Oct 29, 2018
Oct 19, 2017
|Art by Pearl Rachinsky Moreland|
by Matthew Martin
This one was honestly kind of tough. It's such a gut-wrenching album. And, I feel I don't have the words to properly articulate the feelings Don't Go Baby It's Gonna Get Weird Without You gave me.
For those of you who don't know, Chris Porter, longtime musician and by all accounts good dude, along with his bass player Mitchell Vanderburg passed away after a traffic incident on the way to a show in Baltimore, MD. Their drummer survived the crash. This happened exactly one year ago from Thursday (October 19, 2016).
Porter and his bandmates, the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes, were working with Will Johnson (of Centro-matic fame) on recording Porter's follow-up to his stellar 2015 release, This Red Mountain. Unfortunately, Chris and Mitchell would not see the release of this album, but - a credit to the likability of Porter - many got together to ensure this album was finished and would see the light of day. That day is Friday, October 20, 2017.
One of my favorite Porter projects is the Porter and The Pollies EP from a few years ago. It was rollicking, fun-loving, and just a loose affair. It really showed off Porter's skills as a songwriter and a bandleader. This Red Mountain focused more on the songwriting than the rocking and rolling, documenting a tumultuous time in Porter's life when he moved to Austin, TX.
In 2016, talk began circulating of a new album Porter was working on with a crackerjack band and producer. I got incredibly excited, hoping that the album would continue to grow the talented Porter's popularity. Tragically, as I mentioned, Porter would never see that album released. However, I was right in my hopes. This is the album that would have hopefully, at least in a just world, sent Porter on a trajectory of playing larger venues, at the very least, and it is an absolute masterpiece of an album; the final puzzle piece of Porter's career.
Every song leaves a mark, with a gut-punch lyric that seems foreboding in retrospect. There are moments that careen almost off the rails, but are held together by a thin thread, and it's truly magical to hear. "Your Hometown" is a perfect example of this careening. It's a rocker that happens to be one of my favorite Porter songs. To me, a great song is one that seems it was written either specifically for, or about you/your life. And this song hits every note for me. Small, rural, Southern town living...I'm a long way from that now, but damn this song takes me back there with every listen.
This is an album full of heart-breaking songs about, presumably, Porter, his relationships, and the past. There are songs dealing with tragedy, and those are some of the hardest to listen to. When you hear "Shit Got Dark", it's hard to get through... But, it's also a song played and sung with sheer defiance. Yeah, shit got dark, but maybe there's enough stubborn attitude in us to not let that be the end of the story.
As far as final albums go, this one is crushing to me because it's absolutely Chris Porter's best and most fully realized album. The promise the album shows was taken from us last year, and that deserved recognition Porter was always riding towards, always just out of reach, will sadly never be reached.
Credit the musicians on this album as well - an Americana who's who featuring John Calvin Abney, Shonna Tucker, Will Johnson, and The Mastersons. Everyone involved in this project worked incredibly hard to get this album out and I have to believe Porter would be incredibly happy and satisfied with the final product.
To close this out, remember that we love these artists for the release they give us. The way they make us forget our problems, or let us wallow in them knowing we aren't alone. We forget that they are real people at times. People with darkness and light, ebbs and flows. People with flaws and imperfections. They work hard for us- to show us that we aren't alone. So, please, when a band comes through, go see them. Support them. Buy all of their albums. Keep them going.
To Chris Porter, who I never met, I will quote one song I have a hard time making it through still ("Go On And Leave Me"):
"Hope you find a spot where the lights are hot and draw a crowd..."
Don't Go Baby It's Gonna Get Weird Without You is available tomorrow on Amazon, Cornelius Chapel, etc.
Oct 12, 2017
Chris Porter was a good dude. An extremely talented songwriter and musician with a voice you might have to get used to, but once you do, you love it. Beyond all that though, he was just a good dude. Chris was always friendly and funny. He's a Couch by Couchwest veteran. He personally sent his music to Farce the Music and was always gracious whenever we'd post about him. I miss him.
Today, we're exclusively premiering a new track (from the forthcoming release Don't Go Baby It's Gonna Get Weird Without You), "Stoned in Traffic," from Chris and his all-star band The Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes, who consist of John Calvin Abney, Will Johnson, and Shonna Tucker. A lineup doesn't get much better than that, and this is a cool song. Hope you dig it. And stick around - below the player is a lot more information about this great artist and stellar human who left us far too early.
On October 19, 2016, tragedy struck on on I-95 in North Carolina when Chris Porter and his bandmate Mitchell Vandenberg, were killed in a van crash on their way to play a show in Baltimore. Even before his budding solo career, Porter had been a cult favorite amongst his fellow musicians, an adored staple of the Americana scene, touring all over the country with his bands Some Dark Holler, The Back Row Baptists and Porter & the Pollies.
