There can only be one first family of funk and once this train stops rolling, we’ll be left to cherish the memories of the times we were there to see it live, along with a long, winding and soul-moving trail of live and studio recordings. The Neville Brothers, a crown jewel of the Big Easy’s rich musical history and the long-time bookend to the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, have served as musical ambassadors of NOLA for over three-and-a-half decades. As editor of the Live Music Blog: NOLA site for the past 18 months and a recent transplant to L.A., I can speak from personal experience in telling you that The Neville Brothers’ ability to create music that instills a rarefound, palpable spiritual unity in a crowd of strangers is what has made them such an easy, go-to choice as festival closer for Jazz Fest for such a long stretch. Moreover, a summer time show at the Bowl will be a fitting parting memory if it turns out to be the last chance to see these four play together.
The 2012 inductees into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame will be making their final stop in Los Angeles to bid farewell on Wednesday for what should be an emotionally-wrought and powerful performance at the legendary Hollywood Bowl. Fittingly, next generation superstars Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue will perform before – a symbolic passing of the torch. Shorty’s set isn’t to be missed so make sure you get there early, as it promises to be an opening set light years beyond what newcomers are likely expecting from an opening act and a great way to watch the sun set on a Wednesday night. Finally, in true New Orleans fashion the chances of seeing Shorty pop back out for a song or two during the Nevilles set are pretty high because, well, that’s just how things are done on the bayou.
A Brief History of the Neville Brothers
The Neville Brothers have helped embed New Orleans blues and funk into the global music culture over the course of an extraordinary career that has spanned the last 35 years. Holding a reputation as first-rank showmen and soul-funk shamans, The Neville Brothers Art, Charles, Aaron and Cyril – deliver a trademark of blues-soaked and deep funk grooves. Each of the brothers had his own individual music career until the death of their beloved mother Amelia brought them together as a singular unit, forming The Neville Brothers in 1977. Within the next two years they landed their debut album on Capitol Records. From then until the current day, the group has stuck together recording, touring and entertaining audiences everywhere. Alongside the group, each of the four brothers have been pursuing projects of their own; Art continues to tour with an offshoot group of The Meters known as the funky METERS, Charles has recorded a series of critically acclaimed jazz records, Aaron has forged a highly successful solo career and Cyril has a new project with Devon Allman he recently launched called The Royal Southern Brotherhood. Also, Cyril has appeared with contemporary New Orleans funk band Galactic and Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars extensively over the past few years.
The Future: New Generations of Nevilles Carrying on a Legendary Family’s Good Name
However, just because The Neville Brothers are nearing the end of their epic run doesn’t mean the family tradition of bringing funk to the masses will end anytime soon. Two generations of Nevilles are well-represented in Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, a band sprouting from a healthy foundation laid down by their elders and building a new legacy all their own. Dumpstaphunk is the premiere funk band operating out of New Orleans and it is only a short matter of time before the world at-large begins to fully embrace their more rock-leaning double bass funk sound. Aaron’s son Ivan fronts the band and his grandson Ivan lays it down on the guitar. Keep your ears peeled, as Dumpstaphunk are set to release their 2nd LP Dirty Word early this fall, a record that will feature an impressive litany of special guests including Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers and should help get them some much-deserved national attention and radio play going forward.