A combination of naturally powerful pipes and an unstoppable work ethic has propelled vocalist and performer Storm Large to stages around the world. This month, she makes two appearances in the North Bay, singing at the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall and City Winery in Napa.
In an interview, she talks about her natural gift and drive to succeed. “I had this weird, uncanny memory for sound,” recalls Storm Large. “I could listen to the Beatles’ Abbey Road and pick out all of the harmonies and sing each one individually. I didn’t realize I was teaching myself how to sing.”
Growing up in the 1980s, Storm found her inspiration and solace in punk rock records from bands like X and Black Flag. She moved from the East Coast to the Bay Area in the early 1990s and got her first taste of singing rock and roll on stage in San Francisco, where she became a local favorite.
Now living in Portland, Ore. her fame catapulted with TV appearances, a book, and a touring role in the band Pink Martini. The secret of Storm’s success is simple. “When I started I didn’t want to be famous, I wanted to be good at something,” she says.
“I don’t have an end in sight. People ask, ‘How do you know when you’ve made it?’ But you never make it, you just continuously make. I’ve had amazing career triumphs for a scruffy punk from the sticks, and I take a minute to say good job, but keep going. Keep going.”
As well as her own music, Storm Large specializes in performing exuberant theatrical renditions of classic pop, rock, and even punk songs. When she’s not performing with Pink Martini, Large fronts her own band, Le Bonheur, formerly known as the Balls.
“The Balls was my favorite band name of all time,” she laughs. “But then I started doing highbrow stuff. I didn’t care, but my band was like, ‘You can’t call us Balls anymore, you can’t do it. Meanwhile I’m touring in France and there are a lot of songs I sing with the words Le Bonheur in them, and I always laughed. And it means happiness so I thought, ‘Well what do you know about that?'”
Storm Large and Le Bonheur are currently touring the country in anticipation of their upcoming album, also titled Le Bonheur; slated for release Oct. 7. It’s a truly imaginative record, with songs like Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love” arranged in sweeping and sonorous melodies, while songs by Black Sabbath and Bad Brains get their own brilliant homages.
Storm Large appears on Sunday, Oct. 5, at Schroeder Hall, 1801 E Cotati Ave, Rohnert Park. 3pm. $25. 866.955.6040. And again on Thursday, Oct. 9, at City Winery, 1030 Main St, Napa. 8pm. $25-$30. 707.260.1600.