Chris Pureka with Kym Register (of Meltdown Rodeo)
doors at 7:30pm
$24 day of show
$2 off for SPACE members
*Accessibility performance*: This show will include two American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters present for our deaf and hard of hearing communities.
It’s rare for an artist to bridge the divide between critical acclaim and dedicated fan engagement. Chris Pureka is a Portland, Oregon-based singer-songwriter whose body of work has resonated deeply with these seemingly disparate milieus. Their music has straddled the folk, Americana and indie rock genres over the course of their 20-year career, and over that time, their bold vulnerability in processing the intimacies of life in song has struck a chord with those listeners who crave authenticity and depth.
Chris’s elegant emotionality as a vocalist and flair as a lyricist have garnered favorable comparisons to Chan Marshall, Bruce Springsteen, and Patty Griffin. Over many years touring both sides of the Atlantic, they have shared the stage with such diverse and esteemed artists as The Lumineers, Gregory Alan Isakov, The Cowboy Junkies, Haley Heynderickx, and Ani DiFranco. Pureka has had songs featured on such television shows as Brothers and Sisters, Covert Affairs and Shameless and well as a song featured in the Sundance featured indie film, The Royal Road. Along the way, Chris has remained truly independent, selling nearly 50,000 albums through their own label, Sad Rabbit Records.
Kym Register + Meltdown Rodeo
Sometimes the process of mining for melody in words eviscerates the raconteur, gutting them like a tornado through a trailer park. Sometimes, “the truth” is a revival of shit rather forgotten, igniting a coward’s desire to look away. With “Meltdown Rodeo,” Kym Register foregoes such consolatory diversions for visceral scrutiny and unbroken stares. The result is a body of tunes that forages the American south, dislodging its ducked bullets from pearly white sand.
According to Register, “Scottsboro,” the album’s opener, was years in the making. It recounts the little known history of “The Scottsboro Boys,” nine Black men falsely accused of raping a pair of white women in hyperpyrexic 1930’s Alabama. One accuser eventually admitted the allegations were bullshit, but, for Black men in the Jim Crow south (as it is now), any assumptions of guilt are soon proven a permanent brand. Register wails against America’s foremost refrains –jury and peers and whole truths– in lyrics hefty with reconciliation and metaphor. “A blind eye, A blind eye is all justice knows/ Of the truth of what happened in Scottsboro/ Come on now, this story’s not that old.” Contrary to Register’s demand for account, the American south knows no shame.
Whether grappling with the constrictions of gender expressions on dating apps (“How Do You See Me”), evoking the semi-autobiographical loneliness of Dorothy Allison’s Carolina bastards (“Maureen”), or daring white folks to “get right with their history of compliance in racial capitalism” (“Loamlands”), Register affirms that songwriting, at its best, is a gross but necessary confrontation.
Ultimately Register and Meltdown Rodeo (both the newly named band and album) have
achieved in eleven songs something the south has only half-heartedly attempted—undoing generational curses by retiring “bless your heart” lip service.
Damn if we can’t all benefit from a little melting down.