funky Meters | 11.29.03 | Howlin Wolf | New Orleans, LA

New Orleans is stewed in fonk. Fonk – not funk. I'm talking about Dr. John's definition of New Orleans music. It's the combination of African beats, street brass bands, Cajun rhythms and old South blues. Funk – a term thrown around more casually than beads on Fat Tuesday – is more apropos for large, slick and polished arrangements of P-Funk or Sly and the Family Stone, Maceo Parker or James Brown.

The turn-on-a-dime fonk machine know as the funky Meters made their third and final appearance in New Orleans for the year last weekend at the Howlin' Wolf. The crowd was treated to a thorough dose of homegrown, dance till your feet hurt, sweat you ass-off, "I wish they'd take a break so I can get a drink" old school throw down.

It always makes me smile when someone in the crowd has a quite common reaction of "Holy Crap! Why haven't I ever seen these guys?" A young woman next to me on Saturday had actually flown in from San Francisco at the insistence of a friend – and proclaimed happily that she'll do it again whenever they play. What some people do not realize is that the funky Meters' Art Neville (yes, one of those Neville Brothers) and George Porter Jr. have been playing together for over 35 years. These guys were writing hits before I was born. Long-time Neville Brother's guitarist Brian Stoltz and drummer Russell Batiste (Papa Grows Funk, Vida Blue) have been with the group for over ten years. (For an in-depth history of the band, check out the liner notes for the Funkify your Life anthology)

For whatever reason, the funky Meters have remained relatively unknown to the general public outside of New Orleans – but ask an educated music fan about funk, and the band inevitably comes up. Saturday night's show was a perfect example of why. While some bands are content to segue a few jams together here and there, the funky Meters first 14 songs of the night were all one big jam – an hour and fifteen minutes of pure music. The band took a break only because drummer Russell Batiste stopped so he could make a quick pit stop backstage. The band kept going for four more songs flowing into one another before calling it quits. Art Neville hadn't even left the stage before his partners returned for two encores. Still not satisfied, the crowd called the band back out yet again. With Stanton Moore (Galactic) on drums and Derrick Freeman on vocals, the funky Meters reminded the crowd not only that they were in New Orleans, but that the band was part of New Orleans.

World Is a Little Bit Under the Weather >
Funky Miracle >
Bass jam > Africa >
Let the Good Times Roll >
2 Funkies >
Keep on Marchin >
Love Slip Up On You >
Cissy Strut >
Jam >
Love The One You're With >
Jam >
Jungle man >
Chug a Lug
Midnight Rider >
Hey Pocky Way >
No More Okey Doke >
Ain't no Use

People Say > Look a Py Py
Aiko Aiko

Words by: Jeffrey Dupuis
Images by: Zack Smith
JamBase | New Orleans
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[Published on: 12/8/03]

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