Self promotional material for the Funky Butt Jazz Club. Photo taken from Funky Butt’s Twitter Page.
Funky Butt is a restaurant and jazz club located at 714 North Rampart Street. It was named after the original music hall where Buddy “King” Bolden and his band Funky Butt once played, which was called either Kinney’s Hall or McKenna’s Hall (Donald M. Marquis, “In Search of Buddy Bolden – First Man of Jazz (LSU 2005) 118). Buddy King Bolden is arguably the first jazz musician ever, having begun to play the eclectic music in the 1890s. The name also relates to a dance that was done in that time period, the funky butt. The dance involved a woman lifting her skirt, revealing her petticoat, and then moving her hips in a suggestive manner. It was particularly popular amongst burlesque dancers. The dance is believed to have also begun in the 1890s (Daniel Hardy, “Exploring Early Jazz: The Origins and Evolution of New Orleans Style (iUniverse 2002): 42, 68).
This lively club was part of a culture on Rampart Street that “had good music and elegant bordellos, only three blocks and a world apart from the flash and hustle of Bourbon Street” (57th APX National Convention, New Orleans, March 2004 (New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau)). The type of music played there was creole, blues, and jazz. The patrons were typically African-American. Funky Butt is also known for being associated with Voodoo magic. The infamous Voodoo queen Marie Laveau was known to do some sort of performance at the Funky Butt location (Ned Sublette, “The World that Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square”, (Chicago Review Press 2008): 32). The area where the club was located was part of the Tango Belt, an area that also housed brothels. It was the location that people shifted to once Storyville was officially shut down. Also, it was the type of place that people frequented late into the night, to drink and enjoy music and socialize with other people, who all worked long hours during the day.
In the last ten years, Funky Butt was primarily a restaurant, but not nearly as exclusive as it once was. However, there was a lounge, patio, balcony, and music club, the Danny Barker Music Room, which also serves as a bar and restaurant. It was famous for a drink known as “Sweet Brown Juicy Booty”. As for musicians, Funky Butt boasted such jazz performers as Kermit Ruffins, Irvin Mayfield, and members of the Marsalis family. Each night, there were two sets of performances with a typical cover charge of $10. Unfortunately, Funky Butt has not reopened since Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005 (Official Funky Butt Website – www.funkybutt.com).