ANY PLAYER WITH BIG EASY EXPERIENCE
knows a visit to New Orleans is incomplete until you drop
in on Papa Grows Funk’s venerable residency at the Maple
Leaf on Monday night. At the root is Marc Pero, whose
projectile slap & pop and ferocious fingerstyle rumble resonates
all around Uptown. Luminaries from all eras and
genres appear onstage and in the audience. R&B icon Allen
Toussaint and bassist Tom Drummond from alt rockers
Better Than Ezra each produced approximately half of
PGF’s relentless new booty breaker, Needle in the Groove.
| PAPA GROWS FUNK
Who was your greatest teacher?
Vinyl. I got my groove from Verdine White. When my uncle
gave my dad Rocks, Pebbles and Sand by Stanley Clarke, and I
heard Louis Johnson’s guest appearance on “We
that was it. Johnson’s sound was so wicked that I could not
believe it was a bass. I had no idea that the tone was coming
from a Music Man, but it became my goal to sound like him.
The title track from the Reddings’ album “The
just bass and drums, but it’s the most incredible thing
ever hear. Dexter Redding is Otis’ son. I had to learn his bass
part. It was literally an awakening for me.
Did you hear a lot of George Porter Jr.’s NOLA-style
funk on Meters tunes growing up in Baton Rouge?
Strangely, I was never ever exposed to that. It was just
far enough away. Heck, Randy Jackson is from Baton Rouge,
but he was never an influence till much later.
You slap with a flick of the wrist. The motion is almost
like a “hang loose” gesture, and the rapid-fire result can
sound like a machine gun. Who inspired that?
My slap style comes from Louis Johnson and—
believe it or not—Mark King. I hold my right hand over
the fingerboard where it meets the body and use that as
a springboard for my thumb. If you slap further down,
it’s not as percussive.
You achieve extra percussiveness from your fretting
hand. Where did you pick that up, and how do you execute?
I kind of hammer-slap with fingers 2 through 4 while
my 1st finger is barred wherever. I picked that up from
Prince’s playing on “Let’s Work” and
“Lady Cab Driver.”
He’s constantly working in percussive additions with his
What are a couple of your favorite lines from Needle
in the Groove?
“Planet of Love & Hate” is a good example of my
style. “Rollo” is another. Lots of my songs have Sanford
Son connotations and inferences. “Rollo” is pretty much
an easy E groove that would make you imagine Lamont
and Rollo driving down the road bobbing their heads to it
[laughs]. I wrote another called “Fish-Eyed Fool,” which is
something Esther used to say. It’s on PGF’s second studio
release as well as Live at the Leaf.
in the Groove
Krewe, 2012]; Func Haus,
11/27/11 (DVD) [Indpt/2012]
Basses F Bass BN5, ’77
Fender Jazz Bass Reissue
modiﬁ ed with AGC/East
Rig Phil Jones M-500
head and 8T & 16B
cabinets (24x5), EBS