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Willie Porter

FALLING FORWARD (Six Degrees)  •  Willy Porter

Super hip character, major guitar slinger. I've had the fortuitous coincidence to run into three Willy shows around the country recently. Caught him at the Appel Farm Festival in Jersey last summer, then opening up for Jeff Beck at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville (where he absolutely slayed the over 30 crowd) and just last week at the legendary Kerrville Folk Festival in TX.

So I'm commenting as much on these three superb appearances as I am on this record, which I like, on this second pass. The live dates were deeply impressive, and I suggest you watch for his name in your local paper. But only if you enjoy seeing somebody get up on their guitar like a surfboard and ride huge curling waves of altered tunings, multiple capos, secret signal processing and funky personhood through and over the crowd, and glide into the beach smiling while everyone applauds, shaking their heads.

Porter's very loveable to the crowd. You cannot fake that stuff, cannot make them love you if you're not loveable. You have to put yourself out there, and he does in a beautiful way. He's fun and he's playful, all the while he's tearing his guitar to shreds before your eyes. He does his version of an old folk trick that few attempt, and that is to solicit several unrelated topics from the audience, and write a song around them right on the spot and perform it. That takes real cajones. But his unique spin on it is that he gives the audience three grooves to choose from: one kind of chicken pickin country thing, a poppier groove, and then this subsonic funky sex deal, I always yell for that one. (I believe the last one was the crowd choice at all three shows.)

I love me some Willy Porter, and I'm starting to really dig this record. He's got a bunch of voodoo buddies on it, craftily engineered and produced by Neil Dorfsman in NYC. We like the free spirit of this Six Degrees Records offering, we'll be looking into more releases from them. Find out more, or just throw down and buy it at Willy's website.   • FG

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