Coney meets Carnival: Funk group celebrates Coney Island with a Big Easy sound • Brooklyn Paper

Coney meets Carnival: Funk group celebrates Coney Island with a Big Easy sound

Funked in Coney Island: Dave Clive, of Dave Clive’s Nawlins Funk Band, may play music from New Orleans, but his heart and home is in Brooklyn.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

This band is bringing the sounds of the Big Easy to the Big Apple — and taking listeners from the Boardwalk to Bourbon Street.

Dave Clive’s Nawlins Funk Band draws its name from the Crescent City, and is based in Sheepshead Bay — but its new album offers several tuneful tributes to Coney Island.

“Down in Brooklyn close to Sheepshead Bay, we do the Boardwalk boogie. There’s a place the whole world comes out to play, do the Boardwalk boogie, do the Boardwalk boogie, the Coney Island way,” are the lyrics to the fourth track. “Take a Cyclone ride, eat some Nathan’s Fries, on the Wonder Wheel you can touch the sky.”

Drummer and bandleader Dave Clive grew up in Manhattan, but his father’s family came from Brighton Beach, and the musician recalls visiting the Playground of the World with his dad many times in his youth.

“I always loved going to Coney Island,” said Clive. “My wife and I are still constantly there now.”

The son of a classical pianist, Clive studied jazz in high school and college, but kept an abiding affection for dirtier, dancier styles of music.

“Even as a kid, if you asked me what kind of music I liked, I liked funk,” said Clive.

Twenty-five years ago, Clive took a trip to New Orleans for the city’s Jazz and Heritage Festival. It turned out to be a fateful journey.

“It was almost a religious experience. When we got back, I said ‘I have to start a funk band; a New Orleans style funk band,’ ” Clive said.

So the stickman put an ad in the Village Voice, and assembled an ensemble with guitar, bass, sax, and piano to bring a bayou flavor to Brooklyn — which borough residents can see sample live when the band plays the Schnitzel Haus and 773 Lounge on April 5 and 6.

Clive believes that New Orleans and New York are a natural match, noting that famous Cajun-Creole musicians like Dr. John and Allen Toussaint have homes in both cities. He also pointed out that at the height of the jazz zge, New Orleans’s musician-haven Algiers was known as “the Brooklyn of the South,” since so many artists lived there and worked in the French Quarter — just as New York City musicians played gigs in the city but slept in the Borough of Kings.

The band’s new album, “Three Brothers,” also bridges the two cities, via a musical journey beginning in the People’s Playground with opening track “Carnivale in Coney Island” and winding up in Preservation Hall with the classic New Orleans blues number “Let the Good Times Roll.”

“It’s a voyage into Coney Island that ends up in the French Quarter,” said Clive.

Dave Clive’s Nawlin’s Funk Band at the Schnitzel Haus [7319 Fifth Ave. between 73rd and 74th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 836–5600, www.schnitzelhausny.com]. April 5 at 10 pm. Free; 773 Lounge [773 Coney Island Ave. between Cortelyou and Dorchester roads in Flatbush, (718) 462–9746, www.773lounge.com]. April 6 at 12 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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