Trace Bundy and Willy Porter


May 1, 2017 – 7:30 PM

3701 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22305 Map

  • Trace Bundy
  • Willy Porter

More Info

Trace Bundy: An accomplished acoustic guitar virtuoso, Trace Bundy sells out shows across five continents with his rare combination of expert capo and fingerpicking techniques, unique stage banter, and jawdroppingly difficult arrangements. While his success was built upon a direct connection with his fans-- his videos are attracting 12 million YouTube views and counting--Trace has also garnered the critical acclaim of major media outlets like 'Acoustic Guitar Magazine', earning the title "Most Promising New Talent."

Willy Porter: On the surface, Willy Porter comes full circle with Available Light, returning to where he began when he made his first CD, The Trees Have Soul (1990). Like his debut, Available Light is self-produced and issued on his own label. But in the 16 years, the AAA hit ("Angry Words") and four CDs separating the two releases, Porter has dug in and built on his strengths as a guitarist, singer and songwriter, extending the range and scope of his vision.

Porter has always been in the enviable position of having it both ways as a singer-guitarist, able to play clubs and concert halls with equal confidence, and writing songs for solo performance that could easily be fleshed out in a full band. With Available Light, Porter began with the premise of making a rock recording, a group effort whose songs are arranged not primarily for himself, but for the talents of his touring band. The result is not at odds with the Willy Porter who has gained a network of fans, but is the fruit of a fuller sonic palette, reflecting the colors of great bands from the '60s and '70s and echoing the roots of Americana.

The title track combines atmospheric electric guitar with traditional Travis-style finger picking to create a lush backdrop for the lyrical content of the tune with very few brush strokes. The lyric, "maybe what we don't have, we don't need..." nicely summarizes the pathos of what Porter calls a "folk 'n roll" recording where he and his band move through spartan arrangements with precision and soul. The album also rocks in a way Porter hasn't on record until now.

"Loose Gravel" had been road-tested for years with his band, comprised of Dave Adler (keyboards and co-production), Dave Schoepke (drums and percussion) and Steve Kleiber (bass). It is finally captured here, featuring some swampy lap-steel from Porter, and inventive phrasing from Adler's B-3 organ. "Still Doing Time" is a beautifully pensive writing collaboration with fellow Milwaukee native Paul Cebar, and easily one of the albums brightest moments. It conjures shades of early Neil Young recordings with a distant piano and bone-dry drums. Porter says "Set Yourself Free" is a rock soliloquy, "... to a junkie who won't work on staying clean." The song features some deft electric guitar work from Porter who has often left those chores to others in the past.

Most of Available Light was written and recorded during a time when terminal illness overtook Porter's father. "The songs were all informed by the raw emotions of that time," Porter says. Available Light is no downer, however. The air of sadness that could easily have dominated the disc is replaced by hope, buoyed by promise and redemption on "Reveal" and "Set Yourself Free," with their relaxed alternative-rock drive. The gossamer melody of "Sleepy Little" and the whimsical Leo Kottke-like "Hairball" showcase Porter's strength on acoustic guitar. Lyrically, Porter has balanced internal dialogue with the perspectives of fictional narrators on Available Light. On "Me and My Old Man" Porter is clearly paying homage to his car racing father, while "One More September" is sung form the point of view of a young girl who lost her mother on 9-11. "Still Doing Time" seems to blend autobiography with a universal perspective. Ultimately, everything Porter offers us on Available Light is in service to the same vision. "Life is worth living, and it takes guts to live it to the fullest," he explains.

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