4.15.09 Chris Pureka @ Mississippi Studios

Last night I attended my first show at the newly remodeled, and very much improved, Mississippi Studios. This venue has always been my favorite place to catch live, acoustic music ever since that fateful day on March 31, 2007 when I saw Brandi Carlile perform for the first time. Since then, I have seen Erin Mckeown, Girlyman, Chris Pureka, Toshi Reagon and countless others perform in what I consider the best place in Portland to hear an intimate music performance.

For those of you who have never been to Mississippi Studios before, the old venue used to seat about 80 people, tops. It was very cozy and felt like you were in a friend's living room listening to music. It was also very awkward and difficult to move around because it was so small. The remodeled version takes everything I would want in a venue and executes it perfectly. The entrance is now on Mississippi Avenue. Walking in, there is a bar area with tables to sit at. They check your tickets and you walk to the other side and there is a nice wide open space for either standing room only shows, or seated shows. The bar has two sides to it, so you can go and have a beer and sit in the lounge area or you can get a beer once in the venue. The best part about that, is there is a garage door that is lowered once the set begins, thus keeping all bar noise away from the music!!! There is also tiered seating upstairs if you want to sit down for the standing shows.

Chris Pureka has been a favorite of mine ever since my friend Charlotte told me about her music a little over a year ago. She usually performs solo or with a fiddle player, so imagine my surprise to see a full band set-up when we arrived.

Her opener was Carrie Biell, a resident of Seattle. She had a great sound, reminiscent of other Pacific NW alt-country songstresses, including Sera Cahoone (who played on her latest album), Star Anna, Laura Gibson, and Laura Veirs. Her pedal steel/dobro-playing guy, Steve Norman, also played with Chris later on. All in all, I enjoyed her performance and plan to buy her music as soon as my budget allows!

I wish I had a setlist, at some point I will listen to the audio I boot-legged and compile the setlist here. Chris played songs from her past two albums, "Dryland" and "Driving North". She also played the majority of her songs off her new EP, "Chimera".

As I stated before, Chris usually plays either solo or with her fiddle player. I thoroughly enjoy her music no matter who is playing with her. She comes off a little timid and unsure of herself in front of the microphone. Some would even go so far as to say she hides behind the microphone. Well, this show was completely different.

She had her usual fiddle player, who also plays bass, a drummer, another fiddle player/vocalist, and Steve Norman on pedal steel. Having a full band made a huge difference in the energy on stage and added some depth to many of her songs.

I'm going to listen to the show again tomorrow and update this blog. In the meantime, here are some pictures from the show: