Musician shares story of how guitars have shaped his music
This is a story about a boy and his guitar.
One of my oldest friends and a real musician's musician, Cory Porter stopped in "Studio Blanket/Tent Fort" with his trusty "G.D. Porter 420" guitar for this week's edition of "Today's Best Soundemonium ... for now!" with Steve Carr, a.k.a. Steve-O, and the columnist. He shared the story of the guitar or more specifically, guitars that have shaped the musician. It was his story.
"Music has always been a part of my life," Porter said. "My father (Gary Daryl Porter) played drums in local bands when I was young. He played guitar as well. It was mostly country then, but some rock was around the house, like Chuck Berry and The Beatles."
Life with his father included learning to play his first "bits of guitar" on dad's Gretsch small-body acoustic guitar "I don't know the year it was made, but I think it was older than me."
As young housemates in Duncan, Porter and that Gretsch were a staple of my life. Between his learning songs and accenting conversations with quick six-string asides, including bits of Van Halen's "Drop Dead Legs," I learned that guitar's voice as surely as my daughter's.
The guitar was joined by an old Kramer electric guitar armed with the infamous original Floyd Rose locking tremolo bridge. Amazing when it functioned, the early prototype was also a nightmare for tuning and restringing. With it, Porter played in a few local rock bands that amounted "to nothing but a drunken time," he said. With the Gretsch, he became more of a "musician" and spent time playing with a regionally well-known folk-Americana act, the late Michael and Nancy Hyde and their group, Distant Thunder. The Hydes toured throughout Texas and earned a name. In Duncan, they earned the title of being some of the biggest mentors to aspiring artists. They enabled a generation of Stephens County music enthusiasts' sound addictions.
An overseas job allowed Porter to earn enough to install a home recording studio at his old Duncan home, known as Stein Mont. While there, his "guitarmy" swelled with new additions. But the Kramer and, more importantly, the Gretsch remained. The old acoustic remained within arm's reach from his post behind the console or on the living room couch. Good music flowed from that old home's walls.
"After some experiments in recording music, I fell in love with the process of recording and, dare I say 'producing,' other people's music," Porter said. "I did some work with a few local red dirt as well as a metal band from Oklahoma, Mark of the Sage (featuring Duncan's Allen Little on vocals)."
Life sent Porter Oklahoma City way for a while. While there, the majority of his "guitarsenal" including the trusty Gretsch was stolen while he was overseas for work. While on a quest to find his instruments, the road led to Honest Ron's Guitars in Oklahoma City. Along with forging a friendship that led to finding the majority of his instruments and the creation of some new one-of-a-kinds, Ron Lira offered a bright spot for Porter regarding his dad's old guitar. A widely known and well-respected luthier and savior of many a damaged guitar, Lira had already worked on the Gretsch before the theft and still had many of the specs to work from. In early April, a clone of the original instrument returned to Porter's hands.
"This guitar took about two years for Ron Lira to finish; it's a replica of the one I learned to play on," Porter said. "Ron had done the rebuild on the original guitar, so he knew what it was about."
The only cosmetic difference between the original and the reconstruction is the black border around the guitar's body replacing the original white. When I hear Porter play, it offers tones reminiscent of my late teens. It sounds and feels like home to him.
"This one has that same hard-to-play neck," Porter said. "It feels exactly the same and I've enjoyed having it. It's started me playing the instrument again."
From his home near Lake Lawtonka, Porter has begun working out melodies and building up steam to prepare for performing at some local open mic nights and other opportunities in the near future. If you tuned in to the show, you heard the guitar's luster as he tackled Tom Waits' "Better Off Without a Wife."
With his trusty wooden friend in hand, he's found he's better off making music.
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It takes a while, but prodigals tend to return home, often at just the right time. An Elgin girl who has been a favorite of local stages is marking her return to her stomping grounds with a Sunday afternoon show.
Amanda Cunningham is returning to the Medicine Park Tavern for a 2-5 p.m. performance Sunday. Calling herself "a girl from Oklahoma," she's a lot more than that. She earned Red Dirt Female Vocalist of the Year honors during her time in Tulsa and since moving to Oklahoma City has earned Best Singer/Songwriter honors at the Woody Awards. She said she's ready for a return to her home away from home. It will start a busy summer for the artist.
"It's been three years since I last played the Park Tavern," Cunningham said. "I'm playing several shows in Oklahoma City, Yukon, and Stillwater over the summer and I'm working on a new record to be out next year and will be playing a lot of new songs."
