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- June 6, 1996

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Willy Porter Band
A Concert Review

December 19, 1996

House of Blue

Chicago, IL

A Review by
The Dude on the Right
I got some nasty e-mail the other day. It simply said "Get your head out of your ass, Willy Porter, middle of the road rock? Fuck Off! Sorry if I sound opinionated. B:-," This was in reference to the Willy Porter Band review Stu Gotz gave seeing him open for Tori Amos. Well, my defense was Stu only had 30 minutes to come up with an analysis of Willy Porter and his band when he opened for Tori. The nice fellow wrote back stating his love for Willy, and figured that if we saw Willy in an entire show, our attitude would change. I can't speak for Stu, but depending on the set Willy played opening for Tori, I can see where his opinion might have come, but from the show I saw, and the diversity of Willy's music, I've got my own opinion.

The Willy Porter Band was playing the House of Blues in Chicago, which, in a story for later in this article, is not my favorite place to see a show. My first impression as Willy took the stage was "nice hat." He had a lovely winter, knit cap on, and then he started playing guitar. I began to understand what our reader was talking about. Forgive me for the lack of a set-list, I had never heard of Willy other than Stu's review, but plan to listen to him more in the future. Why? Well, Willy's style reminds me of the musical gamut short of the heavy metal/alternative style genre. See, at one point, during a song I think was called "Where Do The Trees Grow?" (feel free to correct me if wrong all of you in internet land), I began the attitude that Mr. Porter is one hell of a talented guitarist. During this little song his rhythms and pickings reminded me of the guitar great Al Di Meola. At about this time, Stu, who came along for the ride, scribbles down "Willy Porter is to 'sit back and groove' guitar as Joe Satriani is to 'rock and roll' guitar." Hmm, that's a different observation, I suppose he is sort of right because you won't be "banging your head" to Willy, but you will be amazed. Then, as I'm contemplating what Stu wrote, Willy breaks in to, yea, scream and yell if the song title is wrong, but I think I heard something like "I can't hear nobody callin'." Now, instead of jazz I'm hearing what I call folksy blues. The song reminded me of Elvin Bishop and now I'm being more and more impressed of the diversity of Willy Porter's musical variety.

The show continues and I'm hearing this unique blend of jazz fusion, blues, country, and, if some of these songs are what he played opening for Tori, I can see where Stu got his perception, because some of the songs were right out of mainstream pop, a la Hootie. But those songs are few and far between for The Willy Porter Band because most of his show is about guitar, really great guitar, and I am one to now admire his work.

I guess, in the end, I really don't know what else to say about The Willy Porter Band, but if you like some great guitar work in a mix of music that ranges from blues to sort-of folk to country to a little pop, Willy and his band should be your men. And, oh yea, he does this great Beatles medley that, as Stu puts it, kept the feel of the original songs but shifted them just enough to make them his own. He's a talented guy with a talented band and that goes a long way in my book.

Now, before the rating, let's get to the problem with the House of Blues right now. Right now, hopefully just because it is new, it's a tourist trap for concerts. See, the way the place is set up, it's kinda like seeing a band in a big bar where most of the crowd isn't there to see the band. That is to say that you have a group of people right in front of the band that is there to see the band, and the rest of the people huddled around the bars, talkin' up a storm, and ruining the concert going experience for those oFF">Your DVD's