April 24, 2008
Finding the music in a wider world
Singer/songwriter Willy Porter plays Stone Church
By Brian Early firstname.lastname@example.org
Willy Porter plays at the Stone Church on Friday, May 2. Now married with young children, Porter plays shows here and there, but this is the first tour he has undertaken in a couple of years. His last album, available light, was released in 2006, the first one under his own label. Although he recorded the album with a band, it will be a solo, three-week tour. His first album, The Trees Have Soul, was self-released in 1990.
Has making a living with music become easier over the years?
Itís been a great ride. I wouldnít trade any of it. Thereís been peaks and valleys. My sense of humility is still intact. I feel like I know less than what I thought I did. Music seems much more vast. Thereís Ö much more to write about, much more to think about, and thatís exciting. The guitar continues to be a great love affair with me. Iíve learned how to enjoy the music side of the industry by taking the reins of my own horse, and thatís been healthy. Now I have my own label, itís sort of come full circle. I was living for the sake of the music without the delusions of commercial success, and I feel like Iím in the same place. I think some people might be disappointed by the overall lack of progress. [Laughs] I have a family now and Iím able to support them doing what Iím doing, and Iím always amazed at that and grateful.
Why does music seem more vast to you now?
Iíve lived a little more. Iíve had bigger life experiences. When I put out The Trees Have Soul, in 1990, I didnít have much to say. The lexicon was pretty limited. When you walk through the world for a while, itís easier to put the pen to the page and take ownership of it. Loss or stupidity of your own actions ó those can be all pushed down in a particular way. For me itís been a longer process.
Whereís your head space now?
Right now itís been difficult. Iíve been so into raising kids. Trying to do the right thing for my family, the music has sort of taken a back seat ó to write a record and get things out quickly. Thereís still something to say, thereís still something to do. Iím excited about touring again. The morning in the hotel in room is very exciting. As far as writing goes, we live in a fascinating time and a challenging time. We are truly in a transitional time on the planet. Itís compelling and daunting to write about. In a way, weíre all focusing on the negative side. There are small miracles happening every day. Iím into exploring those.
What do you like about the morning after a gig in a hotel room?
Thereís nothing there. Youíre off the hook for thing you need to do. When Iím at home, itís making pancakes, getting the kids fed, riding bikes to school, all wonderful things. But itís nice not having anything in the morning.
How do you like New Hampshire?
Iíve toured here a lot. Tom Pirozzoli lives out near Lake Sunapee. I love coming out there and writing songs with him. Iíve been coming up to the Sunapee area since 1993. Tom has had an incredible impact on my life. Heís an amazing poet and antique dealer. He was my introduction to New Hampshire. The people there seem pretty open for East Coasters. Itís almost like Wisconsin. The people are friendly. I love the Stone Church. Itís got the right combination. Itís not too nice where people feel uncomfortable. You can still track in mud and nobodyís going to give you the hairy eyeball.
Whatís your transportation for the tour?
Iím driving the whole tour. I prefer it. Iíd rather drive than fly. I can bring more gear and have more fun with electronics. You get to meet more people and see people. Gas prices are high, but weíll get through it. I have an incredible sexy Dodge Caravan. I started with a Volkswagen GTI. It was a 1989. That went for 300,000 miles. It was a tremendous vehicle. Between that, Iíve been though a VW Passat, Mazda. Now I have the hand-me-down from my wife. Plus it has flex fuel so I can run ethanol.
How is it having your own label?
I just signed an artist, Natalia Zukerman, on my label, Weasel Records. Iíve been doing my own production. I have a studio in Milwaukee called the Engine Room, and thatís been really gratifying. I act as an empowering advocate to a song. Thatís helped me to see about how to go out and making my own record. As you get older, you have more to say, but you have to dig harder. As youíve grown up, so have the people who have listened to you. Iím really fascinated by that process. Bob Dylan has done amazing things as heís grown older with his audience.
Willy Porter Live
Where: The Stone Church, 5 Granite St., Newmarket
When: Friday, May 2, at 8 p.m.
Cost: $20 advance, $25 at the door.