Spotlight: Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk
5PM, TOWN LAKE STAGE @ AUDITORUM SHORES
Just six weeks after Hurricane Katrina, more than two dozen New Orleans musicians gathered in Austin to record Sing Me Back Home, a star-studded tribute to the spirit of the Crescent City. The collective called themselves the New Orleans Social Club, although the New Orleans Therapy Group might have worked too. These were musicians thrown into transition, navigating a range of emotions that came with their homelessness and devastation, from fear and rage to uncertainty and hope.
"Everybody there was in limbo," says Neville, who's contributed an obscenely funky version of John Fogerty's "Fortunate Son" to the album. "There were guys with no idea where they'd live. There were people there being brought the first pictures of what happened to their houses. This little Austin recording studio became a safe haven for a lot of folks going through some really serious shit."
Given the sessions' timing, there's palpable urgency in tracks like John Boutte's searing reinterpretation of Annie Lennox's "Why?" and Cyril Neville's angry run though Curtis Mayfield's "This Is My Country." Just as obvious is the quality of the musicianship: the core of the New Orleans Social Club features Meters alumni George Porter Jr. and Leo Nocentelli, drummer Raymond Webber, and Neville and Henry Butler on keys.
"New Orleans music has always been great," says Neville, who's been living up the road in Georgetown post-Katrina. "Maybe now people are recognizing what they took for granted, but it took a fucking tragedy."
Even so, Neville says SXSW didn't have to ask twice for his band Dumpstaphunk to play the free Auditorium Shores NOLA showcase, where he'll reunite with the core of the New Orleans Social Club.
"It'll feel like home," he says. "When we're onstage playing New Orleans music, it's New Orleans. We take New Orleans with us. No hurricane can take that away from us.