Live: George Porter Jr. and Runnin' Pardners at Bamboo Room, January 6

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George Porter Jr. and Runnin' Pardners 

Bamboo Room, Lake Worth 

January 6th, 2011 

Better Than: Anything going on in New Orleans that did not have George

Porter Jr. on bass.

Lake Worth's premiere music venue, The Bamboo Room, was

invaded by South Florida's pocket of funk enthusiasts last night. Coming to

town as a preemptive strike before boarding Jam Cruise, an amphibious music

festival with a legion of national talent, George Porter Jr. rounded up a squad

of all-star New Orleans musicians to get the party started. Porter Jr., a bass

legend and funk godfather of the Meters fame, combined with The Running

Pardners - Brint Anderson (guitar/Coupe de Ville), Michael Lemmler

(keyboards/Brasilliance!), Khris Royal (saxophone/Dark Matter/Rebelution) and

Terrence Houston (drums/Dark Matter) - are a balanced mix of old school royalty

and up-and-coming Louisiana prodigies.

Punctual and smiling, Porter Jr. kicked the night off

with  "Borro," a song cut from his 2011 release Can't Beat the Funk. The

unique cover album is modern take on 16 tracks recorded by the Meters that

never made it to the live setting. The first set breezed through flawless

renditions of album selections "Same Ole Thing" and "Stay Away" in between

classic New Orleans anthems.

The sit-down lounge format of the Bamboo Room soon

became a stand and groove atmosphere. Stiff cocktails and microbrews were hoisted

in the air as feet shuffled on the floor below. Houston's drumming was such an

impressive percussion effort that he had to shed his shirt as sweat poured down

his face before the fourth song. After relaying a story of how he would be

adapting a guitar solo to his four string bass, Porter Jr. pushed the band into

a deep grooving pocket that allowed him to drop bass bombs over a baby butt

smooth sax solo from Royal. Coupled with a very danceable disco porno-funk jam,

the first set left a very good taste in the mouths of buzzing patrons.

During set break Porter Jr. set up his merchandise booth

where he sold copies of the new album and took pictures with fans (including

yours truly). His accessible, down to Earth approach translated well with his

animated stage presence. The man is the real deal.  After meeting anyone who wanted to share words with the bass master, the band was back on stage for

another marathon of new classics and old favorites. Not wasting any time, the

second set warmed up with a nod to Little Feat's "Sailing Shoes" before

exploding into a high light "Sneaking Sally Through The Alley." Shedding all

inhibitions, everyone in the room was now on the dance floor getting down.

It would have been easy to

leave after the explosive guitar solo Anderson threw down on the Robert Palmer

song, but more perfectly executed funk instrumentals from Can't Beat the Funk

kept the crowd from thinning. The payoff came when Porter Jr. invited Jeff

Watkins on stage to show off his learned skills as a saxophone player for James

Brown. Needless to say, things turned into as battle of the saxes between Royal

and Watkins, and the room loved it. As per crowd request, the set ended with

heartfelt "I Need More Time" by the Meters.  Although having already played

past curfew, the crowd was able to encourage Houston to jump back on his kit

for a blindfolded, shirtless drum solo before the rest of the band closed the

night with "Yeah You're Right."

Critics Notebook:

The Crowd: Closer in age to George Porter Jr., but partying down like it

was 1975 and they were in their 20s.

Random Detail:  It only takes one brave soul to start a dance party

when funk is involved. Last night was proof of that. 

Overheard: "Play Time for me George, come on George, do it for me" from a

particularly passionate fan just before the band closed with "I Need More Time."

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