Following Sunday's show, Cunningham is booked for a June 1 show at JJ's Alley Bricktown Pub and a June 16 show at Bricktown Brewery, both in Oklahoma City.
You can see schedules and listen to music at: www.reverbnation.com/amandacunningham; or keep up at: facebook.com/amandacunninghammusic.
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Everybody can kick up their heels knowing they made a difference with a great cause last weekend.
The Heels for Healing: Drag for a Cause event at the Railhead Saloon brought a new type of entertainment to the legendary Southwest Oklahoma heavy metal home. Featuring local and Oklahoma City's best queens, there was also an acoustic interlude by Rafael Montez, who modified an original number from his group, The Acoustic Yardsale: nRafael Montez "Derby Dude" https://youtu.be/3Ft18dMQLLM.
Organizer Robert Taylor Kennedy celebrated his birthday by raising money for a great cause, and the local audience bought in and did its part. "We made $2,026 to donate to the Ronald McDonald house," Kennedy said.
You can still donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/ heals-for-healing-drag-fora-cause.
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I wanted to update you on the schedule for Saturday's Armed Forces Day Music Festival and Red Dirt BBQ at Elmer Thomas Park.
Beginning at 11 a.m., the event will include a barbecue competition and a car show hosted by Nokturnal Car Club. Numerous food, merchandise and information vendors, as well as military vehicles, will be on display. The free event will also include children and family activities and is free and open to the public.
The day's music includes the Allen Biffle Band, Just Strangers, Chad Todd Band, Red Dirt Rising, Fort Sill's 77th Army Band, Casey Abbe Band, The Suede Panther and headline act Mike McClure Band. The crew from the Discovery Channel show "Misfit Garage" Tom Smith, Kevin Clark, John Klump and Josh Paris will also be on hand. The day closes with a fantastic fireworks show.
I should have some photos and video from the event in next week's edition. Check the website for updates: www.AFDMF.com.
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Songs begin with poetry so this next event fits perfectly into the column's scope. Not Yo Mama's Alternative Art Presents Poetry Slam! Featuring Melissa May-Dunn will allow spoken word artists and fans a great opportunity.
From 7-9 p.m. May 30, the Percolator Coffeehouse, 605 SW E, will feature an evening's worth of poetry and performance. May-Dunn is a Norman-based writer and youth advocate, as well as accomplished slam poet. She has been a multi-time competitor at both the Individual World Poetry Slam and the Women of the World Poetry Slam and was the Slam Master of the Red Dirt Poetry Slam.
This is not a competitive event. There's no entry fee if you want to participate, and admission is free. Sign-up begins at 6:45 p.m.
The series is made possible by the sponsorship of Carlos Los Irizarry of The Percolator Coffeehouse Lounge and his support of the local arts community.
And don't forget that every Thursday night from 7-9 p.m. is Open Mic with Big Pete Piehnik. It's a perfect setting for burgeoning musicians to test out their talents.
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With Cory Porter joining the fun in "Studio Blanket/Tent Fort" for this week's edition of "Today's Best Soundemonium ... for now!" with Steve Carr, a.k.a. Steve-O, and yours truly, discussion of breaking news and passing stars turned, as always, to chuckles. If you missed it the first time, here's video of a Tom Waits cover: nCory Porter "Better Off Without A Wife" https://youtu.be/N1QHuZiIwVY.
Jokey McJokerson pitched a prelude and here's the punch line:
"A small medium at large."
Turn your radio to Magic 95.3 FM Radio around 4:30 p.m. each Thursday or stream the half-hour show online: http://s1.phx.icastcenter.com/start/kmgz953/, on the Apple or Android apps or on the TuneIn app, or: http://www.kmgz.com/.
Visit, "like" and follow our Facebook page. The inaugural episode podcast (with "enhanced features") remains with more to come: https://www.facebook.com/steveoandthescribe/. An extra track from Thursday featuring Porter and the jock, "4th of July" will be posted soon.
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Use the online features every Friday at swoknews.com and click on any of the video links. Bookmark the column's YouTube channel and visit the library of exclusive videos from the column's archive featuring some of the best past local (and visiting) talent that's graced Southwest Oklahoma's stages. More added often:
Soundemonium Musaic Lawton music archive homepage: Scott Rains https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPw__GedGPOUD-wROFcuZ8w.