Porter performing in 2012
|Born||October 4, 1964
|Genres||Rock, blues, Jazz|
Porter's professional career as a musician began in 1990 with his album The Trees Have Soul with Paul Perrone. It was produced by Willy Porter, Paul Perrone & Randy Green. Much of this album was developed playing a Sunday night residency at the Club de Wash in Madison, Wisconsin. He hasn't left the road full-time since that first commercial release in 1990. His popularity began to rise in 1994 with the release of his critically acclaimed album Dog-Eared Dream, which had the successful single Angry Words, and led to his touring as an opening act for artists including Tori Amos, Rickie Lee Jones, and The Cranberries. He signed with BMG/Private Music in 1995, and later with San Francisco-based label Six Degrees Records in 1999 for whom he released three albums. During that time period, he toured with Sting, Paul Simon, and Jeff Beck. In 2005, he formed his own imprint, Weasel Records, with his manager Chris Webb. He then released the fan-favorite disc, "Available Light" in 2006 while also producing the whip-smart "Brand New Frame" album by guitarist/ songwriter Natalia Zukerman. During the next few years Porter would focus on label duties while raising a young family and producing. In 2009, he returned with the band album, "How to Rob a Bank." This project showcased Porter's songwriting as both lyrically rich and musically adventurous. He moves stylistically and linguistically from guitar-driven rock to the open tuned new acoustic frontier—shifting narrator voice and musical idiom. Following, his 2012 CD entitled, "Cheeseburgers & Gasoline," Porter released "Human Kindness" in 2014, followed by, "Bonfire to Ash", a collaboration with vocalist and songwriter Carmen Nickerson in November 2016. Currently, Porter is touring in support of that project under the combined name, Porter Nickerson.
Porter is an accomplished finger-style guitarist though he has focused more on song-based playing since his more free-form ensemble playing of the mid 1990s. His work has garnered widely positive reviews. The Washington Post wrote that "Porter is a dazzling acoustic guitarist with a moody baritone." The Village Voice said "Porter captures the street corner ethic of acoustic performance perfectly." The Boston Globe reported that Porter is a guitarist who possesses "the Olympian speed of Leo Kottke bolstered by rootsy vocals and twisting, offbeat lyrics."
- Leaving Tomah Home — 1988 (cassette)
- The Trees Have Soul — 1990 Southwind Music, 1996 Don't Records (additional track)
- Dog-Eared Dream — 1994 Southwind Music, 1995 Private Music (remixed and additional track)
- Falling Forward — 1999
- Willy Porter — 2002
- High Wire Live — 2003
- Available Light — 2006
- How To Rob A Bank — 2009
- Live at BoMA w/ Carpe Diem String Quartet — 2010
- Cheeseburgers & Gasoline — 2012
- "Human Kindness"—2015
- August 11, 2011. "UW-EC grad Willy Porter makes debut at The State - Leader-Telegram: Story". Leader-Telegram. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
- "How To Rob A Bank - Press Kit". Willy Porter. Retrieved 2011-08-12.