Dumpstaphunk & Orgone
February 25, 2011Â Â
On Friday night, February 25th, in the Federal Hill section of Baltimore, the little music cathedral known as the 8X10 treated music fans to a spectacular nightâ€”a double bill consisting of Dumpstaphunk and Orgone. The crowd came early and stayed late, though this was due in part to the venue itself, the proverbial Tipitina’s of the Crab Cake Capital of the World. 8X10 owners Abigail Janssens and Brian Shupe have worked hard to create a little masterpiece music hall to which live music fanatics have shown tremendous response. The club is very petite, and therefore provides an intimate experience with the artist. This intimacy and closeness not only affects the audiences, but it has consistently shown that the artists feed off of the proximity to the same extent. In turn, performances housed within its walls tend to feel a lot more like a house party than a big hall concert. In short, the 8X10 is a can’t miss venue and for funk fans, Orgone and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk would prove on this night that they are can’t miss bands.
Orgone is an eight piece band from Los Angeles that plays cutting edge funk interspersed with old school R&B with Latin infusion. Fronted by the powerful and soulful voice of Fanny Franklin, the outfit is reminiscent of a grittier feeling Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.
Though Orgone has been making music for over a decade, they are making strides in leaps and bounds in terms of recognition on the national funk scene. Carrying a two piece horn section consisting of Darren Cardoza on trombone and Devin Williams on trumpet, they are as tight as a fist. Stewart Killen plays a large percussion rig and is locked down with drummer Sam Halterman. Much of the band’s energy is derived from the guitar play of Sergio Rios, who rarely stops moving, and punctuates his funky rhythm playing with high energy solos. Rounding out the hard driving, funky rhythm section is Dan Hastie on keyboards and Tim Glum on bass. During their instrumentals, they pull off tight syncopated rhythm hits and can turn on the head of a pin. And though Franklin is a small person in size, the fact that her voice and presence is powerful enough to front this band of crushingly high energy funk grooves speaks volumes about the largeness of her voice and range thereof.
On this night, their burning version of the Meters “Aint No Use” highlighted an otherwise splendid opening for Dumpstaphunk and informed any funk-o-file in attendance to pass word to their brethren that Orgone are a must see.
The main course of the night was New Orleans’ own, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk. This funky quintet powerhouse has been together for nine years now, and although the band’s name starts with Ivan Neville, they are truly five equal parts.
The house was packed and the crowd was primed when Dumpsta hit the stage with their song “Liar” that features Tony Hall on lead vocals and guitar. Drummer Ray Weber is the back bone of this band, doing as a drummer should in a band that fancies deep improvisation as Dumpstaphunk does. His brilliantly coagulated rhythms provided the pocket for the ensembles’ two bass players, veteran Nick Daniels III and the aforementioned Hall (when not on guitar), to reside when vacation time was over.
The band’s steady guitarist is Ivan’s cousin, Ian Nevilleâ€”a study in funk rhythm guitar playing. Although he did take a couple of solos through the night, his main focus was, as it tends to be, re-voicing chords and letting his right hand become a major player in the band’s funky grooves. Meanwhile, there was of course Ivan who filled the room with warm sustained tones from his Hammond B-3 organ while punctuating that with stabbing solos on his Honer Clavinet.
Ivan, Tony, Nick and Ray all take turns at lead vocals, often in the same song, and work marvelous harmonies together. Within vocal harmony is where Dumpstaphunk truly separates itself from the pack. Many funk bands fall a little short on vocals, but not these cats. Rather their synchronization is often featured as this company’s driving force.
The band ran many of their standards such as Parliament’s “Unfunky UFO,” and Dumpsta originals “Deeper,” “Living In A World Gone Mad” and the lyrically heavy and mantra-inspiring “Put It In The Dumpsta.”
As the show progressed, the band was struck by the date’s proximity to Mardi Gras. Only one thing could be done: start a set of Mardi Gras tunes. As the opening number of this off the cuff setâ€”“Big Chief”â€”wound down, Ray Weber kept the groove going and the band started calling tunes and deciding keys on the fly. Running through “Ooh Nah Nay” and “Injuns, Here We Come.” The tightness and intimacy of Dumpstaphunk really shined as they played these songs like they had been rehearsing them for days.
“Meanwhile” wrapped the night and as is par for the number in the live setting, it featured a highlight moment when Tony Hall and Nick Daniels faced each other for a bass-off of sorts that owned the night. It also brought out guitarist Cris Jacobs of the locally huge and nationally known, The Bridge. Between the face off and the sit-in, the crowd was whipped into nothing short of a frenzy; providing a perfect ending to a dirty funk set performed by one of the best of the best, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk.