The Rumble: Keeping the Funk Going, New Orleans-Style

The Rumble: Keeping the Funk Going, New Orleans-Style

Written by Ray Chelstowski

In case you missed it, funk is back and may be poised to be even stronger than it was in the 1970s. Ignited by a connection to the jam band world, bands like Lettuce and Galactic and individual artists like Cory Wong are quickly drawing attention to a music form with remarkable roots and a level of musicianship that rivals jazz and other genres that demand serious chops. Regardless of where funk may move, its American origins remain strongly rooted in New Orleans, where bands like The Meters created music that is timeless in its capacity to make us move. The spirit of these NOLA acts lives on with the seven-member band, The Rumble, where their approach unapologetically touches every one of your senses.

Formed out of another legendary New Orleans band, Cha Wa, The Rumble completely immerses the listener into the culture of New Orleans, and their commitment to preserving the music and art of the Crescent City sit at the center of what their mission was about from the beginning. Composed of Second Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr. of the Golden Eagles, trumpeter Aurélien Barnes, trombonist José Maize Jr., bassist TJ Norris, guitarist Ari Teitel, keyboardist Andriu Yanovski, and drummer Trenton O’Neal, the band create a form of funk that is anchored in tradition yet made modern with elements of hip-hop, jazz, and R&B.

Their debut record Live From The Maple Leaf has just been nominated for a Grammy award in the category of Best Regional Roots Album. In celebration of that impressive nod, the band is releasing a vinyl bundle which includes a double 12-inch record paired with a limited-edition screen-printed poster featuring artwork by artist Rob Winchester.



The Rumble, Live From The Maple Leaf, album cover.


Copper caught up with Ari Teitel and Trenton O’Neal to talk about how the band was formed, what their vision is for where things can go, and – in addition to a good amount of touring – what 2024 has in store for a band that has quickly caught the attention of many and is armed with a caliber of talent that has the potential to take funk further than it’s ever been.

Ray Chelstowski: The Rumble was formed out of the band Cha Wa. What does this new construct allow that you weren’t able to explore with your old band?

Ari Teitel: Total and complete musical freedom, and that’s inherent with every band member having an ownership stake in the band. It allows a total democracy to exist. In some ways it can be tougher because there are seven people fighting for their ideas to be heard, but ultimately it results in the best music possible because it’s so collaborative.


RC: How do you ensure that happens and that every voice is heard?

Trenton O’Neal: Through weekly meetings. You have to meet, talk through things, and voice opinions. I think it’s important to be comfortable with your band as well. We spend a lot of time together in vehicles touring so it’s important that we trust each other’s opinions and when you do it makes for a really cohesive group.

RC: When you decided to form the band was there a vision that you collectively had for what it could or would become?

TO: It’s interesting to hear you ask that, because we constantly think about that and are about to have another meeting about vision. That’s evolved as we have [evolved] as musicians. The talent in the band is very precise. There are players in this band who have worked with really big-name acts. I think that and the work we are doing in this community are opening all kinds of doors. But the main vision is to preserve the culture and music of New Orleans.

AT: I think we all knew that we could expand what we were doing with Cha Wa while preserving black and indigenous ownership in the band, while also maintaining a cultural integrity. We saw the success we were having with Cha Wa and felt we could do that on an even larger scale. We felt that if we were the owners we could do it even better.

RC: What prompted you to make your debut a live record?

AT: We knew our live show is kind of our calling card, and it provides this kind of holistic New Orleans experience. If you go to a show you’re going to see and hear elements of Mardi Gras Indians, of brass bands, of the New Orleans funk tradition, and even modern jazz, hip-hop and R&B. When you’re in it it’s an incredible thing. We wanted to be able to capture that, especially at the Maple Leaf Bar where there’s such a palpable energy in the room. That was also the first place that we played. The band debuted in 2022 with a five-Wednesday residence. We played all five Wednesdays leading up to Mardi Gras. That became our home base, and we wanted to take some of the songs we wrote for Cha Wa and show everyone how we perform them; what The Rumble identity is of those songs.


RC: What current drummers and guitarists inspire you?

TO: I’ve been following a bunch of different people but I’m digging on Blake Smith right now and his use of the pocket. I’ve also been listening to this New Orleans legend that just passed this year, [drummer] Russell Batiste Jr. He brought such an energy to the music. But there are a lot of people I follow.

AT: In New Orleans I love Ian Neville. I think he’s very underrated. I love Isaiah Sharkey, Erick Walls, Agape Jerry, and there’s a young guy, Xavier Lynn, who’s really awesome. There’s also Marcus Machado, he’s a friend of mine and I love hearing him play and playing with him too.

RC: What prompted you to release this vinyl bundle and how did the artist Rob Winchester become involved with the project?

AT: Rob got in on the ground floor. As soon as we started the band we started contacting him for graphics. Our friendship goes back years with him and he’s always been an ardent supporter, and has always gone the extra mile when it comes to art and design for the band. He understands that our look and sound are unique and he really translates that through his art. 

Rob brought the bundle idea [of releasing our music] to us. He thought we should have a vinyl version because a lot of fans had been requesting it. Until then we had been printing CDs, and obviously they are an archaic form of media, and we thought, with the Grammy nomination it would be a great time to put this out; but do it as a double album and make it special.

RC: Some of the band members have been nominated for Grammy awards before. What made this one particularly special?

AT: This is my third [nomination] and it’s the one that hit me the hardest. I literally cried when I found out because I thought of all of the hard work that it took from all of us just to get here. The fact that everyone in the band had ownership and put in the work to make the album happen was really special. It was more than just playing on a record. When you are actually involved in the whole creative process it already feels like a win; not just for us but for everyone who has helped us along the way.

RC: The 2024 tour dates on your site are limited, and skewed toward the South. Do you have a plan to extend the number of dates and hit other regions?

AT: What’s on our site currently is an extremely small sampling of what you are going to see in 2024. We have a couple of festivals. In February we are doing the Olympia Funk Festival in Washington, and the Gasparilla Festival in Tampa. We also have a lot of unannounced festival and summer dates that are going to be announced soon, including an East Coast and a Mountain/West Coast run, so we’re going to be pretty busy.

RC: Is there any new music coming from the band in the New Year?

TO: Definitely. We’re working on a studio record. Interestingly enough, we recorded an album in 2022 and I’m really excited about the drop. I think if you enjoyed the live record you’ll really enjoy this.

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