By Andy J. Gordon
Legendary funk guitarist Leo Nocentelli (www.nocentelli.com/), a founding member of the Meters, and his band, the Meters Experience played a funk and blues infused show at Harvelle’s (www.harvelles.com) on Saturday, November 13, 2010. Although Nocentelli lives in Los Angeles, he rarely gets to play here because of his extensive touring, so this rare local show was a real treat. The band kept the packed house grooving to funky beats throughout the night.
Nocentelli has been playing funk, blues and R&B since the 60’s. His blistering guitar riffs and infectious rhythms have been the inspiration for many guitarists and songwriters over the years. As an original member of the Meters, a groundbreaking funk group based in New Orleans from the mid-’60s to the mid-’70s, Nocentelli gained national attention with his songwriting and guitar mastery. He has written over 200 songs, some of which were recorded by Albert King, Etta James, Joe Cocker, Robert Palmer, the Neville Brothers, and George Duke. He has also recorded with a number of artists including Peter Gabriel, Earl King, Dr. John, Lee Dorsey, Patti LaBelle, Manhattan Transfer, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, Bonnie Raitt, Sting, and the Winans, among others.
The talented band at the Harvelle’s gig provided excellent support for Nocentelli’s guitar pyrotechnics. Ronnie Ciago on drums and Ron Jacquard on bass kept up a solid rhythm with occasional solos that proved their chops. Al Margolis was extra funky on the keyboards with solid supporting melodies and creative solos. Of course, the real focus throughout the show was Nocentelli’s distinctive guitar riffs. The band played some of his Meters’ classics like “Fire on the Bayou,” “Cissy Strut,” “Hey Pocky a Way,” and “Africa.” They also played some songs that Nocentelli wrote for movie soundtracks. Each song featured his uniquely funky style and scorching solos. The two set show closed with a tribute to New Orleans and the hot, sweaty audience showed their appreciation with loud cheers for the departing band.
Nocentelli and the Meters Experience gave an electrifying performance – their live show should not be missed by anyone that loves classic New Orleans funk and wants to see the man whose amazing guitar skills define that style of music. Check his web site for future appearances.
Photo courtesy of Andy J. Gordon