funky METERS

Formed during an informal jam during the 1989 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Art Neville, George Porter Jr., and Russe1l Batiste Jr., founded what would be the core of the funky METERS. The history of founding members Art Neville and George Porter Jr. dates back to 1967, when keyboardist, Art recruited bass player, George, drummer Joseph (Zigaboo) Modeliste and guitarist Leo Nocentelli to form The Meters. In their 31-year history, The Meters have grooved their way around the globe. They have toured with such talents as The Rolling Stones, and have been a studio band for such diverse artists as Dr. John, Paul McCartney, Robert Palmer, and Patti Labelle. The original Meters disbanded in the late 70’s. Today founding members Art Neville and George Porter Jr., are joined by New Orleans native Brian Stoltz on guitar and Russell Batiste Jr. on drums and are known officially as the funky METERS. funky METERS tap into the roots of The Meters musical heritage while taking the sound well into the future. Their trademark sound blends funk, blues, and dance grooves with a New Orleans vibe.
In 1994, Art and George were joined by guitarist Brian Stoltz and Russell Batiste and officially christened The Funky METERS. This lineup carried the funk torch until the spring of 2007 when Stoltz left to pursue his solo career and Ian Neville, the son of Meters founder Art Neville joined the line up taking over guitar duties. Growing up in the Neville house of music and touring with The Neville Brothers, as well Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Ian was poised to step in to help bring the band into the future. In 2011, Brian Stoltz was invited to play with funky METERS when Ian was committed to his band, Dumpstaphunk, gigs. Once the band was onstage it was if they hadn’t skipped a beat, the band and audience both knew Brian was meant to be there. After four years with Ian in the band, the time came for him to focus on his own band’s success and funky METERS invited Brian to rejoin full time.
The collective resume between the four artists in the band speaks volumes for the level of musicianship and creativity that comes alive when they play together on any stage. After three years of solid touring including dates at Bonnaroo, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Jamcruise, The Fillmore Auditorium and countless others the funky METERS are stronger than ever. In fact, the funk is still going as strong today as it was 40 plus years ago.

“For some reason, a lot of my life has revolved around recording in closets and tiny spaces,” laughs Kendra Morris. It’s been a bit of a recurring theme in the New York–based singer-songwriter’s career thus far, and it can be traced back to one Christmas at Morris’s childhood home in St. Petersburg, Florida. A mini-Kendra, aged eight, discovered that her karaoke machine could also be used as part of a makeshift studio set-up. “I would go into my closet, take these cassette tapes, and I’d start singing, record it, and switch it to the other side and sing over that,” she recalls.

Morris grew up imbued with a sense of music—her parents played in bands together, and she often broke into their cabinets full of vinyl to listen to their favorite records. As Marvin Gaye, the Spinners, War, Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, and the Temptations washed over her, they soon became hers too. She sang along to her favorite albums with a voice she discovered soon after she learned how to talk.

“I was three years old, and I got up and asked my parents’ friends if they wanted my little voice or my big voice,” Morris remembers. “And I did this little voice, but then I did this big operatic voice. Maybe that was ingrained in me, because they say some of the main parts of you develop before you’re even six years old.”

After studying musical theater at a performing arts high school and deciding not to pursue it, Morris half-heartedly went to college in Tampa. She spent less time studying than singing in bands, which ultimately led to her flunking out. She moved back to St. Pete and got a job at Johnny Rockets. “All the kids that I used to go to high school with would go there, and I would have to wait on them, and make their french fries,” Morris says.

It was a blow, but Morris used it as a catalyst to do something better.

With her dad’s help, she started learning guitar and began writing her own songs. “I didn’t want to be in other people’s bands anymore,” Morris says. “I felt like I had something to say.”

In 2003, Morris moved to New York with her all-girl band, Pinktricity (“Probably the world’s worst band name,” she says. “We got it off of a box of Nerds”). The grind of the city caused the group to split but spurred Morris to go it alone. She came across an eight-track and brought it back to her wall-less loft. Morris summoned her eight-year-old karaoke days and set it up in the only room in her house—her closet—and began to record. “I had all these songs in me, and I didn’t know where they were coming from,” Morris says. She also took the knack for harmonies she’d learned as a child, and began embroidering her tracks with intertwining threads of melody. “I’d been harmonizing with my mom since I was a little girl, ’cause my mom’s a singer, so I’ve always had a good ear for that.” These raw bedroom recordings of earnest soul became her first two self-released EPs, This Won’t Hurt a Bit (2007) and Milk and Cookies Never Lie (2008).

Another secondhand find that marked Morris’s path was a Sharp GF-777—the Holy Grail of boomboxes made famous by ’80s hip-hop (and, namely, Run-DMC). Once again, she innovated and incorporated it into her live shows, lugging the gallant silver stallion that she used as an amp, in addition to her loop pedals and guitars, all over the Lower East Side. “And that was my thing,” Morris remembers. “The sound guys would be like, ‘What the what?’ And after the show, they’d be like, ‘That thing sounds great!’”

While performing solo around New York City, Morris met and began collaborating with producer Jeremy Page and released a self-titled EP in 2010. She’d been conscientiously working on her craft as a songwriter, which was acknowledged by ASCAP and the Songwriters Hall of Fame the following year. The institutions awarded Morris the 2011 Holly Prize, which recognizes new singer-songwriters whose talents honor the legacy of Buddy Holly by way of excellence in songwriting, performing, and musicianship.

A tour with Motown Funk Brother Dennis Coffey this past summer and support from DJ Premier via his remix of her blaxploitation-dipped single “Concrete Waves” pepper the year that Morris took to write and record her full-length debut. Inspired in name by wailing female demons from Irish folklore, Banshee is an amalgam of stories, both imagined and Morris’s own, produced by previous collaborator Jeremy Page and slated for a summer 2012 release by Wax Poetics Records. “In a way, banshees just cast spells with their voices,” Morris says, “and I just think some of the greatest singers do the same thing.” [Biography by Marisa Aveling]

Limited Admissions at Doors

Advanced tickets to this event are SOLD OUT! We will have a limited amount of admissions available to purchase at the box office on the night of the show starting at 6:00pm. All admissions at the door will be first come first serve, one ticket per customer, with no re entry. $20 at the door, cash only.

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funky METERS with Kendra Morris

Saturday, October 5 · Doors 6:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM at Brooklyn Bowl