Papa Grows Funk Going On Hiatus

Breaking (and sad) news, folks. This just in from Papa Grows Funk, about one of the city’s most stalwart and popular bands, coming off arguably its best album.

Say it ain't so! Seminal NOLA band Papa Grows Funk is taking a break. (Photo: Rick Olivier)

Frontman and punny namesake Jon Gros has posted the following via the band’s website:

“After much discussion, we have decided to take an indefinite break to pursue other musical interests. For the next six months, we will continue to perform, celebrating 13 life changing years, and will honor all bookings — including Monday nights at the Maple Leaf Bar.

To our family, friends and fans: Thank you for your boundless love, support and enthusiasm, you have fulfilled us beyond belief.”

Gros told OffBeat‘s John Swenson exclusively, “I’m looking forward to going back to being a musician again. I’m tired of being a band leader. The music business sucks.”

In a phone interview this morning, Gros said that it’s going to be hard to not play with his band mates. “We’ve been together as Papa Grows Funk for over a decade. We really love playing with each other. But we all have so many other things that we want to do—a lot of different things—and the only solution we came to was to take a long break. Being on tour is really a grind, too. We all thought it would be the best thing for everyone.”

The band is still booking gigs through June, and they are keeping their standard Monday night gig at the Maple Leaf, at least through Jazz Fest. “We’re definitely not breaking up,” said Gros, “we’re just giving ourselves the ability to do some other things. I’m playing with some of the best musicians in town. We all get calls to play with other people, but the way it’s set up now, we all have to focus on Papa Grows Funk. We just figured it would give us all the opportunity to exercise our musicianship in other directions.”

“It’s scary,” he said. “We all have bills to pay, but I’m actually pretty excited about this. Not having to focus exclusively on a band will turn me back into a musician rather than a business owner.”

Most fans aren’t aware of it, but Gros’ first instrument was the French horn (he graduated from Loyola with a music degree in horn). He had played in bands and clubs since he was a teenager, and even though he played the French horn, he concentrated more on making a career as a keyboard musician in a funk band over the years.

“I’m so excited to be able to stretch my musical wings and do some stuff that I haven’t been able to do for a long time,” said Gros. “I’m actually going to play the French horn on Johnny Sketch’s new album, and I’m practicing like crazy to be able to get my chops back. I used to be able to play for hours, and now that I’ve been practicing again, I can see it’s going to take me more time to get back to where I was as a young man. But I’m really looking forward to it.”

That’s your cue, New Orleans (and beyond). Catch ‘em while you can. Thank you, Papa.