July 01, 2012
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Storm Large performs.
Storm Large performs.

Unadulterated Passion

Storm Large (born Susan Storm Large, June 25, 1969) is a singer best known as a popular contestant on the CBS reality television show “Rock Star: Supernova.”

Large was born and raised in suburban Southborough, Mass. Since around age five, she’s been singing and writing songs. 

She graduated in 1987 from St. Mark’s School, a prestigious private school — alumni include Ben Bradlee of The Washington Post, Prince Hashim of Jordan and Franklin Delano Roosevelt III. Her father, Henry Large, was a history teacher there, as well as the football team coach before he retired. After high school, she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, where she earned an associates degree in 1989.

Soon after leaving AADA in 1989, Large moved to San Francisco and became involved in the music, drug and sex scene. She had an addiction to heroin in San Francisco but credits music with getting her off the drug. 

While in San Francisco, Large became involved in a variety of musical endeavors. She formed the bands Flower SF, Storm and Her Dirty Mouth, and Storm, Inc. She also performed with Michael Cavasito as the duo Storm and Michael or Storm and Friends.

Large moved to Portland in 2002, originally planning to quit music and attend the Western Culinary Institute, but at the urging of friends — in particular, Frank Faillace, owner of Portland rock club Dante’s Inferno — she began singing again with a band she called The Balls.

In mid-January 2012, Large published a memoir titled “Crazy Enough,” an expansion on her one-woman cabaret show produced by Portland Center Stage that is now headed to off-Broadway in New York. The book, published by Free Press, is her account of growing up with a mother with psychological issues and the chaos and eventual success in music that followed.

OWP: When and how did you first become interested in wine?

SL: There is something about a night when good wine is flowing that is inherently candle lit and full of ripe potential. It slows and accelerates moments into memory and wistfulness … it’s romance. In 2001, I was being wined and dined by some muckity-muck from a label at a beautiful hotel in San Francisco. A string quartet was playing side-one of Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd). Muckity-muck was going on about how great I was and what did I want my brand to be… But the strongest memory of that night was the fat and endless glasses of deep garnet Silver Oak ’97 that my mouth bleeped it all night in a subtle riot of velvet and flavor and f*%# everything else. Yeah, maybe it was then.

OWP: What are some of your favorite Oregon wine producers?

SL: I have had some incredible Oregon wines, but I don’t always remember. My recent favorite was Lange. But I tend toward sluttier reds, ones that lie down in your mouth and give it up to you, like French Malbec or California Cabernet. Some Oregon reds struggle on your tongue; you can taste the cold nights and the cruel tease of fickle, unpredictable sunshine.

OWP: What’s your favorite red variety? Favorite white?

SL: I’m polyamorous with reds. If it’s chocolate-y and fat, I will love it until it’s gone. Whites, I tend to stick with Chardonnay … La Crema is my favorite.

My band was recently in the mountains over Santa Barbara, on our way to San Luis Obispo from L.A., and we stopped at Laetitia Winery where I had a rosé brut I LOVED. A girly, apple-crispy, grassy, über-feminine wine. Way more frou-frou than I would ever expect to like, let alone love.

OWP: What is it about food and wine that intrigues you?

SL: Food and wine are enjoyed in the spaces between our busy times. We have to stop to enjoy them. Like when it’s sexy time … gotta stop, focus the senses and tune all our nerve endings toward pleasure. I love my job, get a lot of joy out of singing and performing, but it is long stretches of constant movement, perpetual working — even when it looks like I’m not. When I get a REAL night off, wherever I am, I try to find a great restaurant to enjoy local food and wine, breathe and drink it all in. I recently had that in Budapest. Thomas Lauderdale (Pink Martini) and I sat by the Danube, ate goulash, drank Tokaji, and I sang with a trio of gypsies who damn near carried me off. Fantastic night.

OWP: What are your favorite restaurants in Portland?

SL: First and foremost, Andina. Consistently the best food, service and atmosphere, no matter what night of the week. Dick’s Kitchen in Southeast. Only hamburgers in the world I will eat that I didn’t make myself. I had brunch at Irving Street Kitchen awhile back that was so good it made me want to orally please the whole kitchen staff. Not kidding. Broder also consistently rules. Grüner, Bunk Bar, Sapphire Hotel, Noble Rot, ¿Por Qué No? anytime and Burgerville sweet potato fries in the fall.

OWP: When friends come over for dinner, what’s your go-to dish and wine (or cocktail) that you like to serve?

SL: I cook all kinds of crazy for friends. During barbecue season, I usually flame-broil garlic greens and romaine, buffalo burgers, beer-soaked chicken. Indoors, I might slow-cook greens or lamb shanks. I’ve started making my own Pho, too — perfect for cold and flu season. Or buttermilk fried chicken and coconut rice. Brussels sprouts roasted with a sprinkle of capers and lemon pepper with a buttery plank of salmon on top … mmmm … me and food … we get along great. I like to have different wine on hand depending on who’s coming and what we’re having. I love reds from Layer Cake and Chateau St. Michelle for anything.

OWP: When and where should fans in Oregon expect to see you on stage this year?

SL: I’m in Eugene with Pink Martini on July 1. I am with my band at Alberta Rose Theatre (Portland) at the end of August, plus two shows New Year’s Eve at the The Aladdin Theater (Portland). More than that, I’m sure, but you can look on www.stormlarge.com to check. You may know before I do when and where I’m playing!