Willy Porter – Tickets – Aladdin Theater – Portland, OR – September 28th, 2012

Willy Porter

Willy Porter

David Jacobs-Strain

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Aladdin Theater

Portland, OR

$20 adv/$22 dos

-21 permitted with parent or legal guardian

Willy Porter
Willy Porter
It's been a few miles across America, Canada, the UK and Europe since Willy Porter released his debut CD, "The Trees Have Soul" in 1990. Back then he traveled in his Volkswagen selling discs out of the trunk, mesmerizing audiences with his guitar chops and original tunes. In 1994, he released his second independent CD entitled, "Dog Eared Dream." The album marked Porter's artistic growth from his constant touring and a more developed songwriting perspective. The song "Angry Words" became a top-10 staple on Triple AAA radio stations around the country. This radio success established Porter as a nationally recognized artist, and brought the inevitable major label bidding war to a boil. "Dog Eared Dream" highlighted his pop songwriting sensibility and also his acoustic guitar work that would grow into a style uniquely his own — a mixture of Leo Kottke, Michael Hedges, Richard Thompson and Lindsey Buckingham. He would ultimately sign with Private Music/BMG in 1995. European and American tours with Rickie Lee Jones, Tori Amos and The Cranberries followed over the next year and a half. Private Music went super nova in 1997, and Porter was left in contractual limbo with BMG. Porter regained momentum in 1999 when he signed with San Francisco-based Six Degrees Records and released the folk-pop gem, "Falling Forward." Produced by Grammy winner Neil Dorfsman (Dire Straits, Sting), "Falling Forward" contained the radio friendly tracks "Mystery" & "Cut the Rope." National tours commenced with legendary artists Paul Simon, Sting, Jeff Beck and Jethro Tull.

In 2002, Porter brought seemingly disparate elements together on his eponymous self-titled disc, "Willy Porter." The album combined his fiery acoustic guitar work with career defining songwriting and vocal work — equal parts rock muscle, and folk-based intimacy. "Willy Porter" showed his growing vocal talents as he sidestepped through various character songs with power and detailed subtlety. In 2003, the solo live album "High Wire Live" would further forge Porters' relationship with his growing audience. It clearly showcased his mastery of the acoustic guitar in his most comfortable environment — his live show. He continued to stretch over the next couple of years morphing performance art, live audio looping, and improvisational sketch comedy into his solo whistle stops. Each tour date became a unique event, a musical experience much greater than just a review of past, present and future recorded work.

Porters' combined experience at both major and independent record labels ultimately fueled the drive to release a wider variety of music on a more frequent basis, and led Porter to start his own imprint, Weasel Records in December 2005. His latest release, "Available Light" (Ryko Distribution), features Porter at the peak of his powers as a guitarist, singer, songwriter & recording artist. Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, recently described Porter's musicianship this way: "Willy Porter's music demonstrates admirably that the technical excellence of his guitar-playing will never overwhelm the essence of the song itself. In perfect symbiosis, the disciplines of performance and songwriting combine together to create the unique work for which he is admired by professional peers and audiences alike. Oh — and a damn fine singer too. Thank goodness he doesn't play the flute." Porter, 41, lives in Milwaukee, WI and is married with two children.
David Jacobs-Strain
David Jacobs-Strain
David Jacobs-Strain, a consummate finger-style and slide guitarist, plays in the blues tradition but isn't from it. You'll hear echoes of Skip James, Charlie Patton, Tommy Johnson, and a song or two by Fred McDowell or Robert Johnson in his solo performances. But as a modern roots musician, singer, and songwriter, "I come from the language of the country blues, but it's important not to silence other influences," he says.

Upon listening to Jacobs-Strain's latest CD, Liar's Day, you can imagine him inviting his touchstone, American bluesman Taj Mahal, on a musical walkabout. You can imagine them conferring with Salif Keita, Afro-pop songster of Mali; and conversing with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Indian slide guitarist; and even conjuring the spirit of John Lennon while tramping in the Siskiyou Mountains of Oregon. The traces of these musical excursions interweave with the fat sounds of a rock rhythm section. The results cohere into a genre-defying journal of Jacob-Strain's pursuit to honor both the roots of American country blues and the possibilities that can grow from them.

The mix of instruments and old-school analog effects on this album produce "a sonic palette that's neither just blues nor just rock and roll," Jacobs-Strain says. Liar's Day was produced by his mentor and collaborator, Kenny Passarelli (Otis Taylor, Stephen Stills), who's also featured on the bass. They're joined by Joe Vitale on drums. "I wanted a big, aggressive drum sound; a Neil Young or Tom Petty sound;that still allowed space for the Traugott acoustic and National steel guitars. I got it by working with Joe and Kenny, Joe Walsh's rhythm section in the '70s."

His obsession with sound serves a deeper purpose than a mere desire to display technical wizardry. "For me, there's something about rural blues that has a transcendent quality, a wide open sound. Think of the rhythm of a train. There's a cross between spiritual and secular music in Fred McDowell. Compared to commercial electric blues, the Delta blues are more interesting modally and have a spiritual depth to them. You can also hear anger, humor, and empathy. I'm going after the texture, the tone and feel of that."

"I've always been drawn to the trance-oriented, heavier, Delta blues; to the driving, passionate, raw, distraught sound of somebody like Son House," he says. "When you're in the flow of the music, there's an ecstasy to it. Of course, when I was 12, I thought I knew what Robert Johnson's 'Come on into My Kitchen' was all about." The 24 year old Jacobs-Strain has refined his youthful expression of raw energy, passion, and technique into powerful, nuanced performances like those captured on Liar's Day.

He grew up in Eugene, Oregon, in a community that was centered on cultural change and environmentalism. He sees a distinct connection between the principles embodied in his upbringing and the democracy of the blues. "I'm really into hand-made culture; and real people making real music. The voice. One guitar. Even at their simplest, the blues have always been a vehicle for expressing your own situation, whether as an individual or a community. There's such power in that."

For the past three years Jacobs-Strain has been touring the country to share his musical explorations with diverse audiences. He's been billed with T-Bone Burnett and Bob Weir, and has opened for acts such as Los Lobos, Lucinda Williams, Taj Mahal, Etta James, Boz Scaggs, and the Blind Boys of Alabama. By the time he was 19, he had played at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and MerleFest. His other festival credits include the Strawberry Music Festival, the Newport Folk Festival, the Telluride Blues Fest, the Vancouver Folk Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival, and the Lugano Blues to Bop Festival in Switzerland. He's also served as faculty at guitar workshops, most notably at Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch.

"How do you continue to find inspiration in sound? Why does a certain musical phrase grab you by the hair and heart and brain? How do you continue to make it new? How do you honor the people who poured themselves into the music in the first place?" Jacobs-Strain asks. Whenever he strives to answer these questions, you'll want to be there to listen.