The Krewe of Tucks’ Funky Uncle Lounge was envisioned as a rolling stage, a way to “bring funk to the people” during the parade and at pop-up concerts around town.
But during the coronavirus pandemic, the Funky Uncle Lounge has hosted much more music by staying put.
Since April, the float has served as the backdrop for a weekly livestream concert from the Tucks den. “Fridays From the Funky Uncle” airs every Friday at 7 p.m. on Facebook, YouTube and Twitch.
Past performances, archived at www.fridaysfromthefunkyuncle.com, have featured Flow Tribe, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Mem Shannon, Papa Mali, Erica Falls, the Brass-a-Holics, Nigel Hall, the New Orleans Suspects and a dozen more.
This week’s artist is the Dana Abbott Band, in what will be only the second performance by Abbott and company since the shutdown of live music venues commenced in March.
The livestream is free to watch; donations are accepted. Also, a live-action painting by Oak Street denizen Randy “Frenchy” Frechette is auctioned off after every show.
What distinguishes “Fridays From the Funky Uncle” from many other livestreams is the technical quality of the production. With multiple cameras, high-end stage lighting and sound gear, and a professional crew, the livestream is more like a TV show.
The series grew out of an ongoing creative collaboration between businessman and philanthropist Chris Beary and Cristian Duque, the guitarist and singer in local funk band the Soul Project.
Hailing from very different backgrounds, they bonded over funk music.
Born in Chile, Duque grew up in New Jersey during heavy metal’s 1980s heyday. “I didn’t know funk existed,” he recalled recently. I didn’t know until I got here.”
His ears were opened one night at Tipitina’s by Meters bassist George Porter Jr. & the Runnin’ Pardners. Duque got a job working the door at Tipitina’s in 2000. “I got my whole education right there,” he said.
He spent three years at Tip’s, until he joined Walter “Wolfman” Washington & the Roadmasters. He still sits in with the Roadmasters at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, but is focused on Soul Project.
Duque met Beary when Soul Project was booked for a pre-parade party hosted by the Tucks sub-krewe the Fat Bankers’ Social Aid & Pleasure Club, which Beary co-founded. A New Orleans native, Beary practiced law for 25 years and has been involved in health care, construction, real estate, restaurants, gaming and other business ventures. He also founded Grace At The Greenlight, a nonprofit that assists the homeless.