Art “Poppa Funk” Neville, George Porter, Jr., Leo Nocentelli, and Joseph Zigaboo Modeliste will reunite as The Meters in celebration of 50 years of musical brotherhood to perform at the legendary Fillmore.
In the past 17 years, The Meters have made a number of rare appearances together as a group, including sets at the historic sold out Warfield Theater in San Francisco in 2000, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, The Hollywood Bowl, Bonnaroo Arts & Music Festival, Outside Lands Arts & Music Festival, New Orleans VooDoo Festival, as well as kicking off 2017 on Jam Cruise 15. The band just announced their closing slot during the 2017 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (NOJHF) and is also honored with this year’s edition of the NOJHF commemorative collector’s poster.
About The Meters, “The Founding Fathers of Funk”
The Meters are considered by many to be the founding fathers of funk. For fifty years, The Meters have grooved their way around the globe. They have toured and performed with such artists as The Rolling Stones, Dr. John, Robert Palmer, Patti Labelle, Earl King, Allen Toussaint, and Lee Dorsey.
Their trademark sound of syncopated layered percussion intertwined with gritty grooves on guitar, bass and organ blends funk, blues, and dance grooves with a New Orleans vibe that is regarded as one of the most influential in music history.
Art Neville had been a prominent musician in New Orleans for almost 15 years before the band was formed. He was still in high school when, leading the Hawketts, he cut the 1954 Chess single “Mardi Gras Mambo.” He had put out a handful of regional hits as a soloist including "Cha Dooky Doo" and "Ooh-Whee Baby" on Specialty in the late '50s, and "All These Things" on Instant in 1962. Around 1966, Art formed the band The Neville Sound. He recruited guitarist Leo Nocentelli, bassist George Porter Jr., Gary Brown and eventually drummer Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste to play at the New Orleans¹ nightclub The Nightcap.
After the stint at the Nightcap, the band moved to the French Quarter club The Ivanhoe where they when in 1968, they were asked by producer Allen Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn to be the house rhythm section for Sansu Enterprises, where they would play on records by Earl King, Lee Dorsey, and Betty Harris.
At Sehorn's suggestion, the quartet began recording on their own, releasing danceable instrumental singles on Josie Records. "Sophisticated Cissy" and "Cissy Strut", both of which becoming Top Ten R&B hits in the spring of 1969, followed by "Look-Ka Py Py" and "Chicken Strut" which both reached number 11 a year later. The Meters stayed at Josie until 1972 and during that time they reached the R&B Top 50 consistently, usually placing within the Top 40.
In 1972, the group moved to Reprise Records, yet they didn't sever their ties with Sansu, electing to keep Toussaint as their producer and Sehorn as their manager. Ironically, the Meters didn't have nearly as many hit singles at Reprise, yet their profile remained remarkably high. If anything, the group gained popularity, performing on records by Robert Palmer, Paul McCartney, Dr. John, LaBelle, and King Biscuit Boy.
The Meters had a Top 40 hit with Rejuvenation's "Hey Pocky A-Way" (1974), and they had gained a significant following among rock audiences and critics. Fire on the Bayou in 1975 received significant praise. While playing on the Queen Mary for a "Venus and Mars " party hosted by Linda & Paul McCartney the band came to the attention of Ron Woods who was soon to join the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones requested that The Meters join them as an opening act on their 1975 American Tour and 1976 European tours for over 75 + dates. Cyril Neville also joined The Meters in 1975 when the group hit the road with the Stones.
During 1975, the Meters also participated on the Wild Tchoupitoulas project with Art's uncle George "Big Chief Jolly" Landry, the Big Chief of the Mardi Gras ceremonial black Indian tribe, the Wild Tchoupitoulas. The Meters and the Neville brothers -- Aaron, Charles, Art, and Cyril -- were all involved in the recording of the album, which received enthusiastic reviews upon its release in 1976. The following year, they separated from Toussaint and Sehorn, claiming they needed to take control of their artistic direction, releasing New Directions in 1977. They appeared on Saturday Night Live on March 19, 1977 during the show's second season.
After eleven years and eight studio albums, The Meters disbanded later in 1977 citing business problems. Two additional albums of previously unreleased material were later released on the Sundaze label in the early 2000's.
The Meters have maintained an avid following and influenced numerous major artists around the world, including rap artists Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Queen Latifah, who have all sampled their music. The Red Hot Chili Peppers pay homage to them in one of their hit songs, and bands such as The Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic, Galactic and String Cheese Incident play their music regularly in their rotations.
Witnessing a Meters show instantly proves to audiences that they are the super group that put New Orleans funk on the map on a global scale. The group continues to exert an unparalleled influence on American roots and popular music. The Meters' unique place as a touchstone for countless artists across many genres and as one of the most sampled groups in all of hip hop and pop music have kept them relevant to contemporary audiences in a way that few, if any other 70's groups can claim.
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