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Taken by Storm

A sassy vixen hits SLO Town

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“Hey, my vagina is eight miles wide, absolutely everyone can come inside, if you’re ever frightened just run and hide, my vagina is eight miles wide.”

Those are the lyrics of “Eight Miles Wide,” and you should put this [internet?] down, load up YouTube, and type in “Storm Large Eight Miles Wide.” Go on. I’ll wait.

How freakin’ awesome is that song and video? Can you imagine how hard it is for me to suppress my desire to ask the enormously talented Storm Large if her vagina is, indeed, eight miles wide?

Instead, I start by asking if her mom is alive. Sounds weird, but Storm (we’re now on a first-name basis) just wrote a book called Crazy Enough, in which she chronicles her years growing up with an institutionalized mother. She also writes about having an orgasm as a five-year-old courtesy of the pool jet. I really can’t help but admire this woman’s candor, but no, her mom died years ago.

“She never saw me sing,” says Storm, who was in the Bay Area with her fiancé having just flown in from a NYC book signing the day before. “She was locked up and we didn’t have any relationship at all, so she died without ever having seen me perform.”

This turns out to be a pretty sad thing, especially since she’d seen her mom for the first time in years not long before she passed, and her mom was doing much better. Then she’s dead, and Storm is left feeling … well, you can read the book.

“I was trying to make sense of all the dumb shit I did and trying to understand my mom’s broken heart, my irreparably broken mom. When I was little, I thought I was making her sick, and I thought I was going to be crazy, too. Writing a book helped answer questions but didn’t give me a whole lot of peace. My mom was broken straight out of the box, but the thing that pissed me off was at the end of her life, she was in assisted living, with a good mix of meds, feeling a little peace for the first time, with some friends and a community—she was changed, centered, happy—but then God kicks the plug out. Oops, just born to suffer in this life. So the book was about trying to make sense of the terrible things that happen.”

From the excerpts I’ve read, it’s a helluvan entertaining read, chronicling Storm’s heroin use, sexually omnivorous past (she’s now in a committed monogamous relationship with a man), discovery of music (it saved her life), and plenty more. It’s candid, casual, and highly entertaining.

“I’m getting a lot of positive, wonderful feedback from people, but what was really important to me was I wanted to make my family happy. I especially wanted my dad to feel safe in my depiction of him, and they all came back and said it’s beautiful, thanking me for changing this person’s name and changing this situation,” she laughs.

So is this the one book she needed to get out of her system, so to speak, or will she write again?

“I’d like to write another book, but I think I’ll try my hand at fiction, telling stories from my perspective, but I definitely needed to get that part out of my head, so it’s done,” she says. “I’d also like to try screenplays as I get older. I mean, I can’t put on skimpy dresses and high heels forever. I have maybe 10 years more.”

Storm also recently tried her hand at acting in the film Rid of Me, which has been making its way around the festival circuit and getting positive feedback.

“Acting’s hard, man. I really have to give it up to actors who want to feel that awful shit willingly. When things fall in my lap, I do my best, listen to director, take tips from my fellow actors, but I wouldn’t want to do it for a living—willingly going out to find that rejection!”

What she does best and is most comfortable doing is getting up in front of an audience and singing. She’s a real raconteur with a flair for the theatrical. Her song delivery and comic timing are both impeccable, and there's something thrilling about seeing a drop-dead gorgeous, six-foot-tall Amazon being so wonderfully self-deprecating. She’s ridiculously versatile—lounge singer, rocker goddess, musical satirist (not to mention author and actor)—so when she comes to SLO Brew on Thursday, Feb. 9 (7:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $14 presale or $16 at the door), what should people expect?

“Is it over 21?” she asks.

“Yes,” I say.

“We’ll that’s good, because I have something of a potty mouth. My show is sort of an interactive cabaret rock show. I sing, telling stories. I’m backed by a band, but there’s no name for the band yet. They used to be called The Balls, but two members are no longer with us, so we need to find a new name. I’m sort of a loyalist that way. We’ve been sort of calling them The Crazy Band, and they’re just awesome ninja players!”

So I’ve got one more question, and it’s not about vagina size, and it’s a little hard to ask, but I go for it: “Even though you wield your sexuality like a cudgel, there’s something about your persona that screams ‘feminist’ to me. Do you define yourself as a feminist?” I ask.

“No, I don’t. I consider myself a humanist,” she says. “A lot of feminists don’t like me because I use words like cunt and bitch, but there are a lot of fights bigger than semantic ones in terms of human rights and women’s rights. I can’t stand women who spell woman with a y [womyn] just to get the ‘man’ out of the word. It’s exclusionary. Some people feel empowered by my overt sexuality, which is basically a defense and coping mechanism of a kid who wants attention. As a performer, I want people to fucking love me, and some women find it empowering to see a woman in control, while for others my sexuality isn’t welcome in society. The truth is, I’m also kind of dude in my sexual expression, very dude-like.”

