About the FILM
Once upon a time in nola...
There was this band. You've probably never heard of them, but if you had only seen them play - you would never forget.
Do U Want It? is an exploration and celebration of the musical culture of New Orleans. The film chronicles the rise of legendary New Orleans' band Papa Grows Funk and uses their illustrious thirteen-year career, from formation up to the band's emotional final shows, as a vehicle to explore the nuances of success and struggle in the greatest musical city in the world.
Founded in 2000, the band was formed when frontman John Gros assembled a jam session comprised of elite local musicians to play one night at the Old Point Bar. Coming from a variety of different musical backgrounds, the cast included Japanese guitar virtuoso June Yamagishi, soulful saxophonist Jason Mingledorff, “slay-the-groove-master” Marc Pero on bass, and drummer/madman Russell Batiste Jr. Together they became Papa Grows Funk.
From this serendipitous beginning the band flourished, moving their weekly residency to the iconic Maple Leaf Bar where they would continue to play nearly every Monday night for the next twelve years. The band quickly became a staple within the community, inspiring admiration from New Orleans’ musical royalty and legions of diehard fans who came from all over the world to witness their epic Monday-night shows.
While New Orleans nurtured them creatively and cemented their status locally, the city also inhibited their ability to sustain a national presence. New Orleans is a city that runs on music with more live shows per capita than anywhere else in the world. This fosters an environment in which the potential to make a comfortable living as a professional musician is realistically attainable. The members of Papa Grows Funk took advantage of this, enjoying artistic autonomy by playing in multiple bands around town. Additionally, no one in the band was a young man, and their careers, mortgages and families were all in New Orleans. These factors prevented the band members from fully committing to Papa Grows Funk which hindered the band’s ability to grow.
As the band leader, Gros decided the only path left for the band to take was to record an album unlike any they had made in the past. By hiring New Orleans' musical icon Allen Toussaint and Better Than Ezra bassist Tom Drummond to co-produce the album, and by making a conscious effort to emphasize vocals and song structure, Gros believed the band could attract a wider audience. In the end, Gros’s decision to force the other band members out of their creative comfort zones brought to the surface deep-rooted internal conflict and ultimately led to the band’s decision to take an indefinite hiatus.
Do U Want It? follows Papa Grows Funk as they embark on their farewell tour. The film asks the question- what is “success?” Is it filling out large concert venues, selling records, and gaining widespread recognition? Or is it playing with your best friends and family every week, being part of a community, and going home, not rich, but with enough money in your pocket to do it all again tomorrow?
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Sam Radutzky and Josh Freund love the city of New Orleans. Together they created ABIS Productions, the city’s premiere production house dedicated to creating video content for bands and musicians. Do U Want It? is their directorial debut.