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.
Livingston Leo’s earliest memories are of driving around in the back of his mother’s Vista Cruiser, listening to 77 WABC from New York City, and singing every word to every song with his Mom. “As I grew up, I remembered all the words to all the oldies, all the top forty hits from the 60’s and 70’s. These songs made an intimate and lasting impression on me.”
Born Leonard Meranus in Brooklyn, Leo moved to Livingston, New Jersey in 1968, and considers himself a native son of New Jersey. His father is a 45 year veteran of the Madison Avenue advertising business and a fine painter, his mother is a prima donna of New Jersey community theater. Leo’s home was brimming with creativity. At 13 Leo picked up the guitar and became consumed with playing 12 bar blues, making funny rhymes and calling them songs. Although he became proficient enough to play open mics and college parties, he realized that it was his salesmanship that set him apart. So, Leo became a manager.
After a short stint with a nightclub show band, Leo met Popa Chubby at Manny’s Car Wash in New York City. “I thought he was, by far, the best entertainer in NYC. So, I asked him if I could book him some gigs. Surprisingly, he answered with a resounding ‘YES’.” That relationship lasted five hectic years, Chubby was signed by EPIC/Okeh, and Lenny and Popa Chubby toured the USA relentlessly. Leo moved on to manage Debbie Davies and others. And then for two wonderful years he was hired to travel with Los Lobos.
All this time Leo was listening, learning, writing and playing with some of America’s greatest musicians. Members of Los Lobos, and his good friend, drummer Rich Monica Jr., encouraged him, and he began to develop his own Livingston Leo persona, his own schtick. “When I looked at all the songs I had written, it became obvious where my passion was. I realized my strongest material was about BBQ’N and food, two of my favorite pastimes.” Leo began refining his work, and performing at better and better venues in New Jersey and New York. He recently co-wrote a song with Gov't Mule/Allman Brothers guitarist, Warren Haynes.
Livingston Leo has just completed his first full-length record, “BBQ’N With My Baby”.
With monthly gigs at Dinosaur BBQ and the Parkside Lounge, Livingston Leo’s band has built a strong and loyal following.
And there’s much more to come.