I’m a big fan of Willy Porter and was thrilled to get to watch him perform at the renowned McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. From the first note, Willy Porter, a contemporary American rock musician and singer-songwriter from Mequon, Wisconsin, had his audience mesmerized. Porter has a unique finger-picking, guitar thumping-slapping-hammer-on style, uses tunings of all manners, and sometimes even places two capos on his fret board at once. The magical tone of his guitar and his soulful lyrics mixed in with his heartwarming humor make his show something pretty damn special. At one point, on strumming his guitar, Porter pointed out that all the other stringed instruments hanging on the walls of McCabe’s were resonating. It’s called Synchronized Resonance or Sympathetic Vibrations. I love that, as I think “sympathetic vibrations” describes Porter’s music and his being quite succinctly.
As Porter performs you feel like you’re hanging with a good friend. A warm, sincere, decent fellow that you cherish as a rare find. His music wraps you in a loving blanket that invites you to relax and join in.
After talking about the importance of good stewardship of mother earth, he invited the audience to sing along to “Akasha Winds”, a song penned by L.J. Booth. The song is included on Mnemonic, Porter’s latest CD. Not that Porter usually does cover songs, he’s a prolific songwriter, with 12 CD’s released. He makes songwriting appear easy, so easy in fact, that he co-write a song on the spot with the audience. “Call out some ideas”, he encouraged. We ended up with a song that included the words: hitchhiking, Ramen noodles, cheese curds, kittens, hypocrisy and folk alliance. Tricky words to slip into a song, but Porter did it artfully while making us all laugh.
Porter was described to me as: not only a consummate musician, but one of the most genuine, truly wonderful people on the planet, who performs molecule-rearranging shows. Now, doesn’t that sound like someone you’d like to hangout with? Well, you can because Willy will be leading a tour to Ireland in August 2020 (bring your instruments) – you can find more info on that at www.willyporter.com You can also find Porter’s most requested guitar tunings at his site. How cool is that!
I got to ask Willy some questions and below are his answers – enjoy!
1) Your guitar sounds so full and rich. What guitar are you using and how many different tunings are you dealing with?
I’m currently playing a Jason Kostal 6-String. It is a remarkable instrument for its overall tonal balance, intonation and playability. I tune down a whole step, D to D, then open-tune from there. So a very familiar open-tuning fro many guitarists, “DADGAD” for me is CGCFGC. From there I’ll use a lot of different variations on Bb, F, and combine open-tunings with partial capos, etc. I use medium gauge strings (.013-.56), so the really low tunings are still fairly stable to work with. I’ll go through about 6 or 7 different tunings in the course of a night, but it all depends on where the night goes musically.
2) How old were you when you first picked up a guitar?
I started playing when I was 12.
3) What’s your craziest on stage experience?
Sound-checking in Texas while Paul Simon was on-stage watching and asking me questions about what I was doing was probably the craziest moment for me.
4) What song of yours is your favorite?
The one I just finished, whatever that might be. I do like to play “Bears Ears &The Great Law” a lot these days though.
5) Which musician would you go to see perform if you could (dead or alive)?
6) Has your songwriting style changed over the years, and how many CD’s do you have available to date?
I think I’m more patient with the process of writing than I was when I started. Some music takes a long time to write, other songs happen very, very quickly. Through time and effort I’ve learned to let that process be what it is in the moment.
7) If you were interviewing you, what question would you ask?
I’d ask “When was the moment that music really spoke to you for the first time?” And it was hearing my dad play the piano.
8) What’s next for you?
I’m looking forward to working and writing with drummer Dave Schoepke and bassist Eric Madunic. We’ve had fun as a trio and I think we have some nice musical terrain ahead of us. I’m excited to see where the music might take us.
Photo Credits: Cover photo by Leeann Flynn
Insert B&W photo by Mark Waite
COME CELEBRATE NATIONAL MARGARITA DAY AT TREJO’S TACOS/TREJO’S CANTINA
$3.99 OG Margaritas All-Day! What a deal!
