Can’t catch Phish Tuesday? Don’t fret, there’s still plenty of groove to be had in South Lake Tahoe that night, including an appearance by The Meter Men in the Harrah’s Lake Tahoe South Shore Room.
The band is three original members of ‘70s funk band The Meters, in George Porter Jr. (bass), Leo Nocentelli (guitar) and Zigaboo Modeliste (drums) joined by Page McConnell (keys). John Gros will fill in on keyboards at the Harrah’s show as McConnell is the keyboardist for Phish.
The Meter Men came together in 2006 after Porter, Nocentelli and Modeliste joined forces as a power trio for a series of concerts in New England.
“The bigger setup kind of came after the three of us discussed the power trio concept and Zig was more interested in having a keyboard player,” Porter said. “When Page said that he was interested, that was who we used.”
Porter noted that The Meter Men are still toying with the role of the keyboard in the band.
“We had considered, and still are considering, doing a recording featuring multiple keyboard players,” he said.
Time is a scarce commodity for the band, with the schedules of the members largely dictating when and how The Meter Men can assemble.
“We’ve been playing select dates. There’s not a lot of room at this point in time because of my individual schedule as well as Leo’s. We’re kind of juggling Meter Men when individual dates are open in our individual schedules,” Porter said, noting that the group is considering employing a booking agency to assist with scheduling.
Schedules aligned in early May, when the band got together to play a few sets at New Orleans Jazz Fest.
“The Jazz Fest show here in New Orleans was excellent… both shows sold out. The first show sold out within 12 hours. Then the second one went up and sold out just as fast,” Porter said. “From where I was standing on the stage there was a lot of people out there.”
Scheduling has also prevented the band from recording albums to date, something that The Meter Men would like to correct in the near future.
“We have been talking about the recording thing. It’s just none of that has been laid in stone at this point, as well as finding a way to financially do the recording,” Porter said. “I would assume that we would be looking for a record label. But the first thing would be to just get in my studio or a studio somewhere and start nailing down some music.”
Onstage, The Meter Men draw on years of shared musical experience to keep the group’s jams in sync.
“We play off of each other. We listen to each other fairly well, even after not performing as often and very little time to do a lot of rehearsing and stuff,” Porter said. “We play music. We recorded it. Some of it almost 40 years ago. So there’s some common memories, or maybe the best way to say it is there’s memories we all remember musically and the fact that we pay attention to each other while we’re playing. We tend to play together very well.”
Even after decades playing together, The Meter Men keep concerts fresh and exciting for audiences.
“It’s not a theatrical stage show. It’s four musicians bringing their knowledge of the instrument to the stage and just performing,” he said. “Even if we play the same 10 songs every night, we would not be playing the same show. We just don’t play that way.”