Chris Beary, the 2022 King of Tucks XXXI and also FunkyUncle.Live’s founder & executive producer, holds up a limited-edition vinyl LP of local music recorded during the ‘Fridays from the Funky Uncle’ pandemic concert series. Only 4,000 copies of the LP were pressed and they will only be available during the Krewe of Tucks parade this Saturday, February 26th! This article was written by Keith Spera and featured on NOLA.com and can be read HERE!
For fans of New Orleans music, the most coveted throw this Carnival season isn’t plastic or aluminum or a coconut. It’s vinyl.
On Saturday, riders on the Krewe of Tucks’ first seven floats will hand out 4,000 copies of an LP called “The Immunofunk Vaccination: Fridays From the Funky Uncle, Vol. One.”
Printed on colored vinyl by New Orleans Record Press, “The Immunofunk Vaccination” features eight 2020 pandemic-era recordings from the “Fridays From the Funky Uncle” livestream concert series.
Cha Wa, Erica Falls, Sam Price & the True Believers, Russell Batiste & Friends, the Joe Krown Trio featuring Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Wayne Maureau, the New Orleans Suspects, John “Papa” Gros and the Brass-A-Holics each contributed a track.
The album is the latest music-related initiative from the Funky Tucks Group, the Tucks sub-krewe whose co-founder, Chris Beary, is also the 2022 Tucks king.
The 200 riders of the Funky Tucks Group populate the parade’s funk-themed floats: the Funky Uncle Lounge, which is essentially a rolling music club, and the tandem unit consisting of the Funky Tucks, Love Child and Funky Fox floats.
Those floats, as well as Beary’s king float, the queens’ float and visual artist Frenchy’s float, will be the only ones distributing “The Immunofunk Vaccination” as Tucks rolls on the Uptown route Saturday starting at noon.
“We think,” Beary said, “that it will be the best Mardi Gras throw ever.”
A funky family affair
Founded in 1969 by Loyola University students and named in honor of the Uptown bar Friar Tucks, Tucks is big on potty humor. Fun and philanthropy are the Funky Tucks Group’s dual pursuits, as personified by Beary.
A New Orleans native, he 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.
His history with the irreverent Krewe of Tucks runs deep. He was 17 when he first rode in 1983, then took another spin four years later.
In 1993, he recruited a dozen friends to ride together and was appointed a float captain, a post he’s held ever since. “We grew from 12 to 200 riders,” he said of the Funky Tucks Group.
Beary was an obvious choice to be Tucks’ king, but he waited until this year, after his youngest daughter turned 18 and could thus serve as co-queen with her older sisters. Caroline, Claire and Mary Catherine “M.C.” Beary will all reign as Tucks queens Saturday. (The fourth Beary sister, Claiborne, is away at college).
“There’s no reason why you can’t have more than one queen,” Beary said, noting that multiple queens is in keeping with Tucks’ “non-conformist” worldview.
“A substantial part of my life has been Mardi Gras. I grew up one house away from the parade route. To be involved with Tucks has been an honor. To be king and allow my daughters to be the queens, it’s unbelievable.”
He’ll ride atop Tucks’ royal “throne” – a giant toilet – in pink and purple vestments. His “crown” is a top hat modeled after the one Dr. John wore on the cover of the 1974 album “Desitively Bonnaroo,” Beary’s favorite funk album.
His purple short-shorts are adorned with depictions of the Meters, Professor Longhair, James Booker, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint.
His cape sports the emblems of the “Big Daddy Funk” king’s beads and the “One Family Under a Groove” queens’ beads.
From Funky Uncle to float
His and his fellow Funky Tucks Group members’ fondness for local music in general and funk in particular is manifested in the Funky Uncle Lounge.
The float, painted in Tipitina’s yellow, debuted in 2018 and is equipped with a bust of Professor Longhair and a sound system worthy of a music club. Images of Art Neville, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, James Booker, George Porter Jr. and other local icons line its sides.
During Saturday’s parade, the Funky Uncle Allstars will perform on the float’s 10’x10’ stage. The audio feed will also be broadcast via Bluetooth to Beary’s king float.
In 2020, at the suggestion of Galactic guitarist Jeff Raines, a large banana inspired by the Tipitina’s logo was hung from the back of the Funky Uncle Lounge. Its blue Chiquita-like “sticker” contains a silhouette of a “crazyhorse mongoose,” a reference to a song on the first Galactic album.
Posters from the “Fridays From the Funky Uncle” concert series decorate the float’s upper deck, testament to the wide range of bands the series has presented since the early days of the pandemic.
The Funky Uncle Lounge served as the backdrop for the weekly livestream from the Tucks den. When music venues reopened last fall, the series moved to the Howlin’ Wolf and other rooms.
At each show, Frenchy created a live painting, which he then donated for sale. The 100 shows to date have raised $625,000 that was distributed to 800 musicians and gig workers.
Beary and Cristian Duque, the guitarist and singer in local funk band Soul Project, initially conceived of the concert series. Duque and Beary would later select the tracks for “The Immunofunk Vaccination.”
The front cover, created by Tucks float artist Damon Bowie, depicts a cartoon version of Duque symbolically escaping a backdrop of Hurricane Katrina, COVID and a shuttered Tipitina’s.
Duque and Jason Neville helped write the album’s lone studio recording, “Here Comes Mr. Mardi Gras,” which originated with a poem Beary wrote in honor of the late float-building legend Blaine Kern Sr. The Funky Uncle Allstars surprised Kern’s family with a performance of “Here Comes Mr. Mardi Gras” during a “Fridays From the Funky Uncle” show in the summer of 2020.
The Fat Bankers’ Social Aid & Pleasure Club, the business entity that supports the Funky Tucks Group’s endeavors, covered the cost of printing up the 4,000 copies of “The Immunofunk Vaccination.”
The music can be heard on Spotify and iTunes, but the physical LP will only be given away during Saturday’s parade.
“In the spirit of Mardi Gras, we wanted everything to be free,” Beary said. “We like to give funk away. That’s what we’re all about.”–Watch our next Funky Uncle Show LIVE from the Howlin’ Wolf at 7pm CST, or stream it on our website! www.funkyuncle.live