Who: National Margarita Day at Trejo’s Tacos/Cantina.
What: Trejo’s will be offering $3.99 OG Margaritas all-day!
When: Saturday, February 22nd, 2020
Where: At all Trejo’s locations.
Dance the Night Away at a Leap Day Silent Disco in Downtown Santa Monica
Enjoy a free silent disco, dueling DJs and leap day birthday treats from Carlo’s Bakery at Third Street Promenade
Saturday, February 29 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Dance like no one is watching in Downtown Santa Monica
during a free Leap Day Silent Disco
on Saturday, February 29 from 6 – 9 p.m at Third Street Promenade. Celebrate February’s extra day with friends, families, and loved ones making memories that last a lifetime while enjoying unlimited dancing, dueling DJs, free treats and Carlo’s Bakery
cupcakes for all the leap day babies.
Grab your dancing shoes and get your groove on to one of three live DJ sets with a personal light-up headset at this exciting leap day festivity. Attendees celebrating their leap day birthday will be given a free cupcake and birthday treats from Carlo’s Bakery
, as featured on Cake Boss, with valid Photo ID. No matter your age, all are invited to experience a fun evening dancing under the night sky on Third Street Promenade to bring in 2020’s long awaited extra day.
Saturday, February 29 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
1300 Block of the Third Street Promenade
Parking is widely available in the downtown structures including the Santa Monica Public Library or Parking Structures 9 and 10 just north of Wilshire Boulevard. Biking, walking and public transit are encouraged.
Leap Day Silent Disco is free and open to the public. A photo ID is required to use the headsets. For more information, visit www.downtownsm.com/
or follow along on social media on Facebook
, or Instagram
Cover photo: provided courtesy of Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.
Catalina Island Museum
presents Project Azorian: The CIA’s Greatest Covert Operation
, a lecture detailing the story of the highly secret and elaborate 6-year effort to retrieve a sunken Soviet submarine from the Pacific Ocean floor through mission artifacts and a slideshow on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. in the Ackerman Family Amphitheater.
In 1968 at the height of the Cold War, K-129, a Russian submarine on patrol in the North Pacific was lost. The Russians searched for the sub but could find no trace of it. The U.S. located the submarine on the ocean floor 16,800 feet below water.
The CIA was desperate to recover the submarine and especially its contents to determine if the submarine carried nuclear weapons and what krypto equipment was recoverable. But the Russians were watching closely. Using Howard Hughes mining the ocean floor as a cover, the CIA built a 650-foot ship, the Hughes Glomar Explorer with the goal of secretly raising the submarine from the ocean floor – some 3 miles deep – without the Soviets knowing. The mission, codenamed Project Azorian, was one of the most complex, expensive and secretive intelligence operations of the Cold War.
Local Catalina Island resident, Charlie Canby, a naval architect and marine engineer, worked on the design of the ship and sailed on the Hughes Glomar Explorer in the capacities of an ordinary seaman and welder. Canby served as the Resident Naval Architect on the actual recovery mission in 1974. During the lecture, Canby will take attendees on a journey telling the story of this 6-year mission through artifacts and a slideshow lecture including the conceptual design of the ship, the cover story and the recovery mission itself. He will also detail the mysteries of why the Hughes Glomar Explorer anchored four times at the Isthmus (Two Harbors) at Catalina Island.
Saturday, February 15 | 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5 p.m.)
Ackerman Family Amphitheater
Catalina Island Museum, 217 Metropole Avenue, Avalon, CA 90704
Children (ages 3-15): Free with paid adult admission
About Catalina Island Museum
The Catalina Island Museum offers the best in art and history exhibitions, music and dance performances, lectures by guest speakers from all over the world, and the finest in silent, documentary and international film. Open seven days a week, the new Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building is located in the heart of Avalon at 217 Metropole Avenue. For more information, the museum may be reached by phone at 310-510-2414 or at its website: CatalinaMuseum.org.