Russell Batiste Tribute by George Porter Jr. and Friends | Brooklyn Bowl | 3/16/2024

Article Contributed by Jamie Huenefeld | Published on Monday, March 25, 2024

Funk legend and Meters' bassist George Porter Jr. returned to the Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, NY on Saturday, March 16, 202, along with his band Runnin' Pardners to celebrate the life of drummer Russell Batiste. He also brought many accomplished friends including drummer Adam Deitch, keyboardist John Papa Gros, and guitarist Cris Jacobs. Together, this group delivered a deliciously funky set of tunes from an array of bands that Batiste was in, most notably including The Meters and The Funky Meters.

George Porter Jr | Russell Batiste Tribute

Batiste was a child musical prodigy who grew up in New Orleans, LA and played in the Batiste family band at the age of 6. Upon reaching high school, he became an incredible drummer for the St. Augustine Marching 100 High School Band. After that, he met George Porter Jr, who tapped him to be the drummer for the legendary jazz-funk artist, The Meters. He eventually served as the drummer for the later rendition, The Funky Meters. He was the go-to funk drummer in the town that pioneered funk and was also in bands such as Vida Blue, Papa Gros Funk, Runnin' Pardners, Dumpstaphunk, Bonerama, the Wild Magnolias, and the Joe Krown Trio, as well as his own Orkestra from da Hood and Russell Batiste & Friends. He was also a band leader who produced and wrote music.

Chris Jacobs | Russell Batiste Tribute

Sadly, Batiste passed away last year from a heart attack. George decided to organize a tribute tour to honor the musical legacy of this talented drummer. This tribute featured a set from the Runnin' Parders current lineup, followed by a supergroup set.

Adam Deitch | Russell Batiste Tribute

The show began with Runnin' Pardners current lineup, which comprised guitarist Chris Adkins, keyboardist Michael Lemmler, and George on bass. Deitch sat in for Batiste on drums and certainly had big shoes to fill. The set was funky from beginning to end, and included the classic "Cissy Got the Blues" > "Just Kissed My Baby."

Russell Batiste Tribute | Brooklyn Bowl

After a short break, the supergroup tribute assembled on stage. This included George, Deitch, Gros, and Jacobs, along with a horns section consisting of Mark Mullins and Tracy Griffen. Mullins was Batiste's bandmate in Bonerama. An instrumental tune kicked off the music before George launched into a raging "Fire on the Bayou," which also ignited a crowd singalong.

Russell Batiste Tribute | Brooklyn Bowl

Gros took a few moments to tell stories about Batiste, before this fiery ensemble dove into more funky classics like "Fire In The Garage" and "Motha Funk Y'all." Gros once again took the mic to tell stories, such as the instance where Batiste convinced Gros to play "Ain't No Use" at a wedding against his better judgment. The crowd loved the tune, and Batiste said "I told ya so" after they finished playing. Adam's father, Bobby Deitch, joined the squad on the kit for this tune. It was certainly a family affair.

Brooklyn Bowl | Brooklyn, NY

Batiste loved audience participation. To honor this, the band played his song, "Ridin' Through The Mountains," originally written for Papa Gros Funk. Before this, Gros taught the crowd to say "Oh yea!" when he said "What!" Gros proceeded through several practice rounds to get the crowd ready for the task. The crowd got into it, as did Deitch, with another mind-melting drum solo.

Russell Batiste Tribute | Brooklyn, NY

The evening came to a triumphant close with funk classics "Soul Island" > "Hey Pocky A-Way" > "Africa." It felt like the Brooklyn Bowl had transformed into the French Quarter during these well known tunes.

Drummer Adam Deitch | Brooklyn Bowl

Porter certainly had a special connection to Batiste, and the audience got the opportunity to feel the love. Batiste was incredibly accomplished, and there will no doubt be more tributes for this legendary funk drummer.

Check out more photos from the show!

Set One: Instrumental, All We Want To Do, Hand Clapping Song, Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor, I Get High, Out In The Country, Pungee, Cissy Got the Blues > Just Kissed My Baby
Set Two: Jam > Fire On The Bayou, Thinking, Fire In The Garage, Motha Funk Y’all, Soul Second Line, It Ain’t No Use, Ridin’ Through The Mountains, Soul Island > Hey Pocky A-Way > Africa

John Papa Gros shares stories about Russell | Brooklyn Bowl

Drummer Adam Deitch | Brooklyn Bowl

Tracy Griffen | Russell Batiste Tribute

Mark Mullins | Russell Batiste Tribute