Prior to his death, Porter—along with an all-star cast of musicians including producer Will Johnson (Centro-matic, South San Gabriel, Monsters of Folk), ex-Drive-By Truckers bassist Shonna Tucker, Chris Masterson & Eleanor Whitmore (The Mastersons, Steve Earle) & John Calvin Abney (John Moreland, Samantha Crain)—had just finished writing and recording what would be his swan song, Don't Go Baby It's Gonna Get Weird Without You. The album is the follow up to Porter's acclaimed solo debut, This Red Mountain. Now, with the help of his friends and family, this brilliant posthumous record from Porter & the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes is slated for an Oct. 20 release on Cornelius Chapel Records.
New single "Stoned In Traffic" is a raunchy guitar and cowbell-driven rocker with a boot-stomping groove and a chorus that begs to be blared out of the windows of a truck rolling down the highway on a sunny day. It feels reminiscent of Uncle Tupelo's more upbeat work, with a hint of power pop added by a synth pad that fits right in, despite what genre purists might think at a glance.
|Chris Porter (1980-2016). Photo by Alex Hooks.|
CHRIS PORTER - DON'T GO BABY IT'S GONNA GET WEIRD WITHOUT YOU
On October 19, 2016, tragedy struck on on I-95 in North Carolina when beloved Americana artist, Chris Porter, and his bandmate Mitchell Vandenberg, were killed in a van crash on their way to play a show in Baltimore. Long before his budding solo career, Porter had been an adored staple of the Americana scene, touring all over the country with his bands Some Dark Holler, The Back Row Baptists and Porter & the Pollies.
Prior to his death, Porter—along with an all-star cast of musicians including producer Will Johnson (Centro-matic, South San Gabriel, Monsters of Folk), former Drive-By Truckers bassist Shonna Tucker, Chris Masterson & Eleanor Whitmore (The Mastersons, Steve Earle) & John Calvin Abney (John Moreland, Samantha Crain)—had just finished writing and recording what would be his swan song, Don't Go Baby It's Gonna Get Weird Without You. The album is the follow up to Porter's acclaimed solo debut, This Red Mountain. Now, with the help of his friends and family, this brilliant posthumous record from Porter & the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes is slated for an Oct. 20 release via Cornelius Chapel Records.
"I think Porter wanted things loose and wanted things to rock a little more on this record," says friend and producer Will Johnson. "He was ready to turn the guitars up a little more and let the band be the band. He'd experienced a great deal between This Red Mountain and Don't Go Baby—he'd settled into Austin, toured relentlessly, had fallen in love again, and experienced the difficult loss of his dog just a couple months before the sessions. I can only guess he wanted this record to represent a clear-eyed document of the road traveled since This Red Mountain, and a look at whatever the road ahead might have held for him. There was a lot going on."
The first track to surface from the album, contemplative mid-tempo rocker "Shit Got Dark"—presumably about trying in vain to break free of the chains of your hometown—takes on a deeper, almost chilling significance in the wake of Porter's untimely death...
Shit got dark, whole town fell apart
The place that healed your heart began to die
Shit got tragic, goddamn he almost had it
They say this town is magic when you’re high
Is there something in the air that makes ‘em go so young in Alabama
Well I might have to question all the reasons that I run
Count the stars and stages on the walls that hold up Birmingham
Try to live ’til next year, when I come
Well I got low, how was I to know
Wrapped around me slow and burned like fire
Did I get past it, or did I just outlast it
Or am I next to go from darker times
Is there something in the air that makes us grieve so long in Alabama ...
"Porter survived a lot of heartache in his short life and I think you can tell on this album," says, Porter's fiance, Andrea Juarez, who—along with several of Porter's closest musician friends—was instrumental in making sure his final album would see release. "He was tired of touring, tired of hustling and not making it. He was tired of Austin turning into nothing but high-end condos and $7 dollar tacos. But he loved his music, and we loved each other. Our game plan was to get the album out, get married, buy a house in Nashville and split time in Austin.
"I've never heard a guitarist play the guitar like Porter did. He had this way of stroking the guitar strings as he played—I can close my eyes and see him do it and hear it. He was so damned proud of the songs he wrote on this new album. He'd always been a part of something—The Stolen Roses, The Back Row Baptists, Porter & The Pollies, Some Dark Holler—and then the previous album he made with Bonnie Whitmore's help. Don't Go Baby was truly the first time he stood alone and he knew that. He was ready and he put his heart and soul in it."
After the album's Oct. 20 release on Cornelius Chapel Records, there will be a pair of album-release shows in Porter's two former hometowns, where his life will be celebrated by his many musician friends, who will be paying heartfelt tribute. The first, in Austin, Texas, is scheduled for Oct. 21, and the second, at Syndicate Lounge in Birmingham, Ala., will be Nov. 4.