A Conversation with Willy Porter (continued)
PM: So when you moved from your band days and started beating the hell out of the acoustic, who were the early influences? Were you into the country blues guys?
WP: I didn't get into them much until more recently, actually.
PM: I see.
WP: I got into some Doc Watson, to begin with.
PM: All right.
WP: Yeah, I was trying to learn how to be a flat picker. And that was an uphill climb for me, and I bailed on it pretty soon. Then I got into more of the Bruce Cockburn school.
PM: What a great player.
WP: Oh, man! And such a great writer. He plays for the song in such an enlightened way.
WP: And I didn't know until a lot later how much he'd studied and everything, and what a great--
PM: Oh, I didn't know that either.
WP: Yeah, he's one of those guitar players that reads.
PM: Oh, really?
WP: Yeah, I've heard about those types.
PM: Oh, I don't even know any of those.
WP: Right. So I got into Cockburn, and then obviously Kottke.
PM: Sure. [see our Leo Kottke interview]
WP: And then, when I was in college, I came across Michael Hedges. And that was the one thing that... I wanted to see if I could expand things with open tunings and stuff, but then, when I saw him, he was already way out of the boat.
PM: Yeah, I mean, he didn't push the envelope, he just snipped it--
WP: He was the envelope.
PM: He snipped the side off the envelope and just flew out the end.
WP: Yeah, exactly, man. So once I saw that, I thought, "You know, the only limitation is your imagination. Just do what you want to do and don't think about it." I got that from him. And even though he was such an educated player and composer and everything, you never got the school side of what he'd done.
PM: No, you never heard the conservatory in his playing.
WP: No, man, never.
PM: You heard the guy with war paint on his face and the pigtails, the wild eyes.
WP: Yeah, the blue warrior supreme.
PM: It was such a tragic end. [Michael Hedges was killed in a car crash in 1997. He was 43.]
Yeah, that's a heartbreaker that just goes on breaking.