Ten New Orleans Funk Bands for October 5--National Funky Day

07:00 October 03, 2023
By: Schyler Vicknair

Get Funky This October 5

Though New Orleans is known as the Birthplace of Jazz, Funk music also traces its roots to the city--we even have our own Funk Fest. Funk was created in the 1960s and combines influences ranging from blues, jazz, soul, R&B, and almost every genre popular at the time.

Bands to Check Out

1. The Funky Meters


[The Funky Meters Facebook]

The Funky Meters are a funk band formed in 1965 in New Orleans by Zigaboo Modeliste, George Porter Jr., Leo Nocentelli and Art Neville. They created a unique sound that persisted through the seventies and was reborn in the eighties.

Top Hits include "Cissy Strut", "Just Kissed My Baby," "Hand Clapping Song," "Tippi-Toes," and "Stormy." Their sound blends funk, blues, and a dance groove with a New Orleans flair.

2. Galactic

[Galactic Facebook]

This American jam band formed in 1996 in New Orleans. Members include guitarist Jeff Raines, bassist Robert Mercurio, drummer Stanton Moore, Hammond organist Rich Vogel, Theryl DeClouet on vocals, and saxophonist Ben Ellman.

Galactic's unique sound melds rock, funk, brass band, blues, jazz, hip hop, electronic, and world music. Many songs include performances by other artists of various styles of music, like hip-hop artists.

3. Wild Magnolias

[The Wild Magnolias Facebook]

The Wild Magnolias are a Mardi Gras Indian Tribe that also performs as a funk goup. The group was formed as early as the fifties, but reached a commercial peak in the seventies and have been evolving ever since.

The single entitled "Handa Wanda" remains a Mardi Gras classic.

4. Tank & the Bangas

[Tank & the Bangas Facebook]

This group formed in the early 2010s when Tarriona "Tank" Ball met Norman Spence and Joshua Johnson at the New Orleans open-mic night Liberation Lounge. Tank & the Bangas have become widely loved after their 2017 NPR Tiny Desk Concert Appearance, and have since performed at Coachella and Bonaroo.

They are performing October 8 at the Main Stage Rooftop at 8 p.m.

5. Papa Grows Funk

[Papa Grows Funk Facebook]

Papa Grows Funk was formed in New Orleans in the 2000s after a numerous Monday Night jam sessions at the Maple Leaf Bar. The band consists of frontman Jon "Papa" Gros, guitarist June Yamagishi, sax player Jason Mingledorf, bassist Marc Pero and drummer Jeffery "Jellybean" Alexander.

Top hits include "Doin' It," "Shakin," "Live at the Leaf," "Mr. Patterson's Hat," "Needle in the Groove," and "The Last Leaf," (live).

6. Cha Wa

[Cha Wa Facebook]

This Mardi Gras Indian funk band was founded in 2014 in New Orleans and has since been Grammy-nominated twice. The name, Cha Wa references a slang phrase used by Mardi Gras Indian Tribes, meaning, "here we come."

They have released three albums: Funk n Feathers in 2016, Spyboy in 2018, and My People in 2021, with the latter two being nominated for Best Regional Roots Album. Cha Wa's sound blends funk, second-line, and jam band genres.

7. The Neville Bros.

[The Nelville Brothers Facebook]

This funk group synthesizes soul and funk and was founded in New Orleans in 1976 when brothers Art, Charles, Aaron, and Cyril recorded with the Wild Tchoupitoulas.

They have released nine studio albums, five live albums, and six compilation albums. Top hits include, "Yellow Moon," "Bird on a Wire," "Voodoo," "A Change is Gonna Come," and "With God On Our Side."

8. Dirty Dozen Brass Band

[Dirty Dozen Brass Band Facebook]

This ensemble was founded in New Orleans in 1977 by Benny Jones and Members of the Tornado Brass Band. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band fuses funk and bepop into traditional jazz and recently won the Grammy Award for Best American Roots Performance.

The group was also featured in the 2005 documentary Make it Funky!

9. Water Seed

[Water Seed Facebook]

Water Seed's music has been affectionately known as "future funk." It incorporates elements of pop, R&B, hip-hop, electronic, music, and rock.

The group has released four studio albums and are winners of the 2023 Best Easy Award for Best Funk Band. If you're looking for the bleeding edge of funk, look no further than Water Seed.

10. New Orleans Suspects

[New Orleans Suspects Facebook]

This group was formed as a pick-up band at the Maple Leaf in New Orleans in 2009. Over the years they have become a local favorite and by 2011 they began touring full time. They have released five studio length albums and are set to release a sixth in 2023. The group is made up by artists Eric Vogel, Eddie Christmas, CR Gruver, Brad Walker, and Jake Eckert.

To Wrap Things Up

In summary, numerous beloved funk groups trace their heritage and musical influences back to New Orleans. Funk lyrics cover a broad range of topics, and you are sure to find a song to impress this National Funk Day on October 5.

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