TIR 131: Leo Nocentelli Tells How He Funkified the Meters


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott “DR GX” Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 131: A funk guitar giant who was one of the founders of the monumental Meters out of New Orleans — the legendary Leo Nocentelli (via phone). Although the band and its unique gumbo of rhythm and soul never crossed over with monster hits or sold millions of albums, their enduring influence as a touchstone of funk music’s foundation is undeniable.

Starting out in the 1960s as Allen Toussaint’s house band, the Meters released eight studio albums from 1969-1977. They were chockful of predominantly instrumentals that were often extremely catchy and usually supremely funky. Some of the band’s better known songs were “Sophisticated Cissy,” “Cissy Strut,” “Look-Ka Py Py,” “Chicken Strut,” “The World Is a Bit Under the Weather,” “People Say,” “Hey Pocky A-Way,” “Africa,” “Fire on the Bayou” and “Funkify Your Life.”

The Meters were musicians’ musicians and as such backed many of contemporary music’s biggest names in the studio or shared time on stage. That list includes Robert Palmer, Dr. John, Patti LaBelle and in the mid-1970s they were invited guests as opening act for the Rolling Stones. Since breaking up in the late 1970s for the past several decades the band members have performed and recorded together in myriad combinations, as well as worked as ace session players with a who’s who of popular music stars. Some of the other diverse artists Nocentelli has worked with include Otis Redding, Joe Cocker, Etta James, Albert King and Jimmy Buffet.

Nocentelli continues to play with several different bands on a regular basis as well as doing one-offs and making guest appearances. With The Meters having won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 just in the rearview mirror; the comprehensive 6-CD box set, The Meters: Gettin’ Funkier All The Time – The Complete Josie / Reprise & Warner Recordings (1968-1977) just released; and upcoming shows including a June 2020 birthday date with Zapp ahead, Nocentelli shares his fascinating story.