Origin: Victoria, British Columbia
Born in Victoria, British Columbia, and rarely straying from the West Coast of Canada ("The sole pinprick of temperate weather in all of Canada"), Wyckham Porteous realized very early in life that his path would be that of a writer and in particular a singer/songwriter.
"I knew I had to be a songwriter. I knew I wanted to sing. But, where I was living, there was no Nashville, no Tin Pan Alley, no L. A., there was really no place to put your focus."
So he played a lot of festivals. He did his songs in the clubs. He logged a lot of miles. He did everything he was supposed to do. And finally, his break came when he wrote and starred in the hit play Joe's Cafe which enjoyed an extended run at Vancouver's prestigious Arts Club Theatre. Soon afterward, more out of romance than design, he and his long-time partner Patty Fraser, well known for her work in live theatre, wrote and performed a very cool radio play brimming with songs about these journeys for the nationwide Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC). Well, the CBC loved it... and everyone that mattered seemed to have tuned right in. Soon, an angel financed an '89 album that was picked up by Bryan Adams' management firm, and charted Top 20 on Canadian radio. Leading to a 17-song CD, independently distributed in Canada, and a slot on Rod Kennedy's Kerrville Festival, down Texas way......
Teaching a songwriting school at Kerrville with Austin's country diva, Christine Albert, Wyckham managed to make a lasting impression. Not only on his students and on the ever-discriminating promoter (Rod immediately booked him for the main stage), but, as fate would have it, on his co-instructor, who snuck his demo into the baggage of her friend, Jimmy LaFave. She knew LaFave was on his way to visit Bohemia Beat chief Mark Shumate in Denver. When Jimmy got to Denver they listened to a few demos, got to the one labeled "Porteous" and pretty soon were both grinning like little kids. It was then that the hard-to-please Shumate whispered, "Maybe this one should have a credit like 'Produced By Jimmy LaFave'...." The voice from the rain had found a place in the sun.
Wyckham's album Looking for Ground, was a milestone in his career. Recorded in Austin, Texas, and released in September 1995, it was greeted with rave reviews in Canada, the United States and a number of European countries, and was hailed as "a roots rock masterpiece" by the Associated Press. The album reached the Top Ten on the Gavin Report`s "Americana" chart, and was named Best Roots Traditional Album at the 1997 Pacific Music Industry Association`s annual West Coast Music Awards show.
It was followed by In This World, his first album for Ragged Pup Records. Porteous decided to move away from the roots-oriented folk/rock of his first three albums, and explore new musical ground. Morris Tepper the Los Angeles-based guitarist and producer best known for his work with Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits, Frank Black and P.J Harvey, was Wyckham's producer and guide to new directions.
Originally, the project was to be a collection of previously recorded but never released material, augmented by new spoken word and instrumental parts, but when Morris and Wyckham went to the rustic Nomad Studio on Saltspring Island and started rehearsals with drummer Pat Steward (Odds) and bassist Rob Becker (Patricia Conroy), the original idea was scrapped. In five days, they had finished the basic tracks for ten new songs.
As sessions progressed in Vancouver, Victoria and on Saltspring, both producer and artist realized they needed a third party involved - a mixing engineer that could handle a "big" sounding album and give the music the sheen it deserved. Joe Chiccarelli, a friend of Tepper's and a veteran of sessions with Beck, Frank Zappa and U2 offered to mix the project.
Wyckham's first CD release of the new millennium is in some ways a major step forward for him, but done by way of a step back. While his previous recordings were about searching, sexanddrinking, recorded for Cordova Bay Records - reflecting a rockier sound, is about what he found. A travelogue, the album reflects what he has discovered during the journey, including what is good, what is bad and what is indifferent. Almost a throwback to the 60s, sexanddrinking is a concept album with threads that crisscross and intertwine creating storylines with complex texture and vivid imagery.
Picking up where he started with Looking for Ground Wyckham has introduced new sounds that are augmented with the spoken word and various singing styles and voices. The album sounds warm, rich and smooth. While recording in several locations including a garage, the bulk of the project took shape in Vancouver's Magic Lab Studios with co-producer John Ellis. Once again, with the rock solid backing of Pat Steward (Odds) and Rob Becker (Patricia Conroy), this record takes chances. It is an artistic album. The tracks are held together not by tempo, or sonic similarly but by story, emotion and feel. It is hard to explain having piano lounge tracks mixed with folk rap, rock, jazz, country and blues on the same album unless something stronger is holding the pieces together - and this is the case with this work.
sexanddrinking was nominated for Best Indie Release and Best Folk Release at the 2002 West Coast Music Awards. Wyckham was additionally honoured by being nominated for Musician of the Year.
Back to back Jessie nominations in 2000 and 2001 for Outstanding Sound Design and Original Composition confirms again that Wyckham continues to work in all creative fields with success and recognition.
In 2003 the fifth annual Leo Awards a celebration of excellence in British Columbia Film and Television nominated sexanddrinking for Best Program. The video's director, Jason Bourque, was nominated for Best Director for his oustanding work -- transforming Vancouver's Wise Hall into a British Pub.
Photo by Peter Dibdin