By ROB NAGY
For 21st Century Media
efined by his rich lyrical content, an unmistakable voice and electrifying guitar work, veteran singer songwriter Willy Porter is undeniably one of music’s most profound artists.
Porter is enjoying a solo career that routinely finds him playing to sold-out clubs, coffee houses and theatres.
Nearly two years since the release of his “Cheeseburgers & Gasoline” (2012), Porter has completed the recording of his next album. An impending Kickstarter campaign is expected to yield a summer release.
“The album is called “Human Kindness,” says Porter. “It’s very organic — a played live kind of a vibe. It was made in my house with real humans in the same room. I think it leans toward Americana in terms of the sensibility of what the songs are doing. It’s a rock record, with an acoustic slant to it. It’s also a pop album in some ways, but not in the way we think of pop music today. It’s not slick in any way. The idea of using the word human is very intentional in the title in that it’s not a perfect thing, and I really like it because it’s beautifully imperfect. It’s got some nice moments that I think are powerful, and I think it paces really well as an album.”
Porter’s debut album, “The Trees Have Soul” was released in 1990, but he gained notoriety and critical acclaim with his follow-up album, “Dog Eared Dream”(1994), which included the single “Angry Words.”
After signing with San Francisco based Six Degrees Records in 1999, he released the albums “Falling Forward” (1999), “Willy Porter” (2002) and “High Wire Live” (2003). It was also during this time that Porter and his manager, Chris Webb, formed the independent label, Weasel Records. That label produced additional Porter solo efforts “Available Light” (2006), “How To Rob A Bank” (2009), “The Mealies — Live at BoMA” (2010] and “Cheeseburgers & Gasoline” (2012).
Throughout his career, Porter has experienced pivotal opportunities to share the concert stage with such artists as Tori Amos, The Cranberries, Rickie Lee Jones, Paul Simon, Jeff Beck, Sting and Jethro Tull.
While Porter considers himself lucky to be living his dream as an actively touring and recording musician, he recognizes the challenges that he has had to face and defines his interpretation of success.
“I think it’s the age old axiom of just the right timing means a lot,” said Porter. “I think you have to deliver as soon as you break through. You can get a break, but then you have to take it to the next level, and you have to hit the ball out of the park. I had lots of breaks. I’m not going to say I didn’t deliver, because I did the best I could. That’s the nature of this business. I think it separates people out. Those who are in it for the art say they stand a good chance of having a career for the long term. If you’re in it to try to be the person that fills the stadiums, I get that too, but that’s much more unlikely to happen, and I think that takes a different set of objectives and goals to make that happen, and that was just never my goal. I really looked at it as ‘the art defines your direction more than your direction defines the art.’ That is just how it has to be for me.”
Porter is looking forward to returning to the East Coast this month for a string of shows that will find him returning to Phoenixville’s Steel City Coffee House.
“The whole show is very different from what people have seen from me in the past in terms of just material,” said Porter. “I am going to be performing with Carmen Nickerson, who sings in my band and was on the ‘Cheeseburgers & Gasoline’ album. It is very different from the standpoint that we’ve written a lot of duet songs that are really dealing with relationship stuff from both points of view. We have a really cool thing. Musically it is really deep. I really like it.”
“This whole journey is written in pencil,” added Porter. “If you look at that from a musicians point of view, when you’re in the room with all these people that have come to hear music, that’s the only thing we can’t replace with technology. You can’t replace that human vibe in the room, thank goodness. I think that’s really a sacred relationship. I really see it that way. It’s as much about everybody sitting in that room as it is about me. If they weren’t there, I wouldn’t have their vibe to feed on. That wheel is something I really revere.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Willy Porter
WHERE: Steel City Coffee House, 203 Bridge St., Phoenixville.
WHEN: 7 p.m. April 13.
TICKETS: Tickets can be purchased by calling (610) 933-4043 or at www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com.