Ernie Vincent and the Top Notes: French Quarter Fest Focus

Photo By Jerry Moran

Ernie Vincent and his band the Top Notes are best known for the 1972 funk anthem “Dap Walk.” In the years that followed, Vincent tried to keep up with the times. He transitioned from blues to R&B to disco only to find that fans (locally and internationally) were craving the original, funk sound.

“One time I was in Germany, and the Germans told us to go back to the original funk and blues music and let it ride,” Vincent says. “I recorded with quite a few different people (since then) and I decided to go back to what I originally did.”

This past year Vincent rebooted his Top Notes with new band members James Martin (sax), Phillip Breen (keyboard), Mike Kobrin (trumpet), Eric Heigle (drums) and Josh Reppel (bass).

Manager Jerry Moran assisted Vincent in finding the right guys to complete the ensemble. Being personally familiar with most of the potential bandmates made Moran confident that they weren’t choosing fair-weather members. “There are a lot of bands where they switch players a lot in the city,” he says. “The consistency in the shows is nonexistent. We wanted to put something together that was consistent; we got commitments from all the guys in the band to rehearse and see it through.”

The new band looks to be half his age, but he says the music remains classic Ernie Vincent. “It’s almost like déjà vu,” he says. “It’s very good. I’m very excited about it.”

Vincent and his new Top Notes have been developing their chemistry with regular gigs at d.b.a., and they recently recorded a live album there, Party on the Bayou Live. It should be out in time for French Quarter Fest.

“Ernie’s been holding back for a long time because he’s a perfectionist,” Moran says. “If you don’t have what you need to show what you’ve got, then you don’t do it, and that’s pretty much what happened. We’re taking advantage of this situation right now.”