Player’s Corner: Art Neville’s Funky Knuckles

Art Neville of The Meters [Photo Credit: Dino Perrucci]

For Art Neville’s stage rig in The Funky Meters, the progenitor of funky New Orleans organ still uses his trusty Hammond B3, but also has a Korg Triton on hand. “I just like the way it sounds,” Neville says of Korg’s workstation synthesizer. “Can you hear this?” he asks, playing a few licks over the phone from his home in New Orleans. “The Hammond B3 sounds different. It has a long sound.”

Asked how The Meters worked out songs back in the ‘70s, Neville begins to laugh. “I’m just trying to do what I call ‘Funky Knuckles.’” Playing with your knuckles? “No, it’s a term we used a long time ago. It’s not a thing I learned in school. Let’s put it that way.”

While the original Meters have gone their separate ways, Neville and founding bassist George Porter, Jr. have reformed as The Funky Meters, with Art’s son Ian Neville on guitar and Russell Batiste, Jr. on drums.

The updated version of the band stays true to their improvisatory roots. “When I’m playing a gig with The Funky Meters, a lot of that stuff is improvised right then,” says Neville. “When you’re playing in the room or in a hall with other guys, they influence what you’re thinking. I influence other guys. They influence me. When you get a happy medium, it’s like you’re meeting.”