The dude abides. It’s hard to get across just how sweet and approachable Storm is, but let me put it this way: I felt like I was talking to a friend, and when she hung up, she said, “Bye, hon.” Yeah, color me smitten. I’m pretty excited about this show. Maybe she’ll tell the audience about the “fame boner” she got when she was dressed as a cigar-smoking Jesus and was recognized by a fan. Maybe.

But before we get to next Thursday, here’s what else SLO Brew has in store for you.

On Thursday, Feb. 2, Animal Liberation Orchestra hits the club (7:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $20 presale or $23 at the door). According to their bio, “Their latest adventure, Man of the World (released on Brushfire Records), finds the Cali collective flexing their considerable creative powers to craft their finest album yet. Recorded almost entirely live, the 11-song collection is the sound of four players who have truly found their groove together. This is ALO at their most natural, their most organic and their most pure. Man of the World is the next level for ALO.” Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers will open the show.

On Friday, Feb. 3, check out Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real (7:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $10 presale or $12 at the door). They’ve been road testing new material, having played 250 gigs last year! “We’ve been having a great time on the road and played some of our best shows ever,” says Lukas Nelson, singer-songwriter-guitarist, “We’re really gelling as a band, getting so tight now because we’ve been performing so much and it’s been fun to see the fan base grow.” Local eclectic roots rock miscreants One Time Spaceman open the show.

AUTO PILOTS:  On Feb. 4, check out Santa Barbara’s finest when Tommy and the High Pilots play SLO Brew. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TOMMY & THE HIGH PILOTS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF TOMMY & THE HIGH PILOTS
  • AUTO PILOTS: On Feb. 4, check out Santa Barbara’s finest when Tommy and the High Pilots play SLO Brew.

On Saturday, Feb. 4 (6:30 p.m.; all ages; $9 presale or $12 at the door), witness the triumphant return of local punk juggernauts PK, who came a hair’s breadth away from appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone. Tommy and the High Pilots, Oh My Land, and Heart to Heart will open. This show ought to kick some ass, especially Tommy and the High Pilots, whose new album The Sawhorse Sessions suggests this may be Santa Barbara’s most promising band since Toad the Wet Sprocket.

On Sunday, Feb. 5, check out Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls (7 p.m.; all ages; $10 presale or $12 at the door). Turner and company have been three years on the road, plying their brand of honest and passionate folk-punk. His third album, Poetry of the Deed, is out now. Sharks and Milow will open the show. The UK-based Sharks recently played the entire Vans Warped Tour, and a lot of cool bands like Social Distortion, the Wedding Present, and the Gaslight Anthem are fans of the band. Their new album, No Gods, is out next month. Milow is Belgian singer-songwriter Jonathan Vandenbroeck. Should be a pretty diverse show!

You can have Monday off, but on Tuesday, Feb. 7, Cy Curnin of The Fixx plays SLO Brew (7 p.m.; 21-and-older; $12 presale or $15 at the door). Curnin has been a modern rock hero for 25 years, delivering evocative lyrics and in the past few years dishing up a series of solo albums, most recently Solar Minimum (2009).

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, Where’s The Band? will play (7 p.m.; all ages; $14 presale or $17 at the door). This is a tour featuring solo acoustic performances by the front men of successful rock groups: Dustin Kensrue (of Thrice), Matt Pryor (of The Get Up Kids), Chris Conley (of Saves the Day), and Anthony Raneri (of Bayside). Expect an intimate evening of solo and collaborative performances.

Songwriters still at play

RUSTIC REVELRY:  The Songwriters at Play weekly showcases continue on Feb. 2 with Billy Estrada at The Porch. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BILL ESTRADA
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BILL ESTRADA
  • RUSTIC REVELRY: The Songwriters at Play weekly showcases continue on Feb. 2 with Billy Estrada at The Porch.

Steve Key’s weekly showcases march on, starting on Thursday, Feb. 2, with Billy Estrada, who will be featured with Tony Kirkorian, at The Porch (6:30 p.m.; all ages; tips appreciated). These two inveterate blues players will be laying down the authentic, deep blues.

On Sunday, Feb. 5, head to Sculpterra to see Paso Robles native Diane Arkenstone (1 p.m.; all ages; tips appreciated). Arkenstone is a star in the New Age musical genre: Her 2002 album Jewel in the Sun was No. 11 on Billboard’s New Age charts, and 2005’s The Best of Diane went No. 1 on the New Age radio charts.

BACKPORCH BUBBAS :  See the Water Tower Bucket Boys play The Spot on Feb. 6. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WATER TOWER BUCKET BOYS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WATER TOWER BUCKET BOYS
  • BACKPORCH BUBBAS : See the Water Tower Bucket Boys play The Spot on Feb. 6.

