Pacific Northwest favorite Storm Large will take the stage on Friday, Dec. 1, at 8pm at the Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center (31510 Pete von Reichbauer Way S.)
Known as a vocalist for Pink Martini, Large and her new band, Le Bonheur, will deliver a concert rolling with their interpretations of the American Songbook.
Large cartwheeled out of her checkered past across a thousand punk rock stages and into her infamous stint on the CBS rock ‘n’ roll reality series ‘Rock Star: Supernova.’ From there, she went on to tour the world, singing in 17 different languages, as vocalist for the joyful little pop orchestra Pink Martini.
Large has performed nationally from Carnegie Hall in New York to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Large is also an actor, playwright and author. Her award-winning one-woman show, ‘Crazy Enough,’ broke every box office record at Portland Center Stage in 2010. In 2012, she detailed her wild life in a memoir of the same title published by Simon and Schuster.
NPR’s Ari Shapiro, co-host of ‘All Things Considered’ on occasion, also performs with Large and Pink Martini on occasion and I had a chance to chat with her in-person following Shapiro’s one-man show, ‘Homeward,’ this past weekend in Portland, Oregon.
MK Scott: Storm, hello. Welcome. I wanted to find out – you’re going to be performing at the Federal Way Performing Arts & Event Center on Friday, December 1st. Tell us a little bit about what type of repertoire you’ll be performing.
Storm Large: Well, we’re officially kicking off the holiday season this coming week, so I tend to put some Christmas songs and holiday songs in the repertoire this time of year. And, when I say Christmas and holiday, they aren’t always traditionally Christmas or holiday. Like I consider holiday music to be whatever is exuberant, joyful. Like Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ is kind of a Christmas song, or Alphaville’s ‘Forever Young’ I consider that to be a Christmas song also. So there may be some elements of that.
MK: Since you’ve been in Portland, have you been influenced by a lot of the local talent here such as, well, there’s Valerie Day from Nu Shooz. There’s also Rindy Ross from Quarterflash. And then, also, we just recently, last year, we met up with Bill Wadhams from Automotion.
Storm: I performed with Bill. He’s awesome. No, I was never influenced by any artists here. I got here and just kind of got to work right away. I didn’t even get to see any musicians except Pink Martini, and I didn’t get to see Pink Martini until I was in the band. So I never, the only bands I ever saw were, there’s a Hip-Hop artist named Mike Crenshaw, who is amazing. I think you get influenced by pretty much life, and it doesn’t have to be bands, it doesn’t have to be, you know, I mean, you have limitations of your voice and what kind of style of music you feel most, I was actually with Sophie Von Trappe today, we were chatting about things that feel genuine and how the thing that feels the most real to you is often times not necessarily commercially viable, but I’ve always been a shitty liar. So I can’t – even if somebody, even if I saw a band that really influenced me, that made me feel like, wow, I would love to be able to do that, if it wasn’t naturally my style it would feel really ingenuine and it would, I would never sell that to anybody. No one would believe it. You know what I mean? Does that make sense? Yeah. I love doing what I do. It’s eclectic. It’s kind of a niche personality type of thing. But I know it’s mine. And I feel very honest when I perform in that way. It’s not, you know, I don’t have teeny bopper fans. I don’t fill stadiums, but I get to play this beautiful performing arts center with my band telling ridiculous jokes and talking about Christmas and singing rock and roll songs pretending they’re Christmas songs. So it’s kind of fun.
MK: Future plans? Do you plan on doing any more TV work? Movies?
Storm: I’m curious and interested in doing film. I don’t think, I don’t have anything on the horizon in film, but I do have some theater projects on the horizon performing and possibly writing. I enjoy writing for other people. It takes the pressure off me.
MK: I remember you were in Cabaret over at the Portland Center Stage.
Storm: Mm-hmm. And I wrote a one-woman show also for the Portland Center Stage. That was really, hugely successful.
MK: Yes. I do remember that. Yes.
Storm: Mm-hmm. But that was my foray into it and I really enjoyed it. So I definitely, you know, I think next year I’m going to be engaged in a couple of projects like that.
MK: I always ask this. In this current political climate right now, what is your theory about what’s going on and how can we resolve that?
Storm: I feel that things have been – information has been turned into entertainment. And the news cycle has to be histrionic and intense in order to maintain viewership. And it isn’t always necessarily propaganda, but it is, you know, I mean, there is definitely huge swaths of people trying to, you know, keep a certain demographic, giving them red meat, so to say, so to speak. But things have become like bumper sticker symbol. And it seems that no one has, that people are not encouraged to have, any kind of complexity and thought. They’re encouraged to pick a side and pick up a rock, and a stick and torches, and taunt and go after the side that is not theirs. And there’s no nuance, there’s no conversation, there’s no discourse. And I’m saying ‘there is no,’ of course, there is, but not in the streets, and not what we are seeing. I mean, for example, they’re saying like ANTIFA is a terrorist element, but it’s anti-fascist. That means all of my grandparents were terrorists, but they were fighting Nazis. So things are turned into misnomers and lies; and things become catch phrases until they become part of your mitochondria, until they become part of this every day speech; that it doesn’t, that the words don’t even make sense anymore, but they are words tattooed inside your tongue. And for whatever reason it makes everybody feel safe. So, at the end of the day, every human being wants to belong. Wants to know where they are in the world. Wants to be loved, wants to be accepted, wants to matter. Every life wants to matter. And – but at the same time there are forces that profit from fear, and profit from manipulating that desire and make it seem like that is being threatened. And so like Ari [Shapiro] said in his show, these things go in cycles, and people become, and it’s not exclusive to America, it’s exclusive to humans. It’s exclusive to fucking humans. And I think that maybe some primate war-type shit, like this, but we are really good at getting freaked out and hurting a lot of people. And I think that’s where we are in history at this tipping point right now. We’re on the edge of some scary shit. And scary shit is already happening. It won’t burst and pop off a nuclear disaster, or you know, any kind of massive catastrophe like that. But it’s a tough time to be a human.
MK: My burning question is: In one word can you describe Ari Shapiro?
Storm: Perfect. Ari Shapiro is perfect. And it’s only one word, but the descriptors around perfect are so annoying because he is so fucking perfect. He’s brilliant, kind, curious. His handwriting is insane. He wrote lyrics from, I forgot, some French song. And he said, I’ll go get the lyrics for you. He comes back with a piece of paper. And I said, ‘You are so gay; look at that font you picked.’ And he said, ‘That’s my handwriting.’ IT looked like a computer-generated curly, swirly perfect. So I believe Ari Shapiro is a perfect human. He should be in a time capsule and everyone should scrape skin cells off him and make more because he’s so goddamn awesome.
MK: Thank you.
< Storm Large and Le Bonheur will be appearing on Friday, December 1st at 8pm at Federal Way Performing Arts and Events Center, 31510 Pete von Reichbauer Way S.
Tickets for Storm Large range from $23 to $63 and can be purchased online at fwpaec.org, by calling 253-835-7010 or by visiting the PAEC’s Patron Services office, from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.