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Warren Haynes: Working-Class Hero

Warren Haynes: Working-Class Hero

Solid As a Rock
Legendary bassist George Porter Jr. talks about holding down the low end on Man in Motion.

Armed with his vintage Fender P bass, George Porter Jr. established the sound and feel of modern New Orleans music with the seminal R&B band, the Meters. Even though Man in Motion was the first full studio record Porter has recorded with Haynes, it wasn’t the first time they had worked together.

“A year or so after the Mule’s original bass player passed away, Warren was doing a record and Art Neville and myself got a call to come up and play on the record,” remembers Porter. “Pretty much from there, the handwriting was on the wall. When they decided to go out on the road to support that album, Greg Rzab and I got the call to do the tour.”

Although the band Haynes assembled for the new album had never played together before, the rhythm section had some history together. “I had played with both Ivan Neville and Raymond Weber before,” says Porter. “They grew up in and around the scene in New Orleans, musically and otherwise, their whole lives. The three of us had a connection that was pretty developed. When Warren showed us the songs, we could tell it was right in the vein of the music we grew up with.”

When it comes to the tools of his trade, Porter is rarely found without his iconic Fender P bass. “The neck on the P bass is a ’63 and the body had a fretless neck on it when I bought it in 1970. The Meters didn’t like the fretless concept, and I was ordered to get rid of it or ‘they would break it,’ in the words of Art Neville.”

Even though the band didn’t like the fretless sound, Porter didn’t abandon the axe completely. “Basically, I really liked the tone of that particular bass and the CBS pickups more than I liked the sound of the original P basses. The CBS basses seemed to have a lot more punch to them. So instead of looking for another bass, I went looking for a neck to put on that bass.”
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