Laid back, engaging and friendly, chef Brack May sat with me in his restaurant Cowbell, cracking jokes in a successful effort to make me laugh. His eclectic eatery was bustling behind the scenes, but since it was a half-hour before opening, we had the dining area to ourselves when I asked about one of his favorite local musicians.
"I'd have to go with George Porter,"he said, replying to my query. May started getting into The Meters back in the mid-80's while attending college at Evergreen in Washington State. He was working at a radio station and when what he calls "white boy funk" started becoming popular, he occasionally found himself hanging out with some of the bands that would come into town to perform...like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. "I knew that Flea idolized George, that was his inspiration - his reason for playing music....after that, I had to find out where all that new funk was coming from."
Enjoying the funky sounds created by The Meters and George Porter, Jr. while at a show or kicking back at home is one thing, but can you cook to it?
"There was a time in 96/97 I came down and went a show. It was Jazz Fest and they played a rippin' version of 'Just Kissed My Baby' and I took that music back with me to North Carolina." At the time, May was working at Pop's, a popular trattoria in Durham. "I obsessively started playing Meters and old funk and New Orleans Brass and everyone asked me why. I said 'You know why? Because this is what reminds them to be happy and it reminds me to be happy.'"
Tasting Notes is a new, tag-team feature at Where Y'at. Anne Berry goes out with musicians to share their favorite meal and Kim Ranjbar takes it from there, returning to the restaurant to get that chef's favorite local band or solo artist. Then Anne shares a favorite dish with that musician, and back around it goes.