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Published: 2013/01/29

Art Neville’s Funky 75th Birthday Party

The Nevilles featuring Art, Charles and Cyril Neville were joined by Ivan Neville, Ian Neville, Tony Hall, “Mean” Willie Green, Brian Stoltz and Dr. John for Art “Poppa Funk” Neville’s 75th birthday party at Tipitina’s in New Orleans this past Saturday. The core band consisted of all five of the above members of the extended Neville family, Green and Hall, with Stoltz sitting in for most of the set. The band played a number of classics from throughout Art’s career, including Meters staples like “Fiyo on the Bayou,” “Hey Pocky Way” and “Cabbage Alley,” as well as his 1954 Hawketts hit “Mardi Gras Mambo.” There were also plenty of Neville Brothers tunes like “Junkman” and “Rock N Roll Is The Child of Rhythm and Blues” mixed between standards like The Wild Magnolias’ “New Suit” and The Champs’ “Tequila.”

The evening also had a couple surprises, just as any good birthday should. The audience was filled with a few special guests like Deacon John, Papa Mali, Galactic’s Ben Ellman and hometown hero Dr. John, who joined the fray during the second half of the show for a performance of his classic “Right Place Wrong Time” However the highlight of the evening might have been Art’s wife Lorraine’s secret present to her husband. Toward the end of the night, Poppa Funk was approached by two young birthday cake-wielding burlesque dancers as Charles went into the saxophone riff for “Happy Birthday.” Art was clearly taken aback by the gift, which was a great way to bring the party full circle before an encore rendition of Earl King’s New Orleans classic “Big Chief.”

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