Portland songstress Storm Large & Le Bonheur performs in Beaver Creek Sunday
If you go ...
What: Storm Large performs as last show in Underground Sound series.
Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek.
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
More information: Visit http://www.vilarpac.org.
Storm Large is a 6-foot tall, blond contradiction. Watch her perform some of the American songbook classics on her latest album, and she looks and sounds, well, kind of sweet and classy. Chat with her on the phone and you see why back in the ’90s she fronted a band called Storm and Her Dirty Mouth. If you’ve lived here long enough, and frequented venues that are long gone, then you might have seen her a few decades back when she played the mountain town circuit, which brought her through Vail, Large said. More recently, she played in Aspen in 2013 with pop orchestra Pink Martini, a band in which she tours with, sharing the duties of lead singer.
Large performs with her band, Le Bonheur, in Beaver Creek on Sunday, for the final concert in the Underground Sound series.
“We feel very fortunate to be a part of this new and very limited tour,” said Vilar Center Executive Director Kris Sabel. “From my perspective Storm Large lives up to her name as she seems to be larger than life in many aspects, including her talent, her voice, her look and her style. I am very excited to be able to include her on the Underground Sound series and to hopefully have our community fall in love with her.”
Back to Large’s mouth. To say that there are some very intentional sexual innuendos going on with Large is like saying the political tide rolled in a bit pink Tuesday.
After moving to Portland in 2002, Large formed the band Storm and The Balls.
“I thought the Balls was the best band name ever,” Large said. “I started to affectionately call them The Boners.”
She was informed it was inappropriate to call her backing band The Boners, however.
“I said ‘all right, all right, I’ll figure something out,’” said Large, who then came up with the band name “Le Bonheur,” (also the name of their new album) while touring in Europe with Pink Martini.
“I learned a little French to get by on the street in Paris and also learned a bunch of French music,” she said. “I learned that le bonheur means happiness … so it’s a quadruple entendre. I’m very happy about that.”
FROM CLUBS TO CABARET
As a musician, an actor, a playwright and an author, Large is a bit of a renaissance woman. She sang in clubs in San Francisco in the ‘90s; in 2006 she was a finalist on the CBS show “Rock Star: Supernova.” In 2007, she took a career departure and starred in Portland Center Stage’s production of “Cabaret with Wade McCollum.” Her next endeavor, the autobiographical musical memoir, “Crazy Enough,” played to packed houses in 2009 during its unprecedented 21-week sold-out run in Portland. She went on to perform a cabaret version of the show to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Adelaide Festival in Australia, and Joe’s Pub in New York. Her memoir, “Crazy Enough,” was released by Simon and Schuster in 2012, named Oprah’s Book of the Week and awarded the 2013 Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction.
Large made her debut as guest vocalist with the band Pink Martini in 2011, singing four sold-out concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. She continues to perform with the band, touring nationally and internationally, and she was featured on their CD, “Get Happy.” Large acted in “Rid of Me,” a film by Portlander James Westby, and in November and December of 2010, she starred in Jerry Zak’s production of “Harps and Angels, a musical featuring the work of Randy Newman. Over the course of the next few months she’ll tour with Pink Martini, head to New York to work on a play and then tour some on the West Coast in support of “Le Bonheur,” she said.
FROM COLE PORTER TO BLACK SABBATH
The songs on “Le Bonheur,” Large’s first release on Heinz Records, are certainly eclectic, which she agrees is indicative of her own scattered taste in music. American songbook classics such as Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and Richard Rodgers’ “The Lady is a Tramp” shimmy up next to Black Sabbath’s “N.I.B.” and Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love.” She shifts seamlessly between French and English during Jacques Brel’s famous heartbreaker “Ne me quitte pas” and adds honeyed harmonies on “Unchained Melody,” then unleashes a brassy rendition of Cole Porter’s “It’s All Right With Me.” There are two original tunes penned by Large — “A Woman’s Heart” and “Stand up for Me” — both of which highlight her smoky tones.
“My goal was to make something really beautiful to match the level of playing with a symphony and bring up the level of recording and instrumentation and just the beauty that comes with playing with symphonic players. I captured it without minimizing my own voice and my own interpretations of classic standards and rock ‘n’ roll and punk rock.
“I’m really happy with the record,” she continued. “It’s both mature and immature enough to represent me fully where I am right now, professionally and personally.”
If you haven’t heard Large, then she promises you can expect good things Sunday night.
“For people who don’t know me, who are virgins, I usually just create an atmosphere of comfort, casualness and songs,” she said. “In music there’s an embedded sense of separateness: Someone on stage is presenting to people in seats. I don’t like that. I like being more accessible to the audience and addressing them directly. It’s more fun for me. Even if I’m doing the same show every night, there’s always a different energy depending on who is in the audience. I get everyone’s guard down, and I poke them where it’s soft. Not in a mean way, in sort of a tickle way.”