How a New Orleans music icon is still keeping it funky after five decades in the business
Posted On April 10, 2019
George Porter, Jr., has been playing music for five decades, starting out as the bassist with legendary New Orleans funk band The Meters and continuing with a number of different bands and sit-in performances with artists as diverse as Paul McCartney, David Byrne, Jimmy Buffett, Tori Amos and Patti Labelle.
Now 71 years old, he’s still going strong, which begs the question: How does he keep doing it?
“For me, it’s afternoon naps,” says Porter, our guest in the latest episode of “What’s Working With Cam Marston.”
While finding creative ways to catch some extra shut-eye is important, it’s not the only thing that keeps him energized. Reinvention is liberating for any musician and it certainly has been important to Porter, from rearranging The Meters’ classic “Cissy Strut” into a blues tune to making wholesale changes in his band when he wasn’t happy with the sound.
“I think it’s a fearless thing,” he says, “For me, I give 100 percent of me every time I walk on stage. I just don’t know how to do anything less than that.”
And perhaps most importantly for veterans of practically any industry: “I’m still enjoying what I’m doing,” he says. “It’s still fun.”
Porter, who has influenced scores of younger musicians like John “Papa” Gros and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, also shares with us why he considers himself more of a motivator than a mentor, why he gets bored at rehearsals, what a typical gig night is like, and why the stereotypical musician’s partying lifestyle can’t last.
“I’ve been sober 31 years now,” he says. “I don’t think I would be alive if I hadn’t gotten sober. Because I know for a fact that the day I decided I wanted to get sober and stay sober was probably one or two days from being the last days of my life.
“The most remarkable part of that whole thing is every night I get to go home and I get home with all the money I made from that gig,” he says. “I go to sleep feeling much better about myself.”
Porter will be in Mobile this weekend, playing the SouthSounds Music Festival on April 13. Go out and hear him if you can. In the meantime, join us for a funky good conversation.