There’s something to be said for how adjacency to greatness can (and often does) beget its own spectacular results. Just ask Nikki Glaspie, who spent five years touring as Beyoncé’s drummer, or Ivan Neville, who was born and raised in New Orleans by the famed Neville Brothers. In the past, you could’ve even asked Nikki and Ivan together, when they were jamming as members of Dumpstaphunk.
Or, better yet, you could’ve tossed out that query for a good cause when those two returned to share the stage—along with a whole host of musicians—for the Peace Love & Funk Benefit Concert featuring The Nth Power, Ivan Neville and Friends at The Mint in Los Angeles in early January.
With comedian Ben Gleib playing master of ceremonies, Nikki, Ivan and as many as eight other players packed the modest stage inside the intimate bar and restaurant on Pico Boulevard for an evening of fun, funk and a few laughs in support of the Harold Robinson Foundation.
Nikki and Ivan did their parts to fuel the festivities with their sonic talents. Nikki banged away on the drums and offered supporting vocals on Nth Power tracks, including “Only Love” from 2015’s Abundance. Ivan tickled the keys with his deft touch and belted out on the mic throughout the set, with a starring role on Dumpstaphunk’s “No More Okey Doke.”
But the core of the two-set show was a jubilant revue of all-time classics redeployed with a new purpose. And as much as Nikki and Ivan did to lend their credibility and incredible abilities to the proceedings, it was the other musicians who joined them that made the night so memorable.
There was no shortage of standout support, particularly from Rashawn Ross of the Dave Matthews Band, who lent his skills to the proceedings. Even Ben Gleib, though hardly a virtuoso, had some fun playing the tune to Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Got Your Money” on kazoo coming out of intermission.
By and large, though, it was Nikki’s bandmates from the Nth Power—singer and guitarist Nick Cassarino and bassist Nate Edgar—who shouldered the lode so ably throughout the show. Cassarino, in particular, crooned his way through The Spinner’s “I’ll Be Around,” The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You,” The Whisperer’s “Rock Steady,” Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Shining Star” and “That’s the Way of the World” and Isley, Jasper, Isley’s “Caravan of Love”—which Nikki dubbed the “song of 2019.”
The best part of the whole performance, though, was what it was all for. Through the Harold Robinson Foundation, the proceeds from Peace Love & Funk will be put toward sending underprivileged kids from LA’s inner city to Camp Ubuntu, for a weekend of outdoor adventure, and bringing free music education into their communities.
With a mission like that, even a half-decent evening of music and comedy would’ve been plenty. Given all the greatness on display at The Mint, those who were fortunate enough to attend were treated to an experience that would fill up their hearts and souls alike.
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