Travelodge check-in allegedly turns nasty for Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli

Beth Laberge/Special to the S.F. ExaminerTrouble: Guitarist Leo Nocentelli and other bandmates were reportedly harassed at a Travelodge on Market Street last week.

The famed guitarist of New Orleans-style funk band The Meters reportedly had an unpleasant exchange with a desk clerk at a San Francisco motel Thursday night, apparently prompting police to respond to the Travelodge on Market Street.

Following the band’s sound check for a show at the Brick and Mortar Music Hall in the Mission, Jason Perkins, a Bay Area nightclub manager, was trying to check in to the motel with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee Leo Nocentelli when the trouble began, according to an email Perkins sent to a friend and blogger at BoingBoing.

“I bought 4 rooms for the band and prepaid for them on debit card. After sound check, Leo and the band went to the hotel and tried to check in,” Perkins wrote. “The manager refused to accept 3 of 4 members credit cards for incidentals … I asked what the hell and manager pointed at 3 members and said he won’t accept credit cards and ‘those people’ need to pay cash deposit. When I asked what did he mean by ‘those people’ – he pointed at Leo and said ‘black people.’”

On Friday, a Travelodge manager who would identify himself only as Matthew said that account is inaccurate and that the men were asked for cash deposits because of a rejected credit card, which he said could only happen due to “insufficient funds.”

“He wasn’t denied because of his race, not at all,” Matthew said.

Matthew said that as the situation grew more tense, people in Nocentelli’s party began using racist terms against the Filipino desk clerk.

He did not go into detail on whether Nocentelli or his cohorts — which included former bandmates of Stevie Wonder and Lionel Ritchie — ended up staying at the motel.

Police had no record of a call for service at the Travelodge address Thursday night, but both sides of the conflict said officers were called to the scene. Neither side addressed whether anyone was arrested or cited.

Perkins was given contact information for a motel manager, Ginger Latu, who a Travelodge employee said on Friday no longer works there.

News of the spat made the rounds on Facebook on Friday, with some people expressing shock that an incident such as this could occur in San Francisco.

The band played shows Thursday and Friday in San Francisco.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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