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(Photo: Jeff Sherman)

Porter and band shine at The Pabst

Willy Porter, flanked by his touring band -- Dave Adler (keyboards), Dave Schoepke (drums and percussion) and Steve Kleiber (bass) -- brought his tunes, passion, light and Milwaukee pride to The Pabst Theater Friday night.  

I’ve seen Porter probably 15 to 20 times, and I’m always impressed by his energy, improvisational nature and flat-out musical ability.  All three shined on Friday night.  

It’s hard to lose your roots, especially when they are based in Milwaukee, as Porter’s are.  That’s another reason to like him.  His songs are real, personal and through them you just feel that "Milwaukee feeling." “Loose Gravel,” off his new release “Available Light,” is a tribute to No. 15 Cecil Cooper of the 1982 almost-champions Milwaukee Brewers.  I’ll admit that after his intro of the song, upon the crowd chants of “Coop, Coop” I got goose bumps.  I even turned to my wife and said, “I have to find my Cecil Cooper scrapbook at my parents’ house.”  

Porter opened the show with four new tunes (“Sleepy Little,” “Available Light,” his amazing and pensive collaboration with Paul Cebar “Still Doing Time” and the above mentioned “Loose Gravel.”)  The crowd of mainly 30- and 40-somethings was very appreciative, well behaved and some were a bit awe-struck by the sounds and emotion coming from the band.  Porter’s always at home on the stage and with his wife and mom in the crowd, without mentioning it, you could tell the night was a simple tribute to his late father.  

The band rocked, I must say, especially Adler, who shoeless and all, jammed the keyboards in a nearly giddy style that took the normally rocking “Rita,” into a full-blown jam session.  

Gracious as always, Porter thanked Milwaukee, the crowd, The Pabst staff and even the local media for its support.  He and his band then finished the first set with “the tune that allowed him to tour,” “Angry Words.”  

The encore completed the night in fitting style.  “Where are my keys?” a rousing instrumental led into a Porter improv tune using the audience-contributed words “ginger snap” and “alcohol.”  It’s a signature of many of Porter’s shows, and his improv ability makes you appreciate his style and abilities even more.  The song was funny, topical and witty. The on-the-fly tune was the perfect ending to a great evening of Willy Porter and his band at The Pabst.  

Talkbacks

OMCreader | Oct. 19, 2006 at 11:08 a.m. (report)

Steve said: Ditto. Great show. The new tunes were awesome. $15 bucks at the Pabst, not a better deal around. Buy the new CD.

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OMCreader | Oct. 14, 2006 at 1:49 p.m. (report)

Dan said: I hadn't seen Willy live in some time. Wow! He has become even better, certainly now a first class musician. On some of those jams they went and explored the line between music and noise to great effect. the band was tight and in the groove all night. Only $15 for a seat. Quite the deal.

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