Live: George Porter Jr. and Runnin' Pardners at Bamboo Room, January 6

Categories: Concerts
George Porter Jr. and Runnin' Pardners 2012.12.06 (small).jpeg
Photo by Adam Smith
George Porter Jr. and Runnin' Pardners 
Bamboo Room, Lake Worth 
January 6th, 2011

Better Than: Anything going on in New Orleans that did not have George Porter Jr. on bass.

Lake Worth's premiere music venue, The Bamboo Room, was invaded by South Florida's pocket of funk enthusiasts last night. Coming to town as a preemptive strike before boarding Jam Cruise, an amphibious music festival with a legion of national talent, George Porter Jr. rounded up a squad of all-star New Orleans musicians to get the party started. Porter Jr., a bass legend and funk godfather of the Meters fame, combined with The Running Pardners - Brint Anderson (guitar/Coupe de Ville), Michael Lemmler (keyboards/Brasilliance!), Khris Royal (saxophone/Dark Matter/Rebelution) and Terrence Houston (drums/Dark Matter) - are a balanced mix of old school royalty and up-and-coming Louisiana prodigies.

Punctual and smiling, Porter Jr. kicked the night off with  "Borro," a song cut from his 2011 release Can't Beat the Funk. The unique cover album is modern take on 16 tracks recorded by the Meters that never made it to the live setting. The first set breezed through flawless renditions of album selections "Same Ole Thing" and "Stay Away" in between classic New Orleans anthems.

The sit-down lounge format of the Bamboo Room soon became a stand and groove atmosphere. Stiff cocktails and microbrews were hoisted in the air as feet shuffled on the floor below. Houston's drumming was such an impressive percussion effort that he had to shed his shirt as sweat poured down his face before the fourth song. After relaying a story of how he would be adapting a guitar solo to his four string bass, Porter Jr. pushed the band into a deep grooving pocket that allowed him to drop bass bombs over a baby butt smooth sax solo from Royal. Coupled with a very danceable disco porno-funk jam, the first set left a very good taste in the mouths of buzzing patrons.

During set break Porter Jr. set up his merchandise booth where he sold copies of the new album and took pictures with fans (including yours truly). His accessible, down to Earth approach translated well with his animated stage presence. The man is the real deal.  After meeting anyone who wanted to share words with the bass master, the band was back on stage for another marathon of new classics and old favorites. Not wasting any time, the second set warmed up with a nod to Little Feat's "Sailing Shoes" before exploding into a high light "Sneaking Sally Through The Alley." Shedding all inhibitions, everyone in the room was now on the dance floor getting down.

It would have been easy to leave after the explosive guitar solo Anderson threw down on the Robert Palmer song, but more perfectly executed funk instrumentals from Can't Beat the Funk kept the crowd from thinning. The payoff came when Porter Jr. invited Jeff Watkins on stage to show off his learned skills as a saxophone player for James Brown. Needless to say, things turned into as battle of the saxes between Royal and Watkins, and the room loved it. As per crowd request, the set ended with heartfelt "I Need More Time" by the Meters.  Although having already played past curfew, the crowd was able to encourage Houston to jump back on his kit for a blindfolded, shirtless drum solo before the rest of the band closed the night with "Yeah You're Right."

Critics Notebook:

The Crowd: Closer in age to George Porter Jr., but partying down like it was 1975 and they were in their 20s.

Random Detail:  It only takes one brave soul to start a dance party when funk is involved. Last night was proof of that. 

Overheard: "Play Time for me George, come on George, do it for me" from a particularly passionate fan just before the band closed with "I Need More Time."

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This was indeed a great show and better than I expected.

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