Willy Porter is a contemporary American rock musician and singer-songwriter from Mequon, Wisconsin. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. 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 1999, he formed his own imprint, Weasel Records, with his manager Chris Webb. Porter later opened for Jethro Tull, where he formed a long lasting friendship with Tull’s guitarist, Martin Barre. Porter’s songwriting is both lyrically rich and musically adventurous. Porter’s music moves easily from guitar-driven rock to the open tuned wonderland of the new acoustic frontier. His live shows combine his guitar playing, songwriting and on-stage improvisational skills as a storyteller, performance artist and comedian. His latest CD is entitled, “Cheeseburgers & Gasoline,” (released Nov 2012) and is available from Weasel Records.
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.”