After watching Field Report play The Dells stage earlier in the day, Chris Porterfield sat down with me to discuss his Eau Claire roots, new music on the way, and sharing raspberry tarts with Joni Mitchell. Read more of our interview at Eaux Claires below:
I know you have roots here in Eau Claire, but can you tell me what it’s like to hear and see so many people excited to visit for Eaux Claires Festival?
Honestly, it’s bananas! It’s crazy, and I mean I did a lot of my growing up here. I was here from 2000 to 2006, I was in school and out of school for a while, then in school; I got my dog here, learned out to play music, kind of, here, met my wife here, I graduated from college here, so I did a lot of like, you know, putting down roots things and like formative experiences here in Eau Claire, so I have a deep connection to this place, and it’s crazy to see people from all over the country here, just stoked to be here, and like so many people from my old scene came from all over the place to be here, and so many people from my new scene, and like playing music and meeting people from all over the place are here, and it’s just bananas! It’s taking me like an hour to get anywhere because every ten feet I run into somebody, it’s like “AHHHHHH you’re here!” It’s really cool, it’s really cool.
Who are you looking forward to seeing on the lineup?
Oh my gosh… I don’t even know, I have to pull out my book (referring to the Eaux Claires Field Guide everyone was given upon entrance to the festival.) Ok, well Sturgill (Simpson) is playing in the background right now, I love him, I wanna see The Staves, Tallest Man, my buddy Ben (Lester) plays in that band, I’m gonna go see the PHOX movie, I saw a little bit of Liturgy, I wanna see Low, I wanna see Blind Boys, I wanna see Grandma Sparrow, Sam Amidon… um, tomorrow I’m gonna see Phil Cook, I’m gonna see S. Carey, Sufjan, Aero Flynn, Sylvan Esso, I’m gonna see Chris Rosenau, I’m gonna see Y!Music… I’m just gonna be running everywhere!
Ha, everyone! You’re gonna be running everywhere, especially up that hill (to The Dells stage)!
Aww man, it’s brutal, I wanna find a shortcut. I feel like there’s gotta be a way.
So I loved your two albums, as you probably already know (because I told him so last time he played NYC), is there any new music in the works?
There is! Yes, I’m beginning to write and I’m really excited about what the guys in the band are going to be able to do to new songs. We’re in the midst of festival season right now, and once the summer kind of winds down, I’m gonna do a little bit of solo touring and we’ll probably do one more loop as the full band this Fall, but then we’re gonna kind of close up the cabin, and take the dock in and just get ready for winter, and see what they new songs are asking for and how they’re gonna be treated, and I’m super pumped about it. Because the new stuff I’m coming up with, some of it is super poppy, and some of it is super not, so I just got a pile of stuff that we’re gonna have to sort through and we’ll see what resonates with the guys and what makes sense together as a set of songs for a record.
Do you ever think about maybe splitting off and doing a side project under a different name if you want to experiment?
Yeah! You know, sometimes I think about maybe doing a more stripped down solo record, maybe some of the songs would be better suited for that… you know, there aren’t really any rules for this thing, we just kinda do whatever, wherever the energy is, we’ll go there. But yeah, as long as the songs are coming, and they’re starting to come.
If you could handpick any artist to play next year Eaux Claires Festival, who would you pick?
[Takes a minute to think] Joni Mitchell. I know that she’s really been, not in the greatest of health, but I’ve been on a huge Joni Mitchell tear the last 6 months, just digging into some of her later ‘70’s, early ‘80’s records that I hadn’t really touched before because production-wise they’re strange, but she’s one of those people who’s always pushing boundaries and there’s nobody that writes like her. She’s literally THE BEST. There’s no one better and I would love to see a Joni Mitchell gig.
That would definitely be cool.
Yea… I got to meet her once. I was 18 years old, and a friend of mine from high school, his uncle, had a guitar shop in Hollywood, and he would do work on some of Joni’s instruments. So she was touring with Bob Dylan at the time, and he got us backstage passes at the Target Center in Minneapolis, and we got to meet her, and she bummed me a cigarette, and um, I got to have raspberry tarts with her backstage, and I was such an idiot, like I don’t even know what I said, it was so dumb.
HA! That always happens, doesn’t it?
I know! Like what do you say to somebody, like I liked “Blue” a lot and her record Turbulent Indigo that had just come out, but I didn’t know her catalog. So I’m just some dipshit, like 18-year old boy, like “Hey! What’s it like,” and she was so gracious and so kind. Actually I would love to be in her living room while she’s holding court with smart people, and just sit there and listen. I don’t want to say anything, I’ve got nothing to say to her, but I would like to there in the corner.
To be a little fly on the wall…
Article: Lesley Keller