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Willy Porter

How does a young viola player become a folk-rock guitarist? Perhaps Leo Kottke is to blame. At least in Willy Porter's case he is. Upon hearing Kottke's 6 & 12 String Guitar, everything changed for a young Porter. He put down his bow and grabbed a pick. The rest is history and still in the making. Hailing from Wisconsin, the multiple WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) award-winner honed his performance chops in the cafes and clubs around Madison. He also sat on the concert committee in college where he met another guitar legend who would influence him greatly, the late Michael Hedges. A singer, songwriter, storyteller, entertainer, and extraordinary guitarist, Porter defies labels and bends genres. He moves between slide blues, acoustic folk, grooving rock, and soulful pop with grace and equipoise. They all combine to create the uniqueness that is his sound.

Being the innovator that he is, Porter released Trees Have Souls on his own in 1990, followed by Dog-Eared Dream in 1994. With consistent touring and the help of adult alternative radio, he built a national following and a modest hit with "Angry Words." This success led to a deal with Private Music, which re-released Dog-Eared Dream in 1995, and opening slots for the Cranberries, Rickie Lee Jones, Vonda Shepard, and Tori Amos, who handpicked Porter from a mountain of contenders. However, all of the newfound celebrity took its toll. And as often happens with independent spirits, Porter became disillusioned with the major-label scene and spent several years untangling himself from that web. After finding a new home at Six Degrees Records, Porter returned in 1999 with Falling Forward, a fine showcase of his ever-deepening strength as an artist and songwriter. He followed with a self-titled album in 2002, featuring guests Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, Seal), Charlie Drayton (Keith Richards, B52's, Don Henley), and Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull). The concert set High Wire Live appeared from Six Degrees Records in 2003. Available Light followed in 2006 and How to Rob a Bank in 2009, both released by Weasel Records. ~ Kelly McCartney
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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russ.haven
Nice review, but fails to mention this guy is a MONSTER GUITAR PLAYER! Incredible technique and skill. In addition to having a fine singing voice, he does things on guitar that few would imagine, much less perform. Definitely worthy of your hard earned entertainmen t dollars.
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I've seen Willy three times and he is A-Mazing! What an incredible talent! He not only is a fabulous musician he is a great entertainer. If you get the chance to catch a show....don' t miss it!
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I first saw Willy on the Chief Waupaca paddle wheel boat in '98. He played at our wedding party in '12. Wisco Proud! One of the best!
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Don't care for him
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He needs to come to Austin. I think people would welcome him. No doubt about it.
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mlewis12
Willy killed it in Sisters at the SFF!!!!
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Why can't more artists be individuals like Willy Porter. So much sameness, whether it be in rock, R&B, pop. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, bland, bland, bland, bland, bland.
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clmay41
This guy is great !!!!!
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wille kicks bootie! we go see him anytime he's neer. if you like him check out Michael Mcloud, Pandora needs to find him. google his site, you won't b sorry!!
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movalbob4
we're going to see Willy next Friday in San Diego. Saw him twice before. Looking forward to another great concert!
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i saw this guy open for tori amos in 1994 and he was awesome
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Willy Porter will be in Sturgeon Bay tomorrow Tuesday June 20th! I can't wait to hear him again!
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tourwonk
I must say he is one of my all-time fave live performers! World Cafe Live in Phily in 2008 with Natalia Zukerman opening.. she is on his label and he produced her cd Brand New Frame.
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marshawells
Wow - thanks Pandora for exposing me to Willy's music. It stopped me in my tracks.
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Willy is an amazing artist I have seen him in big venues and small ones he is a pleasure to watch in both settings. I love the way he makes songs from audience members vocabulary soup on stage. A true performer 100%, His songs and music tell stories like listening to your grandfather or best friend. If you get a chance go see this remarkable talented singer, songwriter, and exceptional guitarist do so he is one talent that should not be missed.
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I've seen Willy in concert a couple of times and he is amazing. You'll appreciate his music even more.
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What Tom said below but I want to take him sailing saw him with Tull then with the rest of the band in FallRiver Mass just saw him in Natick Mass with a female percussionis t who was amazing. My wife and I will never miss a local show as long as he is playing.
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First saw Willy several years ago when he opened for Jeff Beck in Santa Rosa. Probably the best opening act I've ever seen in over 40 years of concerts. Saw him again in a coffee shop in Chico a few years later. Wished I'd asked him to go fishing with me the next day. Not only a superior guitarist but a tremendously engaging storyteller and person. He'll take a set of random words from the audience and create a song on the spot. I hope he comes back to the Bay Area again some time soon.
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mia_star
If you get a chance to see Willy live, go!
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I've witnessed this incredible individual in concert 3 times now. It's absolutely amazing to watch someone with this much talent doing something he enjoys. Not to be missed.
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Choosing2bfr e e
Love it!!!
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Yes Dorothy, trees do have souls..Willy Porter is a new addition for me...from Pandora. Thanks. I suspect he will just keep getting better and better. Love the St. Croix, Willy, but come visit us in Kansas. RLH
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pugbaily
great sound
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dhlavaty
Attended college at same time as Willy and often saw him play at the student union (where we also saw Michael Hedges). It's amazing that the same guy who used to sing "Vegetable Chaos" has evolved into this awesome musician. Thought he was good before - just keeps getting better.
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Anyone who likes this guy check out Keller Williams.
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heard one of his songs on an alternative radio station in chicago before his first album came out. i waited for over a year - guess there was problem with producers??? anyway, LOVE him, but i still think his first album was the BEST.
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If you have never had the honor of seeing Willy live on stage, you are missing out on an incredible experience. His guitar strumming will have you mezmerized, his lyrics are very soulful, and his improv with the audience is astonishing. I was fortunate enough to meet him in Easton, MD and he's one cool cat - genuine and down-to-eart h . Rock on, Willy!!
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I'm lucky enough to live in Madison and he's AWESOME live. His vibe is as good as his music...
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I've heard his name. I was blown away by a song of his latest album that I found on the fender my space page. I went to his website and he has quickly become my favorite artist I've discovered in a while.
As a musician, he is more gifted than his simple folk songs sound. Delving into alternate tunings, some were listed on his page, and I've never heard of them. His knack for jumping out immediately as unpretentiou s and honest , puts him in the David Grey and Jeff Buckley boat. A

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