Last year was the warm-up for the main event, which is this year.

At the 38th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Steve Earle alluded to “Treme,” the HBO series in which he appears. And Rock and Roll Hall of Famer  Allen Toussaint, another series regular (as himself) performed at the Telluride Jazz Celebration with none other than the Delta Lady, Rita Coolidge. (See Related Posts to hear that interview on Telluride Inside… and Out.)

This year, Treme meets Telluride big time on Sunday, August 5, when Telluride Jazz Celebration impresario Paul Machado hosts New Orleans Day at the 36th annual Telluride Jazz Celebration.

For the general public, New Orleans Day begins at noon with a Mardi Gras-style parade down Main Street complete with brass band, second line and floats made by the Ah Haa School for the Arts. A free screening of the 2008 documentary “Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans” is featured at the Wilkinson Public Library.

In Town Park, festival guests get to savor classic New Orleans taste treats: Po’boys, gumbo, mint juleps and hurricanes. And the lineup showcases some of the Big Easy’s best: Jon Cleary’s Philthy Phew (see related post), The Soul Rebels, and Astral Project. The Funky METERS close the show.

Formed during an informal jam during the 1989 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Art Neville, George Porter Jr., and Russell 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 grooved their way around the globe, touring with such talents as The Rolling Stones. They were  a studio band for such diverse artists as Dr. John, Paul McCartney, Robert Palmer, and Patti Labelle.
The original Meters disbanded in the late 1970s.

In 1994, Art and George were joined by guitarist Brian Stoltz and drummer Russell Batiste and officially christened The Funky METERS. The 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 lineup 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 had not skipped a beat: 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 among the four artists in the band speaks volumes for the level of musicianship and creativity that comes alive when the group plays together. The group’s trademark sound blends funk, blues, and dance grooves with a New Orleans vibe. After three years of solid touring including dates at Bonnaroo, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Jamcruise, The Fillmore Auditorium, Telluride Jazz Celebration and countless others top venues, the Funky METERS are still grooving strong.

For a preview, watch this video:

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