But as the night picked up and the rare songs kept playing, there was a very clear set of 400-ish people that were are sharing the same amazing experience. A particularly heavy round-up of songs off Five Men in a Hut and Split the Difference proved that Chi-town has a strong tie to Gomez and their deep collection of amazing music.
Check ‘em out, Scampers. You have 2 more chances – Buffalo, NY tonight and Indy tomorrow, before they hop back across the pond and we wait for next year.