Funkified New Orleans Style
Talking like he had a crawfish hanging out of the side of his mouth, George Porter Jr., a founding member of The Funky Meters, broke down what their soul, funk, groove is all about, while strolling around in his New Orleans home.
“We’re playing a pretty hard driving funk, not the real laid back in the alley, in the corner funk,” Porter said. “It’s funk with a rock edge. Real nice deep-pocket funk grooves with some outside stuff going on – you know jammin’.”
The Funky Meters, once simply called The Meters, gave birth to their groove back in 1967. But with Art Neville on keyboards and vocals, the Funky Meters are not a full-time band, but simply a groovy little side project, which has endured for decades.
“I think one of the things that keeps the magical thing happening is we don’t play together all the time. We don’t have to keep reinventing things,” Porter
In fact, this band doesn’t even practice anymore. All the members are so busy playing in their other bands-The Neville Brothers and Runnin’ Pardners – that a gig for the Funky Meters is nothing more than a jam session with old friends.
The Funky Meters and The Meters are essentially the same band. Formed in the late ’60s, The Meters started off playing venues in New Orleans. But in 1972 Cyril Neville joined the band as a percussionist and singer and during the next five years recorded five albums for Warner/Reprise.
The mid-seventies were The Meters’ peak. Discovered by the Rolling Stones at a party for Paul and Linda McCartney in 1975, The Meters were invited to open over 75 concerts in America and Europe.
Business problems eventually caught up with the band, and in 1979, The Meters broke up. It wasn’t until a jam session at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1989 that the group reformed, this time as The Funky Meters.
When asked about the influence that growing up and performing in New Orleans had on his music, Porter was unable to give a definitive answer.
“I get asked this all the time, and I never know how to answer it,” he said. But he did acknowledge that the distinctive New Orleans music scene, host of Mardi Gras and the Jazz and Heritage festival had a profound effect on his musical career.
The band has not recorded an album since the ’70s, but continues to write songs by just jammin’, which is essentially how the old band did it, Porter said.
The Funky Meters are George Porter Jr. (bass), Art Neville (keyboards), David Russell Batise (drums) and Brian Stoltz (guitar). Everyone sings.
The Meters more popular songs include “Cissy Strut,” “Ease Back,” “Look a Py Py,” and “Sophisticated Cissy,” which all hit the top 10 on the R&B charts.
Sunday, March 18 @ Club Nero inside Caesars Tahoe
Doors/9 p.m. Show/10 p.m.
21 and over
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