Funky Meters: Live from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

For me, the Meters are one of those ubiquitous bands that you hear a lot about even though they reached their peak about 10 years before you were born. I first heard of the Meters when I was 12 and reading the liner notes to the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Freaky Styley. It turns out the hit song “Hollywood” on that album was a cover of the Meter’s “Africa,” which consequently made the lyrics more understandable (Hollywood is no motherland; I don’t care what Flea and Anthony say.) Fast-forward five years later to my freshman year of college. I drop in on some friends who have String Cheese Incident’s Carnival ’99 playing in the background. The one song that caught my attention was, you guessed it, a cover of the Meter’s “Hey Pocky Way.”

From watching just one section of their historic performance at the 2000 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, it becomes clear why the Funky Meters, renamed in 1994 after the addition of the Neville’s guitarist Brian Stoltz, are such an influence. Art Neville and George Porter, Jr. play “Cissy Strut” with the same laid-back style of intensity present on the original 1968 recording while at the same time “7 Desires” showcases the Meters ability to evolve into harder edged guitar oriented soul/rock fusion. It is this combination of new styles with their classic sound that make the Funky Meters a hit among later musicians and generations, and this performance is the epitome of that.

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