First Bassist of Funk
Few sounds are as infectiously timeless as New Orleans funk. Credit bassist George Porter Jr. for helping create that unstoppable sonic template while a member of the Meters in the mid-'60s. He has since maintained the smoldering grooves as a sideman for the likes of David Byrne and with various other bands of his own, including Porter Batiste Stoltz.
And Porter is used to younger audiences rediscovering his work. He was sampled often by rappers in the '80s and '90s (often without royalties), and now, those fabulously funky rhythms are being re-created by contemporary jam bands. "I have noticed for quite some time that I'm playing to the same age crowd I played to 40 years ago," Porter says, laughing. "I'm thankful for several things: the jam community, the Meters, and the young players, who followed in our footsteps." He pauses, then adds: "They have always acknowledged where they're coming from — unlike the hip-hop community."
The Meters disbanded in 1977, and much later, the Funky Meters emerged in 1994. In addition to founding Meter Art Neville on keyboards/vocals and Porter on bass, the Funky Meters featured drummer Russell Batiste Jr. and guitarist Brian Stoltz. After Art returned to the Neville Brothers in the early 2000s, Porter Batiste Stoltz, known commonly as PBS, materialized. The group's debut disc, Expanding the Funkin Universe, dropped in 2005.
The trio's latest album, the live document Moodoo, is culled from a November 2, 2007, show featuring onetime Phish member Page McConnell on keyboards. It's vintage Meters-style funk spiced with space rock and more vocals, courtesy of all three PBS members. "I do think it has more of a rock edge — absolutely," Porter says. "We jam out a little more because it's just a trio, and it allows for getting away from chord formulas."
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