An esteemed member of New Orleans’s musical royalty, George Porter Jr. founded The Meters in 1965 alongside Art Neville, Leo Nocentelli and Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste.

Known as one of the progenitors of funk, The Meters became the house band for Allen Toussaint’s recording label, backing recordings by Dr. John, Lee Dorsey, Earl King, Robert Palmer and Patty Labelle’s No. 1 hit Lady Marmalade. They toured with the Rolling Stones and influenced a variety of artists including Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Beastie Boys. Porter’s rhythmic work with drummer Modeliste also came to be used as building blocks for hip-hop artists A Tribe Called Quest, Run-DMC, N.W.A. and Queen Latifah, all of whom sampled The Meters.

The band broke up in 1977, and Porter went on to become a highly coveted session bassist. He notched studio sessions with David Byrne, Jimmy Buffet, Tori Amos and Taj Mahal, and he performed live with John Scofield, Warren Haynes, members of the Grateful Dead and countless others. In 1990, Porter started his own band, the Runnin’ Pardners.

Porter is a recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and was named one of the 50 greatest bassists of all time by Rolling Stone. Born and raised in the Crescent City, Porter, now 73, calls New Orleans home to this day.

The new Runnin’ Pardners album Crying for Hope was released on March 26. Recorded remotely during the pandemic and echoing themes of social justice, Crying for Hope marks Porter and the band’s first full-length album in a decade. The powerful new album speaks to struggle, perseverance, comfort and rejuvenation.

Porter joined us to talk about the new album and to tell us some stories from the earlier years of his life and career.