George Porter, Jr. is best known as the bassist of The Meters, along with Art Neville, Leo Nocentelli and Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste. The group was formed in the mid 60's and came to be recognized as one of the progenitors of funk then called R&B. The Meters disbanded in 1977, but reformed in 1989. Today the original group still plays the occasional reunions but the Funky Meters, of which Porter and Neville are still members, most prominently keeps the spirit alive.

 

Few bass players in the history of modern New Orleans music are as storied as George Porter Jr. During the course of a career spanning more than four decades, Porter has not only made a deep impression with his work in the Meters, but he's notched session work with artists as diverse as Paul McCartney, Jimmy Buffett, David Byrne, Patti LaBelle, Robbie Robertson, Tori Amos, Taj Mahal, Ryan Montbleau and live performances with Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Warren Haynes, John Scofield, Steve Kimock, Eric Krasno (and including recent studio releases with Warren Haynes and Bill Kreutzmann) just to name a few.

 

Porter is also the band leader of his own unique long term project the Runnin' Pardners, well respected not only as a quintessential New Orleans band, the touring band continues to receive accolades on the jam band and festival scene. He has assembled some seasoned and talented musicians to join him on this project - Brint Anderson (guitar), Michael Lemmler (keyboards), and Khris Royal (saxophone), and Terrence Houston (drums).

Porter has proven to be capable of the ultimate fusion of rock, funk and R&B, and has gained recognition as one of the industry's elite bass players. He continues to be not only an in demand performing artist but an accomplished studio musician and producer.

 

After reading your bio I have come to the decision that you are New Orleans’ premier bass player! So first – how or why did you decide on playing bass?

Actually the truth is I was a guitar player and there were too many great guitarists in the city. (Smiling) I had learned both and there was a need for electric bass players, so it was pretty much because I’d get more work. Early on I once played guitar with Art Neville as a sub on one of his gigs. As I played mostly rhythm and was not an accomplished soloist, he was not too pleased. A few years later Art saw me playing bass and felt that was truly my instrument. A little while later I got the call to see if I was interested in playing with him regularly. That band was the beginning of the band that would become The Meter's.

 

I know a lot of musicians who ended up singing, because of other circumstances, like a singer didn’t show or was too sick to sing. Did you always want to sing or was that kind of “thrown at you”?

I always loved singing so I never gave it much thought. Yes, I always wanted to sing but early in my career as part of the rhythm section any opportunities to sing were pretty much just thrown at me. When I started my own bands “Joy Ride” and “Runnin Pardners” I definitely went into them as not only the band leader but the lead singer.

 

You have recorded with some of the top A-list musicians. Is there anyone still on your bucket list that you’d like to either record or jam with?

O’ my, I will have to come back to that one, there are still quite a few and I am going to be recording with two of them early next month, Cody Dickinson (North Mississippi All Stars) and Eric Krasno (Soulive, Lettuce).

 

I don’t know if it’s a record, but you have been steadily gigging at the Maple Leaf Bar since 1985. You also are in high demand for recording and perform with four bands (The [Original] Meters, The Funky Meters, The Runnin’ Pardners, and The George Porter Jr Trio – who plays at the Maple Leaf Bar), not to mention being a special guest for other groups. What should people expect when they come to see you?

When you come I hope you will hear me and the other players having a great time playing, getting funky and jammin’ till we get to that place where we have to stop, look at each-other and say wow what was that? I love it most when you feel free to let the music take you to places you didn't expect; some great songs come from those jams. On the best nights that happens often, especially at the Maple Leaf. (Smiling)

 

You took a year and half to collaborate, write and record 28 songs, yet your latest EP, It’s Time To Funk, contains four tracks. Do you plan to release a full album of these songs in the near future?

Yes, well there are now two projects I am working on. Getting back to those other 24 songs/tracks has taken a back seat right now to The George Porter Jr Trio sessions that Michael Lemmler, Terrence Houston and I started about 10 days ago; we are taking it slow but have 5 tracks recorded, with a few years of music we should give a listen to from our Maple Leaf gigs. Those gigs have resulted in some great jams that we are enjoying revisiting. That said, yes there will be a full Runnin’ Pardners or George Porter Jr Trio CD coming out this year. Maybe not before Jazz Fest, but soon.

 

In your 4 decades of performing, touring, and studio work you have seen music’s flow and ebb in quite a few directions. In my opinion pop music and R&B are turning back towards older music styles – 70s funk, 60s psychedelic, even 80s arena rock, and I personally like what I’m seeing. Where do you see the current music path going?

I am not sure if I know how to answer that one. I would like to think that there is definitely a new appreciation for those old school styles of music. That said, I know that expecting music to fit into certain categories has certainly not helped most New Orleans music get into the main stream and on top-40 radio stations, because we tend  to not play on the down beat but play more syncopated and off the one. Also, we just don’t have anyone here that has any real idea on how to market our music; never did.

I hope someone reads this and fixes it. That would be ...Nice’ Very Nice... O’ gee that could be a song.

 

Georgeporterjr.com; facebook.com/georgeporterjr

 

Upcoming Shows:

FEB 2 TUE Panic En La Playa, La Playa Mexico

FEB 8 MON Howlin' Wolf NOLA

FEB 13 SAT Tipitina's NOLA

FEB 15 MON Maple Leaf Bar NOLA

FEB 20 SAT dba NOLA

FEB 22 MON Maple Leaf Bar NOLA

FEB 27 SAT Boulder Theater, Boulder CO

FEB 28 SUN Boulder Theater, Boulder CO

 

 

SIDE QUOTE: “I love most when you feel free to let the music take you to places you didn't expect”

GEORGE PORTER JR

NOLA's PREMIER BASSIST

MAY YOUR GROOVE BE PHAT

By Tamma Hicks, Steam Magazine

THE FUNKY METERS

GEORGE PORTER JR.

GEORGE PORTER JR.

THE METERS

Upcoming Shows:

FEB 2 TUE Panic En La Playa, La Playa Mexico

 

FEB 8 MON Howlin' Wolf NOLA

 

FEB 13 SAT Tipitina's NOLA

 

FEB 15 MON Maple Leaf Bar NOLA

 

FEB 20 SAT dba NOLA

 

FEB 22 MON Maple Leaf Bar NOLA

 

FEB 27 SAT Boulder Theater, Boulder CO

 

FEB 28 SUN Boulder Theater, Boulder CO

 

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