• 149 WESTCHESTER AVENUE, PORT CHESTER, NY 10573-4549 · (914) 937-4126

  • August 31st, 2018

    reCAP :: Foundation of Funk :: 2018.08.23

    Words by: Ryan Hall
    Photos by: Dino Perrucci

    New Orleans…the Big Easy…down on the Bayou…

    That’s a city that has an energy all its own. Apart from so many beautiful memories of huge college football games for my Alabama Crimson Tide, most of the energy comes from the amazing music born on the Bayou.

    The Capitol Theatre got a big, heaping, honkin’ spoonful of New Orleans funk last week courtesy of the Foundation of Funk. After two hours of bayou nastiness (and I mean that in the most glowing of terms) I left The Cap absolutely exhausted but energized! And I knew without a doubt that I witnessed masters at their craft.

    The Foundation of Funk show is a tribute to 50 years of the iconic New Orleans band The Meters. And they featured two original Meters members…and oh, am I going to give them some love in this reCAP.

    The first family of Big Easy funk is the Neville Family. Thursday’s show featured some absolutely inspired keyboard work and vocals by Ivan Neville – the son of legendary singer Aaron Neville and the nephew of Meters’ founding member Art Neville. There’s something about a Hammond B3 run through a Leslie speaker cabinet dialed in just right that will punch you in your soul. And Ivan’s rig may have had the best B3 sound I have ever heard. He hit a couple licks that literally punched me in the chest. And y’all, I’ve heard a lot of killer B3 players in my life. My late father was one of them. I can’t say I’ve ever heard a sweeter sounding Hammond Organ setup than I heard from Ivan Neville. Ivan’s younger brother Ian handled some pretty nasty guitar work. Primarily, he stayed in the pocket with some rhythm licks. But occasionally he stepped out and took a solo. He really fattened up the middle of their sound.

    Speaking of guitar, I have to talk about Tony Hall. And I’m not just singling him out because he and my late father share a name and are or were both musicians, but his playing just blew me away. I don’t think he used many effects. I don’t think he even used a lot of Wah-Wah pedal. But God, was he on point! Just his simple Strat plugged into an amplifier…y’all, what funk band doesn’t have chunky rhythm guitar? That was Tony Hall! Nice name, by the way.

    Speaking of Neville, I’ve gotta give some love to Cyril Neville. He’s the long-time lead vocalist of the Neville Brothers band, as well as an acclaimed solo artist. When Zigaboo introduced him (and y’all, I’ve got a lot of praise for him) Cyril had what appeared to be a roadie helping him to the front of the stage. I honestly thought I was going to see something that would make me sad – an old man hanging on to his past for dear life. But I’m really glad I was wrong! Cyril turns 70 in October. And he’s got the energy of a man half his age. And he’s still in tip-top voice. That was a sight to behold.

    The band that is The Foundation of Funk sports the original Meters rhythm section: George Porter Jr. on the bass and Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste on drums. One can argue that George and Zigaboo are two of the most influential musicians in music history. Let’s start with George. Aside from his work with The Meters (which is iconic) he’s played with practically everybody. From Paul McCartney and Patti Labelle to Lionel Hampton and Gov’t Mule, he’s played with absolutely everybody. I guess you could call him the foundation of the Foundation of Funk. He kept the low end on point and driving like a freight train all night. And I guess it doesn’t hurt matters for a bass player that he was playing with a drummer that he’s played with since LBJ was president. Speaking of the drums… James Brown’s drummer Clyde Stubblefield is the most sampled drummer of all time. But Zigaboo isn’t that far behind. He’s brought the New Orleans second line to mainstream music, and he’s an absolute institution. When legends like Tower of Power’s David Garibaldi cite you as an influence, you know you’ve made your mark. From the very first song the Foundations played Thursday night, you knew it was Zigaboo holding down the drum chair.

    For the most part, the setlist was the Meters’ greatest hits. Songs like Hand Clapping Song and Be My Lady were particularly memorable. Fire on the Bayou (perhaps my favorite Meters’ song) was smoking hot! And I was taken aback by one song they played. I honestly didn’t know they recorded a cover of the Beatles’ Come Together. Y’all…so much funk! But from the very first notes of Cissy Strut, I knew I was in for a magical journey! Tell me Zigaboo’s groove on that song hasn’t been sampled…y’know…a lot? They took off on probably a 15-minute jam that was a sight to behold. Truly a magical journey. And Cissy Strut had an indirect influence on my new book. Just sayin’.

    If this group heads your way, go see them! They bring a legendary sound, intense energy, and soul for weeks to the stage. Those who came out to the Cap on a Thursday night all had one funky good time! New Orleans holds a special place in my heart. Funk music has a special place in my soul. The Bayou comes to New York! This displaced Southern Boy felt right at home! What a funky night!