The man whose music once brought a hush over The Helm paid a visit last week to our podcast home for an interview and performance. He didn’t know the backstory — how the first time we shared the song “Chris Bell” from his stunning record of last year “27” a quiet fell over the room as our hosts and friends listened intently to his arresting tribute to the late Big Star singer.
It’s one of several stories we share with M. Lockwood Porter better known to his friends as Max, when he stopped by just minutes before his show at the White Eagle Saloon in Portland. Getting to know Max better ourselves, we find out how this Yale-educated songsmith found his way from his hometown in the heart of the Bible Belt — Tulsa, Oklahoma — to his current hombase of the East Bay in Northern California.
Max speaks of his younger days playing in punk bands around Tulsa, how he first met fellow troubadour (and podcast favorite) John Moreland as teenagers and how he began to develop his own music voice from his extended studies of poetry and literature. He also speaks of how the title of his record came to him during the mastering process, when he realized that much of the lyrical content in the “27” record revolved around where he was in life around the time of his 27th birthday.
Of course, that 27th year took away several rock icons, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and less famously Chris Bell, the troubled Memphis rocker who died in a car crash at 27. Max’s song “Chris Bell” had alternative radio buzzing late last year, and he shares a live performance of it and a newer song, “Bright Star.”
We also have a batch of fantastic new songs on the playlist from some of our favorite artists, including Jason Isbell, Banditos, The Honeycutters, Michael Dean Damron and former podcast guests Ron Rogers & The Wailing Wind.
So set those phasers to stun and dial it in. It’s Episode #49 of That Much Further West Podcast. Here’s the playlist:
Chris Bell (Live In The Helm), M. Lockwood Porter
Bright Star (Live In The Helm), M. Lockwood Porter
Different Kind of Lonely, M. Lockwood Porter
Restless, M. Lockwood Porter
Couer d’Alene, M. Lockwood Porter
Let Me Know, Ron Rogers & The Wailing Wind
24 Frames, Jason Isbell
Golden Grease, Banditos
Whiskey And You, Chris Stapleton
Texas ’81, The Honeycutters
I Hope He Breaks Your Heart (Live ), American Aquarium
I Can’t Imagine, Shelby Lynne
20,000 Miles, Michael Dean Damron