The Meter Men with Page McConnell

This show has been moved from The Sinclair to Royale. All tickets will be honored.

The Meter Men with Page McConnell

Page McConnell

Tue, October 30, 2012

7:00 pm

Royale

Boston, MA

$35 advance / $37 day of show

This event is 21 and over

Tickets available at TICKETMASTER.COM, by phone 800-745-3000 or no service charge on tickets purchased Fridays at the Royale box office from 12-6PM.

The Meter Men
The Meter Men
It's no stretch to say that The Meters singlehandedly defined New Orleans funk. Performing and recording their own music throughout the latter half of the '60s and into the '70s, this seminal group laid the foundation for what is now a ubiquitous genre, influencing countless funk musicians with their earthy, down-home style. Tracks like "Cissy Strut," "Look-Ka Py Py," "Sophisticated Sissy," and "Chicken Strut" are staples of the funk genre, and the band's work backing artists like Dr. John, Robert Palmer, Lee Dorsey, and even Paul McCartney is instantly recognizable. The Meters' sound also provided a jumping off point for much of the hip-hop of the '80s and '90s, with rap luminaries like LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Run DMC, Ice Cube, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, and more sampling the band's tracks.

Formed in 1965, the original Meters lineup featured keyboardist and vocalist Art Neville, drummer Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste, guitarist Leo Nocentelli, and bassist George Porter Jr. After a few months playing under the name Art Neville & The Sounds, the band was hired by famed producers Allen Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn as the house band for their Sansu Enterprises label. The Meters did most of their backing work for this label. They also performed and recorded on their own, releasing Top 40 instrumental hits on both Josie Records and Reprise Records well into the '70s. Although they never truly broke into the mainstream, by the middle of the decade, The Meters were a huge hit among the music intelligentsia.

The Meters broke up in 1977, and all of their members went on to find significant success elsewhere in the music business. Neville gained fame as part of The Neville Brothers, Modeliste toured with Ron Wood and Keith Richards, and both Nocentelli and Porter started new bands and became in-demand session players. In recent years, various iterations of the original Meters lineup have reconvened for numerous one-off shows, including full reunion performances in 2005 and 2011.
Page McConnell
Page McConnell
"I just had a blast making this record," says Page McConnell about his debut solo album, which, quite appropriately, bears his name as its title. "I had so much fun just writing songs with no agenda. It was a very pure and satisfying feeling."

That feeling comes through loud and clear in Page McConnell's songs. At the center of its sound are McConnell's distinctive keyboards and honest, unaffected vocals. But this is an album of musicians playing together in effortless, energetic conversation – a conversation enhanced by plainspoken poetry of McConnell's lyrics, which are honest, straight-forward and heartfelt, as if he were speaking one-on-one with a friend.

His buddies from Phish – guitarist Trey Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon and drummer Jon Fishman – all make appearances, as does guitarist Adam Zimmon (who has played with Shakira and the Spam Allstars, a band that collaborated with McConnell's side project, Vida Blue); Jared Slomoff, who engineered the album and also played guitar, and legendary drummer Jim Keltner (who has played with Bob Dylan, John Lennon,George Harrison, Elvis Costello, Cassandra Wilson, Steely Dan and many more).

As McConnell's description and that line-up might suggest, the album reflects a personal journey. When he started working on it two years ago, he thought of himself as a former member of Phish and wondered what his new direction was going to be. He completed it as Page McConnell,confidently looking to the future. The album does not simply mark that transition. In such songs as "Beauty of a Broken Heart," "Heavy Rotation,""Maid Marian" and "Rules I Don't Know," it chronicles it. "How can I leave this behind me?" he asks himself on that last song. "All that's around to remind me/How can this road help unwind me/When it's the road that I don't go that defines me?"

"My life in Phish was non-stop," McConnell says about the band with whom he'd spent close to twenty years. "If we weren't touring, we were making a record. If we weren't making a record, we were promoting one. It was like suspended animation. We got together when we were in our early twenties or late teens, and living in our insulated world, we all remained the same to an extent. As much as I enjoyed it, I was stuck as that person I was when I was twenty-three or twenty-four years old."

As a result, when Phish broke up he decided to take some time off to relax and figure out whathe wanted to do next. Nothing was off the table. "I considered going back to school," he says. "I wondered, 'Should I pursue another career? What is it that I enjoy?' But pretty quickly, I came back to music. I realized I needed to continue this, that there was more for me to do."

"I am," he concluded, "a musician."

In that spirit, work on the album began organically, at a studio McConnell set up athis home in Vermont. He began working with Slomoff, and his aim was to make music, not to make an album. "I just wanted to record some things that I was enjoying, and have fun with it," he recalls. "As the process went on, they developed into songs. Most of the stuff that I recorded in my little home studio is what ended up on the album. It was so innocent; it was really built from the ground up." As the album neared completion, McConnell also recorded at producer Bryce Goggin's studio in Brooklyn.

The first song to come together was "Beauty of a Broken Heart," which opens the album. McConnell had begun working on it when he was still with Phish, and its hopeful message that good things can arise from difficult situations sets the tone for the album. On "Heavy Rotation," McConnell takes an affectionate look back at the dizzying swirl of life with his former band ("The music that came and went/Amusements that paid the rent/The rules that were slightly bent/But never too far"), and ends up wondering if he can "weather not the storm, but the calm." As if to answer that question, McConnell, Gordon, Zimmon and Keltner tear into a torrid, lengthy jam that suggests that his post-Phish life might not be so calm after all. "It's one of my favorite things on the album,"McConnell says. "Jim Keltner has always been a hero of mine, and to have him play on my record was a thrill."

Another burner is "Back in the Basement," a funky, eight-minute instrumental that McConnell wrote in Goggin's basement as work on the album was coming to a close. "We really got a good jam going on that," McConnell recalls. "Keltner just went off, and we went off – we were pushing each other. I had Trey come in and play on it, too, and he did a great job."

More personally, "Maid Marian" explores the interplay between yearning for an unattainable ideal in love and running the emotional risk involved in loving a flesh-and-blood person with all of her complexity. It's an affecting statement about getting ready to take the plunge again, but with a more realistic view of what's possible.

In that sense the song represents a contrast to an unlikely subject who turns up on the album in the person of the "Runaway Bride." McConnell treats the tabloid heroine with surprising respect –though perhaps his sympathy for someone running, however desperately, toward anew identify from a scripted future might not really be such a surprise after all. "I wrote that at a time when she was all over the news, but I didn't want to make fun of her," he says. "Thematically, it ties in with a lot of what going on in the album – conflict, changes. She's such an easy target, but I wanted it to be a song that, if she heard it, she wouldn't be offended."

For now, McConnell couldn't be more pleased with howwell his debut album turned out – and how satisfying the process of making it proved to be. "This album speaks to the confidence I've gained in the course of making it," he says. "It's like finding my own voice was part of making the album, and making the album was part of finding my own voice. Now it's going to come out,and people are going to hear it. That's pretty big for me – its huge. I feel great about where I am right now."
Venue Information:
Royale
279 Tremont St.
Boston, MA, 02116
http://royaleboston.com/