New Jersey Stage Sound Bites

By Danny Coleman, New Jersey Stage

“It’s everything small music rooms should be. There’s a patina, it’s the perfect room for people or artists who are on their way up or down. I’ve played there several times before; I love the vibe, the town, I just the love The Saint!” 
Those are the words of Wisconsin’s own Willy Porter as he discussed his upcoming appearance at The Saint in Asbury Park, NJ. Porter is not going the route alone, joining him is Carmen Nickerson; a talented songstress with mid-western roots. This pair has worked together in the past with great success and seem to feed off of one another and this tour is no exception. “Some years back I was looking for a female to partner up with,” explained Porter as he recounted how he and Nickerson began their musical journey. “I had been looking toward some of the bigger cities in surrounding areas and I wound up meeting her through a bass player friend of mine who said, “Yo man; why are you going to Chicago looking for someone when we’ve got someone much closer?” “He introduced me to Carmen and I just knew that she’d be a great fit.” 
Porter began the professional portion of his career in 1990 with the assistance of Paul Perrone, who along with himself and Randy Green produced his album, “The Trees Have Soul.” A prolific producer of material, he has recorded nine discs since the aforementioned release, with his latest being 2015’s “Human Kindness.” “My last record was in 2015; almost a year ago,” said Porter. “Human Kindness,” is why we are currently on tour as I am continuing, with Carmen’s help of course; to tour and support that release. The reason we are coming to the east coast and specifically Jersey is because Carmen and I are finishing up our record in New Jersey. We had a really nice run on the west coast where we played from Seattle to San Diego doing small clubs and theaters; a lot of great listening rooms like The Saint.” 
“Carmen’s help,” as he puts it, has become a regular way of operations for Porter. Along with her current support, Willy credits his family for his growth and interest in becoming a musician and songwriter“Yeah, I grew up with everything.My parents were into jazz and my older siblings were into rock ‘n’ roll. Slade, Pink Floyd, Joan Baez and jazz were all part of my distillation process,” he said with a laugh. “You are what you hear and what you hear, it can’t help but shape who you are and become; especially if you become a musician. Funny thing is that I can revisit a song that I wrote 20 years ago and reconstruct it or play it as is just to see if or how it changed; many people can’t say that about their jobs. I am very fortunate that my parents encouraged me and that I’ve been able to derive great joy for as long as I’ve done this.” 
The tour has been going “Very well” according to Willy and he says that his admiration for Carmen’s talent grows daily. This is something that has aided their creative process quite well; well, except for a title. “There’s no title yet,” he chuckled as he seemed somewhat bewildered that they’ve not found one to date. “We have 11 songs; all co-writes. Carmen and I have a mutual advocacy, if someone shows up with an idea; we’re both willing to pull it uphill to get it done. We have our differences of opinion just like anyone else but we’re both willing to push hard to get it done; I love working with her.” 
The future for Porter, much like this tour, has many more doses of Carmen on the way. ​ “Well, once we get this record done, Carmen and I have more stuff; we have enough material for two more albums. I’ve also got a collaboration in the works with piano player David Adler. I know that I’ll be writing a lot; I’ll put it all through a funnel and see what pops out!” 
The Saint is the perfect small, listening room for a duo such as this. The club is known for catering to original artists and its size and dimensions allow for an intimacy that the larger venues can’t match. The show takes place on April 17 at 7 p.m. with the incomparable Neil Nappe opening up the evening. Nappe’s finger tapping and percussive style are nothing short of impressive. Porter says that he and Carmen will be running the gamut with selections from both artists. “Oh yeah, we’re going to be doing a bunch of songs from my catalog that I’ve not played in a long time, the new stuff with Carmen, some of her material; we’ve got an array of choices and something for everyone. There’s something special about The Saint, it has a great rock ‘n’ roll vibe, it’s loose; I really just love playing there.” 
The Saint is located at 601 Main Street in Asbury Park and tickets are $20. Prior to their appearance, the duo will be making a stop at “Danny Coleman’s Rock On Radio” where they’ll be doing a live on air interview/performance session beginning at 1 p.m. EST. The program will be aired live in its entirety on www.40footholestudio.com

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