New Orleans funk master and founding member of The Meters, George Porter Jr. will release his latest album with the Runnin’ Pardners — Crying for Hope — on Friday, March 26 via Controlled Substance Sounds Labs and Color Red. The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award-recipient, named one of the 50 Greatest Bassists of All Time by Rolling Stone, emerges from quarantine with a powerful new album that speaks to struggle, perseverance, comfort and rejuvenation. Crying For Hope is a 12-track reminder that music is the ultimate requital — and funk is the groove that keeps on giving.
The world can bring us down
So, we lift each other up
If there’s trouble all around
Let the music fill our cup
The new album is Porter’s first release with the Runnin’ Pardners since 2015’s It’s Time To Funk EP, and the band’s first full-length album in a decade. Spearheaded by Porter on bass and vocals, the current quartet features Terrence Houston on drums, Michael Lemmler on keyboards and Chris Adkins on guitar.
Crying For Hope came together virtually during the 2020 pandemic, with band members recording their parts individually from home studios, or down the road at Ora’s Third Floor Sound Lab. In a recent interview with Offbeat, Porter describes how the spark to create new Runnin’ Pardners music lit when he revisited unfinished recordings from a few years back, and became inspired. Written from the bass line up, Porter collaborated in the cloud and via Facetime with Lemmler, and then Adkins, before Houston laid down the final heartbeat to bring their new songs to life.
Self-produced by Porter & Runnin’ Pardners and mixed and mastered by Joe Kalb, the result is a dynamic snapshot of the modern state of funk — and its place in the greater social conversation — from one of the most prolific and influential bassists of a generation.
After thanking his bandmates, team and influential women in his life, Porter closes the record’s liner notes by saying he’s, “Grateful that during this tough time something this good could happen.”
ABOUT GEORGE PORTER JR
New Orleans music royalty, George Porter Jr. founded The Meters in 1965 alongside Art Neville, Leo Nocentelli and Joseph Zigaboo Modeliste. Known as one of the progenitors of funk with Sly & The Family Stone and Parliament Funkadelic, The Meters carved their own place in history with syncopated polyrhythms and grooves inherited from New Orleans’ deep African musical roots. Porter’s heavy pockets and fat notes created the rubbery bass lines behind anthems like “Cissy Strut” off the group’s self-titled 1969 debut — The Meters’ greatest commercial single that reached No. 4 on the R&B chart and No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Meters became the house band for Allen Toussaint’s recording label and studio in New Orleans, backing records for Dr. John, Paul McCartney, Lee Dorsey, Earl King, Robert Palmer and Patty Labelle’s No. 1 hit, “Lady Marmalade”. They toured with the Rolling Stones and influenced everyone from Led Zeppelin and Bob Marley to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Beastie Boys. Porter’s rhythmic work with drummer Modeliste became the building block behind scores from hip-hop artists A Tribe Called Quest, Run DMC, N.W.A. and Queen Latifah, all of whom sampled The Meters.
The band broke up in 1977, after Toussaint claimed rights to the name, but reformed in the 1980s as The Funky Meters following an informal jam during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Porter went on to become a highly coveted session bassist. He notched studio sessions with David Byrne, Jimmy Buffet, Tori Amos and Taj Mahal; and live performances with John Scofield, Warren Haynes, members of the Grateful Dead and countless others.
Porter started his own band, the Runnin’ Pardners, in 1990 and released his solo record Runnin’ Partner. The group’s studio releases include Funk This (2000) and Can’t Beat the Funk (2011), as well as live albums along the way. The current lineup features drummer Terrence “Groove Guardian” Houston, Michael Lemmler on keyboards and guitarist Chris Adkins.
In 2000, the original Meters lineup reunited for a one-night stand at the Warfield in San Francisco, and again in 2006 to headline Jazzfest in the wake of Katrina. The group sporadically performed as The Original Meters to elated crowds between 2012 and 2017. Art “Poppa Funk” Neville retired from performing in 2018 and passed away the following year. But the Meters’ music and their heritage of funk lives on in George Porter and his bandmates – past, present and future.
Born and raised in the Crescent City, Porter, now aged 70, calls New Orleans home to this day.