American Story Tellers

American Story Tellers is devoted to the Great American Tunesmiths of the last 30 years, who are still making Great music in their local areas. From Maine to California, there are Unbelievably talented Songwriter/Performers who are Stars in their home states, but unknown in the rest of America. Their music deserves to be heard by music fans everywhere. We hope to be a conduit for these Unsung Heroes of American Song Craft.

Friday, September 29, 2006

In Wisconsin, There is no bigger talent than Willy Porter. Singer, Song Writer and Guitarist extraordinaire.

It's been a few miles across America, Canada, the UK and Europe since Willy Porter released his debut CD, "The Trees Have Soul" in 1990. Back then he traveled in his Volkswagen selling discs out of the trunk, mesmerizing audiences with his guitar chops and original tunes. In 1994, he released his second independent CD entitled, "Dog Eared Dream." The album marked Porter's artistic growth from his constant touring and a more developed songwriting perspective. The song "Angry Words" became a top-10 staple on Triple AAA radio stations around the country. This radio success established Porter as a nationally recognized artist, and brought the inevitable major label bidding war to a boil. "Dog Eared Dream" highlighted his pop songwriting sensibility and also his acoustic guitar work that would grow into a style uniquely his own — a mixture of Leo Kottke, Michael Hedges, Richard Thompson and Lindsey Buckingham. He would ultimately sign with Private Music/BMG in 1995. European and American tours with Rickie Lee Jones, Tori Amos and The Cranberries followed over the next year and a half. Private Music went super nova in 1997, and Porter was left in contractual limbo with BMG. Porter regained momentum in 1999 when he signed with San Francisco-based Six Degrees Records and released the folk-pop gem, "Falling Forward." Produced by Grammy winner Neil Dorfsman (Dire Straits, Sting), "Falling Forward" contained the radio friendly tracks "Mystery" & "Cut the Rope." National tours commenced with legendary artists Paul Simon, Sting, Jeff Beck and Jethro Tull.

In 2002, Porter brought seemingly disparate elements together on his eponymous self-titled disc, "Willy Porter." The album combined his fiery acoustic guitar work with career defining songwriting and vocal work — equal parts rock muscle, and folk-based intimacy. "Willy Porter" showed his growing vocal talents as he sidestepped through various character songs with power and detailed subtlety. In 2003, the solo live album "High Wire Live" would further forge Porters' relationship with his growing audience. It clearly showcased his mastery of the acoustic guitar in his most comfortable environment — his live show. He continued to stretch over the next couple of years morphing performance art, live audio looping, and improvisational sketch comedy into his solo whistle stops. Each tour date became a unique event, a musical experience much greater than just a review of past, present and future recorded work.

Porters' combined experience at both major and independent record labels ultimately fueled the drive to release a wider variety of music on a more frequent basis, and led Porter to start his own imprint, Weasel Records in December 2005. His latest release, "Available Light" (Ryko Distribution), features Porter at the peak of his powers as a guitarist, singer, songwriter & recording artist. Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, recently described Porter's musicianship this way: "Willy Porter's music demonstrates admirably that the technical excellence of his guitar-playing will never overwhelm the essence of the song itself. In perfect symbiosis, the disciplines of performance and songwriting combine together to create the unique work for which he is admired by professional peers and audiences alike. Oh — and a damn fine singer too. Thank goodness he doesn't play the flute." Porter, 41, lives in Milwaukee, WI and is married with two children.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In Virginia Robbin Thompson is the man. He is a wonderful Tunesmith and performer. Robbin should be a household name all over America like his is in his adopted home of Virginia.

Robbin Thompson has been a Richmond resident since 1969. He is the Vice president and co-founder of In Your Ear Music and Recording Corp. A company that composes and produces music for commercials and films.

His musical career spans over 30 yrs and still counting.

He shared lead vocals with Bruce Springsteen in the band Steel Mill, won The American Song Festival twice and so far has recorded ten albums. Thompson along with friend Steve Bassett authored The song Sweet Virginia Breeze which is considered by many to be the unofficial state song of Virginia. He has also written and recorded songs with EAGLES bassist Timothy B. Schmit.

Thompson has shared the stage with many recording artists; Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Bruce Springsteen, and Bruce Hornsby are to name just a few.

In 1994, Thompson along with partner and fellow composer Carlos Chafin, scored a musical based on the Stephen Crane novel The Red Badge of Courage. Written and directed by Randy Strawderman, "Red Badge" is hopefully on it's way to Broadway.

His film scoring credits include the title song to the cult classic GLEAMING THE CUBE and was the co-writer and vocalist on the song "I WON'T QUIT" in the film THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS starring CUBA GOODING JR. and BEYONCE'.

Due to Robbins' involvement with Bruce Springsteen he is proud to have a song on the new EMI/CAPITOL release entitled ONE STEP UP/TWO STEPS BACK.- The Songs of Bruce Springsteen. This two cd set includes artists such as David Bowie, John Hiatt, Ritchie Havens, Ben E. King, The Smithereens, The Bodeans and others.

OUT ON THE CHESAPEAKE, was released in October of 1998. It features songs that Thompson wrote while sailing his boat on the Chesapeake Bay. The coverart of this cd is an original painting by artist JOHN BARBER done especially for this release.

UNITED WE STAND another Capitol Records release to aid the victims of 9/11 includes Thompsons song, WOULDN'T WANNA BE YOU as the single for the album. Artists included on the release were John Lennon, The Beachboys, Woody Guthrie, and others.

ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE BLUES, his latest release, include performances by EAGLES Bassist Timothy B. Schmit and Dave Matthews Band keyboardist Butch Taylor. It also includes a previously unreleased Springsteen song called TRAIN SONG.

THE VINYL YEARS is a compilation cd of songs previously on LP'S from 1976 to 1985.

After many years of touring Thompson now reserves much of his spare time for his family and his second love, sailing the Chesapeake Bay. His concert schedule is limited mostly to concerts he knows "will be enjoyable."

Welcome to American Story Tellers. Check back often for America's Great Songwiter/Performers.