s
s
Sections
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone

IN CONCERT
What: Storm Large and Le Bonheur
When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5
Where: Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park.
Admission: $25.
Information: gmc.sonoma.edu, 866-955-6040.

She was bound to be noticed. She’s 6-foot tall, and her last name is Large. Who could miss that? Everyone had something sassy to say about the big, brassy singer. According to her memoir, “Crazy Enough,” adolescence wasn’t much fun.

Born Susan Storm Large, the singer survived and thrived. She embraced her middle and last names, dropped her first name, and learned to sass people right back, in a big way.

In 2006, she took control of her own image, on national television. She made it to the next-to-last round of the TV talent contest series “Rock Star: Supernova,” making a big impression with her version of The Who’s “Pinball Wizard.”

Since then, Storm Large has been in charge. Performing first with her raucous rock band, The Balls, and later with the sophisticated jazz and standards ensemble Pink Martini, she has established herself as a singer who can rock the house or carry a torch song with equal ease.

At 45, Storm has taken her career in a slightly different direction with her cabaret band, Le Bonheur, debuting on tour last year and releasing an album this fall.

Out on the road again this year, she and her trio will perform Sunday, Oct. 5 in the new 250-seat Schroeder Hall at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center.

Storm recently chatted about her music and career by phone from her home in Portland, Ore.

Q: How do you define the musical style of your new act, Le Bonheur?

A: I incorporate originals with standards and unexpected songs that we twist into standards, like songs by Black Sabbath and Tom Waits. We take punk rock songs and make them a little more palatable for a symphony kind of audience, but still have fun and maintain the energy.

Q: What are you aiming for with this music?

A: Really, it’s just about enjoyment and storytelling. That’s the essence of cabaret, taking the audience out of normalcy, making them think or laugh.

Q: Is this a totally different songlist? Are your more sexually explicit songs like your big video hit, “Eight Miles Wide,” and “Ladylike” in this show?

A: No, “Eight Miles Wide” still exists in the hearts and minds of everyone. It’s such a fan favorite. But I’m careful. If it’s a symphony audience, or there’s little kids, I take the temperature of the room. If I’m playing somewhere conservative, I’m careful with my language.

Q: Does that mean you’ve changed? Is this a new Storm?

A: It’s maybe a more responsible Storm. I’m a little less spontaneous with my filthy mouth. I’m a little more measured with all my banter.

Q: Is that a part of your lifelong growth, or more a matter of choosing a specific style for each band? Do you have one person a with Pink Martini, and another with this band?

A: I definitely behave differently onstage with Pink Martini, because that’s Thomas Lauderdale’s band. He is the band leader and we are all individual soloists. I’m absolutely encouraged to share my personality and be myself onstage. But it’s a not a typical band where the singer is the focal point. Pink Martini is an awesome collective of killer musicians, and they all shine in their own way. It’s trained me to control my energy.

Q: What about Le Bonheur?

A: With my band, because it’s such a cabaret situation, it’s about the orator, the person singing and talking. That’s me. The band members do all take solos. I have four awesome guys in my band. They tend to be very funny in the van, and then onstage, they just let me go.

Q: After your show in Rohnert Park, you play a string of other dates in Northern California, including a show Thursday at the City Winery in Napa. What’s after that?

A: I’m basically touring the country — Texas, Kentucky, St. Louis, Chicago, Minneapolis, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, Delaware, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. There’s somewhere else. Where am I going? I can’t remember. Oh yeah, we’re playing Beaver Creek, Colo., in November. Hopefully I can take a little time off then.

Q: So you’re on the road a lot right now.

A: This is a big travel year for me to support my new record, “Le Bonheur.”

Q: You’ve worked with several bands, done a solo stage show and television, and written a book. Was that a deliberate strategy to stretch the boundaries of your career, and avoid narrow limits?

A: Freedom is important to me. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never signed with a major record label. When I started out, I wanted that, but their ideas were too old-school. They would to try to tell me to lose weight, dress nicely (in what other acts were wearing), just call my myself “Stormy” with no last name, stop swearing, not talk so much at shows, lie about my age.

Q: Is that why you decided to just go your own way?

A: Nobody knows how to put lightning in a bottle. People who push paper, and numbers people, try to come up with some algorithm. Commercial America and the world at large know how to manufacture desire and manipulate people to buy stuff. I can’t be fake. If it feels disingenuous, I won’t do it.

You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com. Read his Arts blog at arts.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.

Show Comment