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Live Local Music

A Conversation with Dumpstaphunk’s Ivan Neville

Posted by Alexandra Voigt on 03/07 at 01:14 PM

The evening showing of Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk at State College’s State Theatre February 23rd culminated with a prospering finish.  I, along with the surrounding surveyors in the theatre, have acquired an even more intense addiction to the fervent funk so eloquently executed by the band all night.  Yet, although the performance has seemingly been cut short in the onlookers’ eyes, I am stir crazy for what’s about to come.

Throughout the night I have been anxiously anticipating and (I hate to admit) have felt “butterflies in the stomach” nervous about the idea of a potential, brief interview with front man, Ivan Neville.  Son to Aaron Neville, a vocalist for the famous soul group The Neville Brothers, (which Ivan also played in for several years), Ivan has lived a culturally rich and musical life out of New Orleans since 1959. Therefore, he can be extremely intimidating to a simple music fanatic like myself.

To my pleasant surprise, he turns out to be quite the contrary.  I don’t have to search long before I run into the talented musician by the “merch” table.

Ivan Neville could possibly be one of the most openly friendly and outgoing people I have ever had the chance to meet.  Before I even attempt my own introduction, Ivan promptly throws out his right hand to shake mine and continues on to introduce himself and ask if I enjoyed the show.  That answer is pretty obvious.

After handing me a free Dumpstaphunk t-shirt—to which Ivan earlier joked to the audience, “It looks great on all the women!,” seeing as how the wording is conveniently displayed across the chest of the shirt—Ivan directs me backstage. While the other four band members are scrambling around and chatting with the members of Atlas Soundtrack, I jump into some brief questions for Ivan.

Purposely trying to avoid mentioning his age, Ivan describes his relationship with the other musicians in the band as “long term.”  Guitarist, Ian Neville, is another son of The Neville Brothers’ Art, and a cousin to Ivan.

At one point Ian walks over and pokes fun at Ivan for the countless kernels of popcorn sporadically thrown on and around Ivan, obviously nowhere near his mouth.  The bassist, Nick Daniels, sports a Jimi Hendrix shirt and grew up with Ivan since meeting him at the age of ten.

Ivan says Tony Hall, the second bassist, compliments and constitutes that characteristic aggressive bassline when mixed with Daniels’ bass.  Then, as I look over, Tony Hall appears in the doorway. So I ask the two where their true inspiration derived from, besides the evident influence of The Neville Brothers. The two then indulge about Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions and the many trends of early R&B and soul.

Ivan compares the old, innovative artists of the 1940s and 1950s and the birth of rock-and-roll to unoriginal music today.  I agreed with him in that an innocent passion and love for writing and playing music is very rare today.  It is now a drive for money and power and fame.

“The artistic part (of music) is suffering,” says Ivan, “a lot of today’s influential artists look back to the innovators—the people who first invented and created that distinct sound and continued to add on to it, shaping it.”

We both felt that most lyrics and melodies can be meaningless and monotonous, and therefore putting effort into the production of a song is almost unheard of.

Today’s generation of music is pretty conforming and identical to each other.  “It’s not as easy to find a great, original band that’s in it for the art and for the fun of it,” says Ivan.

This explains why none of the band members were upset over the small State College audience.  “We play music because we enjoy it.  It’s different every time we get up there,” Ivan says, “We’ll definitely be coming back here for a second show.” 

After thanking and wishing Ivan Neville and the rest of Dumpstaphunk a safe journey for the rest of their tour—and encouraging them to play at local summer festivals—I said goodbye and left with a grin as big as Dr. Seuss’s Cindy Lou Who.

{name} Author: Alexandra Voigt
Bio: [Alex] is currently a senior double majoring in Print Journalism and International Studies with a double minor in Music Technology and French. As random as all that may seem, Alex’s true passion lies within the art of music and the countless characteristics of rock and roll. Growing up to everything classic rock, she indulges in Led Zeppelin, The Doors, CCR, The Animals, Neil Young up through 90s grunge and today’s indie/folk rock and electro beats like: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Spoon, The Black Keys, TV on the Radio and Bassnectar!, (don’t turn away, that is only a taste of the list). Alex also loves using music programs like Logic Pro to mix, modulate and place different effects on songs, which is why electronic/techno and dubstep play an essential factor in her everyday life.

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