We are very sad to share that Chris Porter and Mitchell Vandenburg of Porter and the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes have passed away following an auto collision. Drummer Adam Nurre was injured in the accident and is currently hospitalized.
The following statement was released by This Is American Music:
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn this morning of the passing of Chris Porter. We don’t know many details yet, only that he and his band were in an accident in North Carolina last night. We’ve known Chris for a bit, going back to his band The Back Row Baptists and the lovely Some Dark Holler, who we were privileged to work with, up to his current project with Porter and the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes. But our bond with Chris went well beyond music – he was a dear friend and member of our family, quick with a smile and a quip and never disheartened by the struggles of trying to make a go in this crazy world… and Chris always helped make it a little crazier, weirder and more cosmic. Our thoughts are with Chris’ family and friends and the people who are close to the other band members who were lost and injured. We hope everyone will hug each other a little tighter today, and hold on a bit closer to those who mean something in your lives. As we make these trips around the sun, it is easy for distance to find its way into those bonds, and as Chris’ friend Will Johnson has so poignantly said, “Connect when the feeling strikes. Work on loving. Work to avoid regret. Because a lot of the time it’s hard to tell what the last time looks like.” We love you Porter, and we miss you already.”
This article is from the Austin Chronicle:
An auto accident claimed the lives of Austin musicians Chris Porter and Mitchell Vandenburg yesterday in North Carolina. Bandmate Adam Nurre remains hospitalized.
The touring trio, Porter and the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes, was on the way to a gig in Baltimore after playing in Charleston, S.C., the night before.
The wreck occurred in North Carolina on I-95 near Smithfield midday on Wednesday. According to local reports, traffic on I-95 had been stop-and-go due to multiple accidents that had occurred on that stretch of highway. The RV – a converted Ford shuttle-bus – containing the Austin musicians was stopped in traffic when a semi-truck rear-ended it, killing Porter and Vandenburg. Nurre was rushed to a hospital in Raleigh for non-life-threatening injuries and, according to friends, is conscious.
News of Porter and Vandenburg’s tragic and too-soon passing rocked Austin’s music community on Wednesday night – the widespread impact evidencing just how many people their music and friendship had touched.
Chris Porter, 36, was an Alabama native who fronted the Bama bands the Back Row Baptists and Some Dark Holler, then transplanted in Austin where he maintained his solo career as a deep Americana songwriter. His 2015 LP, This Red Mountain – produced by Centro-matic frontman Will Johnson – showed off his emotionally real-and-raw songcraft. At the time of that records release, Porter told the Chronicle that his primary songwriting influence was “humans.”
“There’s a ton of them just running around loving stuff, hating stuff,” Porter said. “I gravitate to darker themes in my material, but inspiration comes from a lot of directions. Humanity gets my motor running.”
Bassist/songwriter Mitchell Vandenburg was omnipresent and unmistakable force on Austin’s stages – serving as the energetic spark plug for every band he played in. Vandenburg played upright in psychedelic string band Starlings, TN and electric with burgeoning country songstress Carson McHone. The 30-year-old Colorado native, also played with Jackie Meyers, Horti – from the Whiskey Shivers, and Matt Coughlin & the Growlers. Vandenburg, who once served in overseas in the U.S. military (playing in the band, not on the battlefield) was also a gripping songwriter who sang and played acoustic guitar.
Adam Nurre is a classically trained percussionist from Ohio who also spent time playing in McHone’s band and plays with Garner Sloan – which featured Vandenburg on bass.
Porter, Vandenburg, and Nurre all lived together in Austin.