Papa Grows Funk: Mr. Patterson’s Hat


“You might think you’re throwing down, but if Mr. Patterson ain’t dancin’, you ain’t groovin’,” says John “Papa” Gros, Hammond B3 player and vocalist for New Orleans funk band Papa Grows Funk. “When you see that hat bobbing up and down and moving side to side, you know you’re doing New Orleans music right.” On their third studio album, Mr. Patterson’s Hat (the title is a tribute to a local auto mechanic who haunts the local bars and music venues), Papa Grows Funk mostly does it right, displaying great respect for the musical traditions of the Crescent City, from funk to blues to R&B to jazz and beyond.

They’re not the absolute funkiest band around, as many of their press materials claim, but they bring an impressive array of influences, new and old, to the table, including—but certainly not limited to—Dr. John, Allen Touissant, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and other New Orleans brass and street bands, Galactic and the entire Neville family. Driven by a chunky rhythm and slap bass, “Gorillafaceugmopotamus!” and “Stanky,” both written by bassist Marc Pero, offer the deepest funk on the album. Other highlights include a tribute to a significant local character on the music scene who’s still around after Katrina (“John Brown”); impassioned pleas to end police violence (“Tootie Montana”) and to fully understand the problems in New Orleans before diagnosing a solution (“Walk in Our Shoes”); a jaunty, bluesy tune with a big-band vibe (“Slapjack”); and the chanting, call-out choruses of “Rite Rite.”

Though isn’t as explosive as the band’s live shows, Mr. Patterson’s Hat is an admirable tribute to post-Katrina New Orleans that will appeal to locals and to fans of contemporary funk and soul.

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