George Porter, Jr.

Today’s Know Your Player is about funk legend George Porter, Jr..  George was at the forefront of the great fingerstyle bassists of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  His work with The Meters introduced a New Orleans feel to the R&B and Funk of the era, and his influence can still be heard today.  He is the classic pocket player, effortlessly executing twisting bass lines while holding down the groove. His website is here.

George Porter, Jr. was a founding member of the New Orleans based band The Meters and has played with countless other artists, including Dr. John, Paul McCartney, Robbie Robertson,  Robert Palmer, Patti Labelle, David Byrne,  Harry Connick Jr., Warren Haynes, and John Scofield among many others.  His bio is here.

GPJ4

N.O Funk. Yes!

The Meters are an American funk band based in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Meters performed and recorded their own music from the late 1960s until 1977.   While The Meters rarely enjoyed significant mainstream success, they are considered, along with artists like James Brown, one of the progenitors of funk music and their work is highly influential on many other bands, both their contemporaries and modern musicians working in the funk idiom.

The Meters’ sound is defined by an earthy combination of tight melodic grooves and highly syncopated New Orleans “second-line” rhythms under highly charged guitar and keyboard riffing. Their songs “Cissy Strut” and “Look-Ka Py Py” are considered funk classics.

  • Art Neville – keyboards, vocals
  • George Porter Jr. – bass, vocals
  • Leo Nocentelli – guitar
  • Zigaboo Modeliste – drums

(The Meters music has been highly sampled by other groups.   This website chronicles all the acts that have sampled them, with a before and after for each track.)

Gear

GPJ2GPJ is known for his 1970 Fender Precision Bass.  He bought it with a fretless neck, but his bandmates didn’t like it prompting him to replace it with a 1960’s era fretted neck.

“I bought a new fretless Fender Precision in 1970, but Art and Leo didn’t like it. My friend’s bass had been cut in half by his girlfriend who wanted to retire him from the business, but the neck was unhurt. When I put that neck on my bass’s body, it fit like it had been there forever. I run the tone and volume controls wide open all the time.” Bass Player Magazine 2005

Setup

KS)  Gear questions – do you do your own set ups and adjustments? How high is your action?

GPJ) “You mean on the bass? I play it the way it came and any tech that I had that messed with it got fired. My bass is long overdue for a fret job. I won’t let it happen – the pickups are over, well, let’s say that I got that body in 1970 with a fretless neck on it. The Meters did not like it, so I put a fretted neck on it so that makes those pickups 41 years old. I know – why have I not kept it up? I like the way it plays, I like the way it sounds, and I like the way it looks, old like me. The action is high, very high to most players that have played on it.” 

(Interview with Porter from Blues Junction.  The full interview is here.)

Below are some recording and live videos of George Porter, Jr. in action.  Huge tone, flawless groove, amazing funk – a true master.

 With The Meters

“Cissy Strut”

“Look A Pye Pye”

“Pungee”

“Hey Pocky A-Way”

 

“Sneeking Sally Through the Alley” with Robert Palmer

 

With John Scofield and the Piety Street Band Live