Whether or not he knows how to use a camera, Christopher Porterfield, the singer and songwriter for Wisconsin-based band Field Report, is one hell of a photographer.
Maybe he’s a painter. A picture maker, let’s say.
Porterfield doesn’t capture these unique snapshots and their attached emotions with a Nikon or a Canon or with oil on canvas or watercolors. He paints his vivid pictures with lyrics, layered on finger-picked acoustic guitars, a pedal steel, and an upright bass, held up with with the steady softness of a vintage organ.
At least that’s my impression of Porterfield’s new band, and their self-titled debut record that I haven’t been able to stop listening to here at the office.
Porterfield is well known for his time as a guitarist for DeYarmond Edison, a band that included Justin Vernon of Bon Iver that was active in the early-to-mid 2000s. When the rest of the band moved to North Carolina, Porterfield stayed behind, got married, and took a job at the admissions office at Marquette University.
He told a CMJ reporter he’d considered giving up playing music completely.
“I was ready to get married and start a career, and I started working at the university, and I was pretty well convinced that I was gonna be a grownup,” he said.
He eventually got the itch to began playing for people again, and started writing songs for what would become Field Report. It wasn’t long before the band released its first album on Partisan Records and began touring with Emmylou Harris and Counting Crows. For the most part, the critics have been eating it up.
Field Report will play in Fayetteville later this month during two sets at the Fayetteville Roots Festival.
The appearance won’t be Porterfield’s first time in town, though. It’s been about 27 years, actually, but he seems to recall his visit (mostly) fondly.
“I was in Fayetteville when I was 5 years old for a Porterfield family reunion,” he said. “We rented a van. My grandmother bought me a Gobot, I saw Jungle Book in the theater, and my mother broke her ankle on the tennis court.”
Porterfield said he’s been writing songs for a new album that he’ll begin recording in October, some of which he’ll likely try out at the Fayetteville shows.
The band will perform at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24 in the Walton Arts Center’s Starr Theatre, and at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25 during the festival’s closing party at George’s Majestic Lounge.