When you hear the word “Dumpstaphunk,” you might think someone is trying to label that certain back-alley smell, unique to Las Vegas strip malls.
It’s actually Ivan Neville’s funky, bass-driven R&B group that will be performing Wednesday at B.B. King’s Blues Club at the Mirage.
The New Orleans group is steeped in Southern blues tradition, but adds its own spin with some of the self-proclaimed “dirtiest and nastiest” funk you’ve ever heard. The band is comprised of five members, whose resumes include stints with a number of big-name artists, including Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, the Spin Doctors, Etta James and Harry Connick Jr. While two of the five members have the last name of Neville, this isn’t a reincarnation of the Neville Brothers. Expect them to bring the funk, in all its dirty and nasty glory.
I read that your band’s name is derived from a song you had written. How did that song title come about?
Ivan Neville: I was just fooling around and trying to think of something stinky, that’s nasty and dirty and I thought of a dumpster. Dumpstaphunk, that’s just the sound. It’s just a vibe. It’s dirty. I guess it’s just irreverent. It’s something about the way it makes you feel, which is kind of dirty. It makes your body move and you can’t help it.
Growing up in a musical family, was it more or less a given that you would pursue a career in music?
At a certain point, it just seemed like the thing to do. I wanted to do other stuff when I was a youngster, but then I started playing music. I was about 15 when I started playing piano. It just became obvious that it was what I wanted to do. I did not have any formal training. I learned a lot from my dad and my uncles, and I listened to a lot of music on the radio and that influenced me. Then I started writing stuff and making up my own music.
What was behind the decision to bring in two bass players? That’s a rarity these days.
That was my call. When we were putting the band together, I was thinking about whom to bring in. Two of my favorite musicians happened to be bassists and they’re two of my closest friends. They both sing great and they both play amazing bass guitar. My thought was, which one of them should I get for the band? The answer was clear: both. It just grew from there.
What was it like making the transition from playing in other bands to playing with your own?
We’ve all had different levels of success playing for other people. There were some adjustments to be made. When you’re a hired musician, everything is taken care of. When you start your own band, it’s a different thing. Now we have to start from the ground up, and it’s fun, but it can be frustrating, too. But it’s good; it’s definitely good.
Your 2006 Bonnaroo gig was the stuff of legend. What was it like performing at that festival?
We’ve played it once since the first time, but the 2006 gig was hands-down one of the coolest gigs we’ve ever played. We played at like two in the morning and there were thousands of people out there. It was amazing. A lot of people didn’t know who we were. After that, they knew who we were. It was an epic set. That gave us a little boost and helped start building a fan base for our band.
You’ve had so many amazing collaborations with people like Bonnie Raitt and Don Henley. Who would you love to share the stage with one day?
That’s hard. Off the top of my head, it’s mostly people who are gone, like Jimi Hendrix or Ray Charles. I played in a band with Keith Richards and that was probably one of my favorite projects I have ever been a part of. There have been rumors of that band resurfacing and that would be fun to play with Keith again.