By DJ Dave Hoffenberg
Friday, Oct. 15 —KILLINGTON — You are not going to want to miss Jenny Porter’s album release party at the Pickle Barrel nightclub at 8 p.m. This is her first ever album and it’s a good one. You’ll need proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test within 72 hours along with proper age identification to get entry into the club. This is a 21+ show and tickets are only $5. The album will drop on iTunes and Spotify on Friday as well. Thursday is Jenny’s 30th birthday so it’s like a special birthday present to her.
The album is nine tracks and titled “Into The Waves.” Porter is on guitar/vocals along with Tony Lee Thomas on guitar/bass, Krishna Guthrie on drums, Bobby Maguire on fiddle and Jeff Poremski on lead guitar. Porter’s friend Alex Shier sings on track 1, which is an a cappella tune, and her father Jeb Porter plays the mandolin on track 3. The album was recorded at Bullfrog Audio Productions by Jeremiah Bindrum, produced and mixed by Tony Lee Thomas, mastered by Jeff Lipton and Maria Rice at Peerless Mastering, and the album photos are by Dana Golterman. Porter said, “It’s like all my friends from the past 10 years of playing, people who I’m most inspired by, all got to play on my album, so I felt really lucky about that. It was really important to have people who knew me well, to be playing on it.”
I had the chance to preview the album and thoroughly enjoyed it all but picked a few favorites. Track 3, “South Carolina,” is a really upbeat, feel-good type of song. Porter’s vocals shine through. Track 5, “Horizon,” starts with Porter singing a cappella for the first minute. This song really shows her sweet voice. When the instruments come in, it fills the sound nicely. What I really like are the harmonies, which sound like Porter harmonizing with herself. If I had to pick one favorite, it’s track 6, “Shave My Legs.” It’s a funky sound with strong vocals. There’s a line, “When the dance floor is empty,” but I can’t imagine the floor being empty for this banging tune. Track 9, “Willow Tree,” is a good way to end the album. It’s a mellow song with Porter singing and has those great harmonies I spoke of earlier. Bobby’s fiddle compliments the song well. It may be mellow but it’s powerful.
For the Pickle Barrel show, Porter will play through the album with Thomas on bass, Maguire on fiddle and Ty McCarthy on cajon. Her father will sit in on “South Carolina,” playing mandolin. Porter said, “He plays on the album and it was really cool to have him be a part of that.” This album is 10 years in the making with one of the songs being 10 years old and the last song about a year old. Porter said, “This album is like a synopsis of my 20s. The album is all over the map. There’s songs about friendship and love. There’s some really emotional tunes and there’s some that could be considered feminist songs. I’m really influenced by The Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco, so it’s kind of in that style of folky, singer-songwriter stuff.”
Most of these songs were co-written with Tony Lee Thomas. Porter would come to him with an outline of chord progressions and her ideas for the lyrics. The two of them would fine tune it and come up with the chord progressions in a more interesting way. Track 4, “The Box,” is the only song on the album completely written by Porter. She said, “Tony insisted there be one song I completely wrote.” Thomas has one he wrote as well, and that’s “Willow Tree.” Porter said, “I’m just lucky enough to get to sing it because I think it’s a really beautiful poem.”
Porter tried to switch up the genres for each song. She said, “There’s a similar vein that runs through all the songs but they all have a different feel. I was really lucky to have Tony help me write the tunes because he knows me so well. I’m a very emotional person so I really wanted the music to convey the words. I felt Tony brought to life what the lyrics are trying to say. It’s kind of like letting your diary out to the world.”
Porter wanted to thank a few people who helped her these past 10 years on her musical journey through life. Thomas, Maguire and Guthrie have been her best friends. She said, “Having Tony help write it was really important and felt really special. He’s my hero and without him, I wouldn’t have an album. He’s been my mentor these past 10 years and took me under his wing. I wanted to have Bobby and Krishna on it, not just because they’re good, because they’ve been a part of my family and part of the journey that got us to where I am. I had to have Jeff Poremski because he’s a genius. I love Jeff.”
If you miss this show, you can see Porter at Jax every Sunday at 8 p.m. She wanted to thank Chris Karr, and said, “I feel really lucky to work for him and he’s been very helpful in helping my career. It’s nice that he’s opening the doors early, on an off-weekend in October, for my album release. I feel that’s above and beyond what just some guy who books me would do. I really feel he’s in my corner.”
Porter really likes to perform, and I like watching her because you can see that’s she’s really enjoying herself up on that stage. To me, she’s like the Stace Maz of musicians. She spoke about recording this album and said, “I’m excited for people to get to know a deeper side of myself. It’s exciting to have my own music. I like playing covers but it’s great to have my own voice out there.” She’s pretty shy in real life but lets loose on the stage by smiling, dancing and getting into it. She added, “I feel this shows a little more depth to Jenny Porter. It’s scary because it’s way easier when people don’t know the insides but it’s exciting to share with the world other parts of myself.”
She really loved the writing process with Thomas. “When something came together, I was like, ‘That’s exactly what I meant,’ and, ‘Ooh, that’s exactly how I was supposed to feel. Yes, perfect.’ That was a really fun part.”
A lot of people knew that Porter was working on this album and have been asking her about its release, so she would like to thank the people in Killington, other parts of Vermont and Massachusetts, and family and friends for all the support she’s received.