WILLY PORTER + RAINING JANE @ THE GRAMMY MUSEUM

June 20th, 2009 |

Raining Jane, made up of four unique female artists, created rooftop rain pattering lullabys at The Grammy Museum on Wednesday night, opening for and performing with funky folk acoustic singer Willy Porter. The two lead singers of Raining Jane precisely harmonized their voices and emotionally moved their bodies with a slue of guitars, a cello, a sitar, and delicately beaded percussion instruments. The percussionist/singer, hand wrists ankles draped in her instruments, whistled from her seat, a wooden box. Willy Porter, alone on stage for a few numbers, discussed with the audience everything from guzzling beers with Paul Simon and his enjoyment of naked women, to cleaning the gutters of a very tall house. It was as if we were all sitting and listening at the local bar, over sizey sips of brown liquor. He talked and sang of the profane, the mundane, and his fingers moved so fast on his strings, building a truly impressive layered illusion of multiple people performing. The title song off of his new album, How To Rob A Bank, had the audience in laughter and applause.

Twang was out, sitar guitar blues were in, lyrics dangled the political next to the magical, and the storytelling collaborative performance was never without a sense of humor, affection and distinct talent. Raining Jane and Willy alike sang of second chances and loss, paper cuts and paper planes, pin balls, war and miracles. I had brief thoughts of Gillian Welch, Regina Spektor, Jethro Tull, Allison Kraus, The Triplets of Belleville, or a barbershop quartet, but nothing quite fit. It felt more like flowers tapping their petals on a tin wall, feminine feet splashing in an ice cube mountain spring, bees buzzing around fresh honey, a crisp trot through a bright meadow, a conversation in a nest on the moon, or a lover squeezing your head between their hands and sing-saying into your eyes, “You and me, this could be, miraculous.”

Beth McNamara