The Water Tower Bucket Boys play The Spot on Monday, Feb 6 (7 p.m.; all ages; $10) with Stuart Mason and Amber Cross opening. This should be an awesome night of Oldternative Americana!

And on Tuesday, Feb. 7, witness the return of Santa Barbara’s Kat Devlin (6:30 p.m.; all ages; tips appreciated) to Kreuzberg. Devlin’s celebrating the release of REM Cycle, her new six-song CD. The show also includes Kat’s friend Owen Plant (of the Sunshine Brothers), Chicago’s Matt Campbell, and local singers Shannon Savage and Katie Edmiston.

KAT DEVLIN MADE ME DO IT :  Fall in love with folk again when Kat Devlin plays Feb. 7 at Kreuzberg. - PHOTO COURTESY OF KAT DEVLIN
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF KAT DEVLIN
  • KAT DEVLIN MADE ME DO IT : Fall in love with folk again when Kat Devlin plays Feb. 7 at Kreuzberg.

More music …

Troubadour J Street Slim (aka—Bob Duffy) and the Leisurnaut (trusty sidekick and awesome percussionist Diane Flores) are playing from 7 to 9 p.m. the first Friday of the month, including Friday, Feb. 3, at A-Town’s newest hotspot, Bru Coffeehouse. “It’s a very cool room for music,” said J Street. “They have a tiny stage, just big enough for two musicians, and the acoustics are such that melodies and lyrics can be projected without the use of amplifiers. The feel is very much at home, with patrons able to visit, study, or really get into the show. Very intimate.”

AMERICANA KING PINS :  On Feb. 4, SLOfolks presents Houston Jones in concert at a new venue for the organization, United Church of Christ (11245 Los Osos Valley Rd., SLO). - PHOTO COURTESY OF HOUSTON JONES
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF HOUSTON JONES
  • AMERICANA KING PINS : On Feb. 4, SLOfolks presents Houston Jones in concert at a new venue for the organization, United Church of Christ (11245 Los Osos Valley Rd., SLO).

On Saturday, Feb. 4, SLOfolks presents in concert Houston Jones at a new venue for the organization, United Church of Christ (11245 Los Osos Valley Rd., SLO). The 7 p.m. concert costs $20 (brownpapertickets.com, at Boo Boo Records, or reserve by calling 544-1323. Houston Jones is a California-based high-octane Americana quintet that performs a mostly original repertoire that ranges from bluegrass and folk to blues and gospel.

Several of Cal Poly’s finest student music ensembles will perform traditional and contemporary chamber music at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, in the Old Mission Church in San Luis Obispo. “A Night at the Mission” features performances by woodwind quintets, saxophone ensembles, a flute choir, a clarinet ensemble, a trumpet ensemble, a trombone choir, a brass choir, a string quartet, and a brass quintet ($8 and $10; 756-2787).

You’re invited to the Z Club on Saturday, Feb. 4, to celebrate the birthday of DJ Onebreeze when Public Defendaz—hands down the best hip-hop act on the Central Coast—is joined by Injustice of 40oz Freaks, Flowbispo, Chiefer Es, and more. There’ll also be a raffle with more than 50 prizes! I’m still eagerly awaiting PubDef’s new album. What’s taking so long, gents? Presale tickets are $8, or pay $9 at the door.

Ninth Street Opus Records recording artist Forrest Day plays Frog and Peach on Saturday, Feb. 4. This septet delivers a crisp blend of jazz, hip-hop, and punk.

TAKE THE TRIP :  Coalesce Bookstore invites you to see Odyssey Trio on Feb. 5. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ODYSSEY TRIO
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF ODYSSEY TRIO
  • TAKE THE TRIP : Coalesce Bookstore invites you to see Odyssey Trio on Feb. 5.

Coalesce Bookstore invites you to see Odyssey Trio on Sunday, Feb. 5, from 1 to 3 p.m. ($10; 772-2880). According to their bio, “For the past six years, Emily Yurcheshen and Gail Brooks have been singing their hearts out together on their original songs, accompanying themselves on piano and guitar. With the addition of longtime local guitarist Hans Langfeldt on bass, they are Odyssey Trio. Their soaring harmonies and insightful lyrics will inspire you with songs of hope, joy, and change.”

Oregon-based reggae band Synrgy plays Frog and Peach on Monday, Feb. 6, as part of their 2012 National Winter Tour. Drawing on elements of roots, ska, rock, funk, and hip-hop, the group creates a unique blend of high-energy reggae.

Buy your tickets for the Avila Beach Blues Festival!

Tickets are now on sale at all Vallitix outlets for the 2012 Avila Beach Blues Festival scheduled for Sunday, May 27. Now in its 19th year, the popular event features another stellar line-up this year: The Doobie Brothers, Tower of Power, and the Taj Mahal Trio. ∆

Keep up with Glen Starkey via twitter at twitter.com/glenstarkey, friend him at Myspace.com/glenstarkey, or contact him at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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