A New York friend strongly suggested I see Willy Porter perform, going so far as checking on his local dates for me. Accommodating person that I am, since I had a hole in my schedule I decided to see him at Tupelo Music Hall, one of my favorite venues because the audiences are usually extremely respectful of the music.
I am glad I did. Willy is an entertaining performer, an excellent guitarist, and someone who obviously loves what he does.
Willy’s style is mostly blues. He adds a percussive beat to most of his songs and that is something I have come to love. He also plays an instrument I do not believe I have ever seen – a 9-string guitar! When I saw it, my first thought was that it was a 12-string but I did not see enough tuning keys on the headstock. I wish I had taken a closer look at it.
At every show (or so I was told), Willy asks the audience to yell out words that he weaves into a song. On this night, he received incredibly disparate words (including Hillary Clinton) and delivered a witty song. I wish I could remember the other words that he was given – I should have written them down!
Willy is currently touring with Carmen Nickerson. She was not familiar to me, but she is a good counterpoint to Willy. Her seductive voice complements his quite well, and their lightly teasing manner with each other was fun to experience.
As I mentioned above, Willy adds a percussive beat in many songs, using his guitar as the ‘drum’. He also uses a computer loop to add depth to his music without adding other musicians. I do not always like that, but at this show I did because it did not sound fake or computerized.
This audience was obviously well versed in Willy’s music, for when asked for song suggestions in the encore, there were a lot of different songs requested. In fact, Willy and Carmen were out of the room, half the audience had departed, and the house lights had been raised when they were brought back for a second encore! Nobody was more surprised than Willy.
This was an ideal show to see on a Friday night after a busy week; the music was good and accessible, and I did not have to work hard to enjoy it!