Cory Wong Submitted photo

By now, most of you should be aware of my fondness for ‘new-to-me’ acts. After spending as much time as I have doing this, it is quite literally a rush when I find an artist and/or a sound that makes me sit up and take notice. Also, when you have the cadre of PR folks that have been built up after all these years, their suggestions are a must for such discoveries; so when I got an email from Ken Weinstein at Big Hassle Media concerning a nine-piece band coming to the State Theatre in Portland at the end of the month. I saved the Spotify link he sent so I could give the band’s music a listen. From the first few minutes of first track (“Assassin”) I was a fan of guitarist-songwriter-band leader Cory Wong’s powerfully infectious jazz/funk fusion and knew right then that I just had to chat with him about his music and his upcoming performance in Maine on the 27th of February. Ken set up a phone interview for Feb. 2, so when Wong called from Los Angeles I immediately let him know about how his sound on “The Power Station Tour (West Coast)” had totally blown me away.

Wong: Thank you, that means a lot, I appreciate that.

Q: Are you doing an East Coast leg of that “Power Station” tour soon?
Wong: Yes, my East Coast tour starts in two weeks. I’m doing St. Louis, Nashville, Atlanta, Raleigh, Richmond, D.C., New York, Philly, Boston, Portland, Detroit … Madison, Wisconsin; Chicago and St. Paul. So it’s going to be a great East Coast/Mid-West tour. … The West Coast leg was absolutely slamming, so I’m stoked to get back out, because by the end of this last tour the band was sounding so tight. And it just keeps getting more and more tight.

Q: I was going to say that this one-hour-and-43-minute long recording is one of the tightest performances I’ve heard in a long, long time. Now, I’m used to lyric-driven material, but I didn’t miss them at all during this recording. I mean, the track titled “Home” didn’t need a single word because it was warm and comforting — just like the title — and your distinctive guitar stylings are perfect.
Wong: Thanks! That one was a really interesting one to write. … Honestly, I’m stoked that you connected with that one, because that, to me, is my favorite tune that I’ve ever written, even though it’s a little bit of an anomaly in my catalogue. So much of my stuff is high-energy, fast, that sort of fun funk thing. It’s one of those songs that not only captures my ‘voice’ so much, but even more so, it just captures who I am as a person, if that makes sense.

Q: It does, and what is so cool about it, Cory is that you hear it; it’s there, no explanation needed (laughter). I mean, lyrics would be superfluous.
Wong: (Laughter) Thank you for saying that. I appreciate that.

Q: Now when you come to Maine for that gig in Portland, one of your band members will be Victor Wooten, who I’ve talked with when he was a Flecktone with Bela Fleck. And I also checked up on Trousdale, the special guest appearing on this leg of the tour, and discovered that the group is a trio of young women folk/pop singers with incredible vocal harmonies. I can hardly wait to hear how their style of music pairs with your power jazz/funk groove. This is going to be the coolest, most unexpected marriage of music ever!
Wong: (Chuckle) Yeah, it’s going to be really fun. They’re just so cool, and I love the things that they do, their harmony thing. And then they’re going to get up and sing with me on a couple of tunes also, so it’s going to be awesome. We’re going to have a lot of fun.


Q: Are you going to do a recording of this leg of the tour like you did after the West Coast run?
Wong: That is my plan, yes. So much of the magnetism about my band is in the live show and that live energy, so having those live records really just brings you to that feeling, which is really fun to do.

Q: Is that initial “Power Station Tour (West Coast)” recording available on CD?
Wong: Not on CD, but it is available digitally everywhere. But I probably will end up doing something with the vinyl record for that one.

Q: And the length of that one, 103 minutes, man, that’s a full concert in itself.
Wong: Oh, yeah, totally.

Q: Have you ever performed in Maine before?
Wong: I performed one time when I was playing with another artist, but I’ve never actually done my own concert in Maine. This is my first time doing it. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be an absolute blast!

Q: Well, seeing that this will be not only a venue debut but a Maine debut, what can folks expect from your show at the State Theatre on Feb. 27th?
Wong: It is a high-energy, fun, funk, big band sort of just musical extravaganza (laughter). A ton of entertainment, it’s just really a fun, high-energy show, so they should come ready to have a good time.

Q: Just out of curiosity, how long have you been doing this style of music?
Wong: I’ve been doing it for like 5½ years. Playing professionally is all I’ve really done as a career, but doing my own thing, my own artistry, it feels to me like a semi-new venture.

Q: Is there anything, Cory that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article about your Maine debut?
Wong: Yeah, just that the show is going to be an absolute blast. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, if you’re looking for something to boost your mood and have a good time, this is it. Check out my music online, and if it’s something that you feel like you connect with, come and hang out at the show, support the band, it’s going to be a good time!

Lucky Clark, a 2018 “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award winner, has spent more than 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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