Writer // Janelle Morrison Photography // Laura Domela – All Rights Reserved
Storm Large: musician, actor, playwright, author is coming to Carmel. Storm will perform at the Palladium on Friday, February 16, 2018. Storm and her band Le Bonheur astound audiences with their electrifying take on jazz and Broadway standards, rock-goddess anthems and gorgeous original tunes. Their album Le Bonheur was called “compelling, beautiful and enchanting” by The Huffington Post and the NY Times has called her “sensational”.
Storm gained national prominence in 2006 as a finalist on the CBS show Rock Star: Supernova. She spent the 90s singing in clubs throughout San Francisco. Highlights of her 2017-18 season include debuts with the San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Vancouver, Jacksonville, and RTÉ National Symphonies, as well as return engagements with the Houston, Toronto, and Toledo Symphonies. Storm and her band, Le Bonheur, continue to tour concert halls across the country.
Recent highlights include engagements with the New York Pops, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Memphis Symphony, and the Knights, as well as performances at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago. Last summer, she joined Michael Feinstein as special guest on the Jazz at Lincoln Center Popular Song series, as well as with Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey, and the Pasadena Pops.
Storm made her debut as guest vocalist with the band Pink Martini in April 2011, singing four sold-out concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. She continues to perform with the band, touring nationally and internationally, and she was featured on their CD, Get Happy. Storm has also sung with Grammy winner k.d. lang, pianist Kirill Gerstein, punk rocker John Doe, singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer George Clinton.
In the fall of 2014, Storm & Le Bonheur released a record designed to capture their sublime and subversive interpretations of the American Songbook. Entitled simply Le Bonheur and released on Pink Martini’s Heinz Records, the recording is a collection of tortured and titillating love songs.
We interviewed Storm Large and asked her about her friendship with Michael Feinstein and what audiences can expect when they go to see her and her band, Le Bonheur, perform on Friday, February 16, 2018 at the Palladium. NOTE: This program contains mature content. For information on the performance and tickets visit, thecenterfortheperformingarts.org.
Have you performed at the Palladium or in the city of Carmel before?
Yes. I performed there with Michael Feinstein in 2016. (During the 2016 Songbook Celebration gala, she led the entire house of fancy people in a sing-along to AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.”)
Last summer, you performed with Michael Feinstein, and Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey and the Pasadena Pops. Describe what that was like, performing with legends such as these?
It was ridiculous! I was clenching my butt cheeks trying not to make a fool out of myself in front of Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey while I was singing a song that Liza made famous. She and Michael [Feinstein]are very close friends and he and I are good friends but she had only heard about me as a person and not as a performer so the mutual connection between us helped.
Now that you’ve met and performed with Liza Minnelli, what is your impression of her?
She could not have been nicer! She was absolutely gracious and lovely and super real. For a legend she was just a real person and really kind.
You mentioned that you and Michael Feinstein are close friends. Having two completely different backgrounds and performance styles, is this friendship a classic case of the odd couple?
Michael and I couldn’t be more different. We’re very different breeds of artists but I have a lot of personal as well as professional love for him. He is so good. Watching him play piano at a cocktail party is just jaw dropping. He is a lovely human being, obviously one of the most talented singers/performers and is unbelievably generous and kind. I am kind of this rock and roll sex-thug from nowhere. I absolutely love him and I feel his love and friendship for me on and off of stage.
Have you always had an affinity for the Great American Songbook or have you just recently developed an appreciation for it?
There are some songs that I find fantastic but I grew up listening to punk rock and rock and roll. When I got into college people wanted me to do musical theatre and I thought musical theatre was bull**** and I hated it. I thought it was hammy, dumb, safe and antiseptic. I felt that that’s not what love and passion is. That’s not what pain is. I thought of it as some shined up bull for people to make sense of messy life. I have a new appreciation for the Great American Songbook in the sense of the crafting of it. It’s just a different vernacular from a different time.
With this new appreciation, how do you interpret the American Standards and how has that changed the way that you perform a song from the Songbook?
I’ve learned that it doesn’t mean that because your grandparents loved the song that the song doesn’t denote difficult, painful or beautiful feelings. The way my music director, James Beaton, came up with “Under My Skin”, which is one of the most popular American standards out there by Cole Porter, he approached it musically was so interesting to me. It sort of reinvigorated and reopened my eyes to the fact that these people lived, died, loved, had sex, fell apart, failed and were terrified. It put blood in the veins of these things that once seemed so cold to me. I still don’t’ go all-in for musical theatre all of the time, but I defiantly have more respect for it now than I ever did.
What can the audience anticipate to experience when they attend your show later this month at the Palladium?
The show will be a lot of favorite songs of mine that will hopefully become favorite songs of the audience. We’ll perform some that I’ve written and some from the Great American Songbook. There will be some jokes and some stories from my life on the road. Of course, I will absolutely wear a beautiful dress.
Will you be performing one of your original songs and which one of your life experiences inspired you to write it?
There’s a song that we often play, it’s called “Angels in Gas Stations”. I didn’t have much parenting growing up because my mother was mentally ill and my father was dealing with that. I had two older brothers who were awesome at sports and I was just this lonely punk rock little kid. I would often end up going to my best friend’s house when no one was home and her mom would take care of me. Years later, her mom was dying of pancreatic cancer and she called me and said if I could help them. I cancelled everything and lived on the dining room floor for a few weeks and did some of the secondary hospice care. I helped keep her mom comfortable and to be there as she went through that transition. It was bad and it was painful and hard but there was some insane magic that happened during that time. There were some crazy visions, moments and conversations and it was amazing. The lyrics are about those experiences.