It's no stretch to say that The Meters singlehandedly defined New Orleans funk. Performing and recording original music throughout the latter half of the '60s and into the '70s, this seminal group laid the foundation for what is now a ubiquitous genre and have influenced countless funk musicians with their earthy, down-home style. Original tracks like "Cissy Strut," "Look-Ka Py Py," "Sophisticated Sissy," and "Chicken Strut" are all staples of the funk genre. The Meters' sound also provided a jump off point for much of the hip-hop of the '80s and '90s, with rap luminaries like LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Run DMC, Ice Cube, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, and more sampling the band's tracks.
Formed in 1965, the original Meters lineup featured keyboardist and vocalist Art Neville, drummer Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste, guitarist Leo Nocentelli, and bassist George Porter Jr. After a few months playing under the name Art Neville & The Sounds, the band was hired by famed producers Allen Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn as the house band for their Sansu Enterprises label. The Meters did most of the backing work for the label providing support for artists like Dr. John, Robert Palmer and Lee Dorsey. The ensemble also recorded their own material well into the '70s including Top 40 instrumental hits on both Josie Records and Reprise Records. Although they never truly broke into the mainstream, by the middle of the decade, The Meters were a huge hit among the music intelligentsia.
The Meters broke up in 1977, and all of their members went on to find significant success elsewhere in the music industry. Neville gained fame as part of The Neville Brothers, Modeliste toured with Ron Wood and Keith Richards, Nocentelli and Porter started new bands, and they all became in-demand session players. In recent years, various iterations of the original lineup have reconvened for many one-off shows, including full reunions in 2005 and 2011.
The Meter Men, founded in 2009, first performed as a trio at The 40th New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and shortly after, Lake Eden Arts Festival. Both shows were well received, but due to each member’s commitments to other projects, time would not permit them to continue The Meter Men, until recently.
In 2012, the idea of playing as The Meter Men was revisited by Modeliste, Nocentelli and Porter, Jr. but this time around, they wanted to feature special guest keyboardists. Tulane's 2015 Beads on Broadway the Meter Men will be featuring keyboardist, Ivan Neville.
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