Porter, Batiste and Stoltz of the Funky Meters
The founding fathers of funk are stretching out in a Big Easy kind of way as George Porter, David Russell Batiste and Brian Stoltz of the Funky Meters bring their funky jam to Vail today.
“It’s a new supergroup that we just put together,” said Rubin Williams, manager for the trio. “It’s a lot more guitar rockin’ than the Funky Meters, probably like Hendrix merging with the Meters.”
Each musician of the trio has roots in the Meters – which brought its trademark blend of funk, blues and dance grooves to the New Orleans scene in the 1960s and later became the Funky Meters. But the outfit won’t be playing any tunes by the Funky Meters. They will, however, pull out grooves the Meters never played live, excerpts of old tunes and vintage New Orleans songs in the style of Lee Dorsey and King Biscuit that never became mainstream.
“Being just three pieces, it leaves a little more room for improvisation,” guitarist Stoltz said. “We definitely stretch out more than the Funky Meters did. There’s a lot more space for me to play. We were always respectful to the original material of the Meters with the Funky Meters, whereas here, I’m free to do what I do. It’s just as rhythmic, but I play with a much bigger sound –more cranked up, more bluesy. The Funky Meters had a clean-sounding guitar.”
“Some people think it’s more interesting because they get to stretch out,” Williams said. “There are less people to control the jam and where it goes.”
The Funky Meters have been on hiatus for 17 months, since keyboardist Art Neville underwent surgery. The Funky Meters were officially christened in 1994 when Stoltz rejoined the fold after playing with The Neville Brothers, Bob Dylan, Dr. John, Edie Brickell and Linda Ronstadt in the 1980s and 1990s. While the band toured, Porter, Batiste and Stoltz got together and wrote new tunes.
“It came together naturally,” Stoltz said. “It’s just a totally different thing. It’s not us playing a role anymore (following the Zigaboo Modeliste format). It’s us playing us.
“A lot of this music is a bit reminiscent of the old Hendrix Band of Gypsies. It’s really funky, but at the same time it’s big and powerful. It’s bluesy. It’s just taken on so many influences.”
The trio has a jam-band appeal, playing any given song differently each night. Local boys Little Hercules open the festivities at 9 p.m.
This story previously appeared in the Summit Daily News.
Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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