For the brothers Porter, taking their musical talents from the mountainside of a Wyoming ranch to the sunny ski slopes of South Lake Tahoe was a family affair.
“We were raised on a guest ranch in Wyoming, in Jackson Hole, where our dad was part of an Old West band,” Kaizaac Porter said.
Kaizaac is one of the three brothers that make up PorterHaus Music, a fun-loving, mixed-genre musical act that can be found performing regularly around South Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Village. PorterHaus Music is Kaizaac Porter (guitar, drums, vocals), Kaiziah Porter (drums, percussion, guitar, vocals), and Kairon Porter (bass, vocals).
Born into a musical family that ran and worked the Bar T 5 guest ranch in Jackson Hole, the three brothers grew up playing music under the guidance of their father, Brad Porter, and participating in the ranch’s signature entertainment.
“People would show up, tour buses and stuff. We had 10 wagons that were drawn by draft horses, and they’d ride up the canyon,” Kaiziah Porter said.
“We’d take them 2 miles up the canyon, they’d get attacked by Indians on the way,” Kaizaac Porter chimed in.
“Mountain men would save them, and then they’d have a Dutch oven dinner and cowboy entertainment,” Kaiziah Porter finished.
Basically just a party-rock bundle of everything new and old that you didn’t know you wanted to hear.”
“We started playing when we were younger. Our dad taught me how to play drums,” Kaizaac Porter said. “(He taught) Kaiziah how to play guitar and sing, and Kairon guitar. Then when we got older and our parents had the cowboy dinner show, I learned how to play upright bass for that, and Kaiziah continued to play guitar and sing.”
By their early 20s, the family had sold the ranch, and each of the Porter lads struck out on his own.
“We all kind of split up for a little while, kind of did our own things, working different places,” Kaizaac said.
He wound up in South Lake Tahoe in 2015, and quickly called up his brothers to encourage them to move out to the ski town. Kaiziah soon joined him, with the two working at Kirkwood and playing music around the area. All three brothers are avid snow sports enthusiasts.
“It was a great experience, just playing music and skiing,” Kaiziah said.
Soon they invited older brother Kairon out, luring him away from the Wyoming oil rig on which he had been working, to play bass with them.
“He wasn’t very happy about it, playing bass,” Kaiziah said with a chuckle. “He still kicks us in the ass for it.”
Once assembled, the three brothers were ready to unleash PorterHaus Music on South Lake Tahoe.
The trio plays an eclectic and energetic blend of musical styles, in a live performance full of upbeat, positive energy with the brothers routinely switching between instruments.
“We really like harmonies and all that,” Kaizaac said. “We like to do covers of Beastie Boys or Jurassic 5, ‘cause we’re also big fans of hip-hop and reggae, and stuff like that, Slightly Stoopid. And then we’ll try to get those old-style, three-part harmonies in there.”
“We were raised on a ranch, so old Western stuff like Don Williams, Don Edwards, Sons of the Pioneers, Marty Robbins,” Kaiziah said. “All that stuff really stuck with us and our style.”
The group is fond of blending any number of similar-sounding songs into a mish-mash of recognizable music.
“Even super old reggae, taking a few riffs and putting them into songs, but then having kind of a Crosby Stills Nash kind of thing to add into that,” Kaiziah said. “Just strapping together some stuff, of course it’s all in the same chord progression, we might change them a little bit. Really a lot of our covers, we don’t even play all of them correctly, I don’t think, we just try to get the basis of it.”
“We get the parts that people are going to want to hear, and then the parts that we can’t play we throw into a mashup,” Kaizaac said with a laugh.
PorterHaus Music also has a dozen or so original tunes that it plays, half of which comprise a family-friendly daytime set, and another six or seven songs that are more appropriate for a late-night adult set.
Crowd-friendly, upbeat energy and instrument variation are two other key components of a performance.
“People will always compliment us on how fun we are and how lively we are, interacting with each other,” Kaiziah said. “A lot of its just we’re having fun, mixing little harmonies in songs, feeling like a ’60s backup singer. Just trying to have fun with everything, and it really does show when we play.”
While each has a fairly dedicated role, the three switch instruments regularly onstage, trading back and forth between lead vocals, between percussion and guitar, and between bass and guitar.
“We switch it up enough to keep it interesting,” Kaizaac said.
“When you’re playing, especially your long-set days, it’s always fun to keep it energetic. Because you’ll even get campers there for three or four hours while you’re playing at some of these restaurants, so it’s nice to show them what we got, you know, keep it high energy.”
The three recently released an EP of sorts, recorded with Martin Shears at Tahoe Production House. The tracks were laid down in fall of 2018 and released in January. The album is available on Spotify.
PorterHaus Music can be found regularly around the Heavenly Village, playing Monday at Base Camp Pizza Co. from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Saturdays at Gunbarrel Tavern from 6 to 9:30 pm, and then at California Burger Co. from 10 p.m. to 2 am.
“Cali Burger, they turn off the lights for us, and we get pretty fun in there, pretty loud. It’s a lot of fun,” Kaiziah said.
The group also will be playing a late night St. Patrick’s Day show this Sunday at California Burger.
Looking ahead, PorterHaus Music is working on a tour around Utah in the spring, with dates in St George, Zion, Cedar City and Salt Lake City, with more to come.
For the brothers Porter, it’s all about bringing their unique brand of jamming to audiences anywhere and everywhere. It’s pretty easy to wrap your head around what they’ve got to offer, after all.
“Basically just a party-rock bundle of everything new and old that you didn’t know you wanted to hear,” Kaizaac said.
— Josh Sweigert