As a storm ravages Louisiana, America’s racial disparity is once again laid bare, the president is mentally absent and, depending on the day, incompetent, indifferent or outright hostile. That’s the situation today, and it was the situation 15 years ago, when Hurricane Katrina and the inadequate federal response left the citizens of the Black-majority city of New Orleans flooded and fending for themselves. Ivan Neville and his band, Dumpstafunk, took stock of the situation and, in a new single out today, ask, “Where Do We Go from Here?”
“Many of us from this region who endured the aftermath of Katrina were asking ourselves this question 15 years ago, not knowing what the future would hold,” says founding member Ivan Neville. “Today we stand at another crossroads both in terms of the uncertainty of a worldwide pandemic, the political turmoil surrounding a meaningful social justice movement within a controversial election year, and generally the current climate of our existence. We as human beings are posed with the question once again…. ‘Where do we go from here?’”
Clocking in at over eight and a half minutes, “Where Do We Go From Here” hits a sweet spot between cathartic, danceable funk and a pleading cri de coeur—read that phrase with a New Orleans accent, would you?
Dumpstaphunk formed spontaneously at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2003, comprising Ivan and Ian Neville of the famous New Orleans Nevilles, Tony Hall and Nick Daniels on guitar, bass and vocals. Alex Wasily and Devin Trusclair joined to add trombone and drums respectively.
Fifteen years since Katrina, at the end of a summer that has lacked concerts and so much of everything else, but that once again drew our attention to the reality that Black Americans live in the shadow of unaccountable police violence and a pandemic that cuts along the divides that white supremacy—alive and well—upholds, it’s only natural to wonder “Where do we go from here?” Dumpstaphunk has an answer: “Go slow, no fear,” and take as much time as it takes.