Chris Pureka
Gig Seeker Pro

Chris Pureka

Portland, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2004 | INDIE

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2004
Band Folk Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"MP3 At 3PM: Chris Pureka"

New England singer/songwriter Chris Pureka creates notoriously heartbreaking music. Just take a listen to the dripping-with-emotion “Hangman” below, which features Pureka’s dynamic, breathy vocals a la Chan Marshall alongside a weeping violin. The track is from Pureka’s third full-length, How I Learned To See In The Dark, which is out April 13 via her own label, Sad Rabbit Music. Pureka will also be touring the U.S. extensively this spring in support of the release. MAGNET is proud to premiere “Hangman” today; download it below. - Magnet Magazine

"CMJ 'O8 Local, Ladies"

Chris Pureka, another Billboard Underground favorite, played to a packed room directly after, summoning the spirits of Gillian Welch’s “Revelator” or Ryan Adams’ “Heartbreaker.” And break hearts she did. Her husky moan cradled her adoring fans and her funny between-song banter brought ‘em home.

-Katie Hasty - October 23, 2008 -

"New York Times Live Review"

An interviewer asked Chris Pureka to sum up her music as a haiku. I will: Folky sorrowful songs of loneliness and hurt, longing to reunite. Her tunes have the grave Appalachian flavor of Neil Young and Gillian Welch; her guitar playing is subdued but quietly virtuosic. And her voice can be a desolate whisper or a bitter accusation. There’s no comfort, for her, in the clarity of her observations.

– John Pareles, THE NEW YORK TIMES - New York Times

""Pretty shy""

She walked onto stage quietly and sat down on the near-empty Iron Horse stage. She wore Doc Martens and blue jeans, blonde highlights in her cropped hair and the warmest smile this side of the Connecticut River. Yes, what makes Chris Pureka unique in a scene saturated with folk and singer/songwriter musicians is the sparkle in her eye.

Marry a good old country tune with a beautifully plaintive voice and you have Chris Pureka. Her opening set at Friday’s Iron Horse show consisted of mostly slow songs of love and loss (mostly loss) as well as hope in the search of new love. She tuned her guitar between every song, but her refreshing shyness made up for any awkward moments.

With a concentration of singer/songwriter acts courting the western Mass audience, it's often difficult to discern differences among performers, especially without the benefit of a full band. But, Chris has the guitar chops (she was a student of Sue Burkhart, lead guitarist of the Western Mass rock band Super Kart) and the vocal cords to set her apart from the rest. She would probably do very well in front of a band if she ever wanted to leave the lonely country road behind.

Her next Pioneer Valley gig is at PACE in Easthampton on Friday, February 13, and her new album is due out in April.

-Kristen Beam -


TALES OF NORTHERN CLIMES: Northampton songwriter Chris Pureka's new CD, ''Driving North,'' arrives with the chill of a retreating winter's last exhale. In its sparseness, her recording seems a woman's updating of Springsteen's ''Nebraska.'' The 11 tightly coiled compositions ride low emotionally, but rock with rhythms of the road. A performer like Pureka gets to see a lot of the road these days, now that she and her guitar are in demand - she has dates next week in Oregon, where she will open for Kris Delmhorst and headline at a women's festival. Tonight, though, she enchants a hometown crowd at the Iron Horse in Northampton, with a 7 p.m. CD release party. (Meg Hutchinson opens; tickets are $13 at the door.)

PUREKA'S PLACES: ''Silo Song,'' on the new CD, uses that farm building as a metaphor for the place people shovel secrets, storing away hurts that need air and sunshine. ''3 A.M.'' extends a plaintive, late-night plea for reconnection with a missing friend. The title track ''Driving North,'' which closes her disc, charts a course away from the fortress of someone's disregard. The best company, on Pureka's dispiriting ride, is the artist's ability to draw a personal voice from the strings of her guitar, a talent best displayed on the instrumental ''Reprieve.'' Pureka's singing voice is like homespun fabric that, when she lets emotion rise, becomes flocked with gold. Even when her songs dip into depression, the love lifted from Pureka's frets is as bright as high beams.

-Larry Parnass
Daily Hampshire Gazette: Thursday, May 6th 2004 - Daily Hampshire Gazette

"Performing Songwriter - Driving North D.I.Y. Review"

A folk troubadour in the style of Ani DiFranco, Chris Pureka quickly captivates with her skilled guitar and rapid-fire lyrics.

“Maybe you learned it from your family / Mix in a little of the Midwest / You could use some New York City” she sings in opening track “Silo Songs,” a tirade against the puritanical elements permeating much of America.

In “Grey,” Pureka paints a somber picture with “a saffron day,” an evening train and “the periwinkle sky … just the night in disguise.” She completes the impression with the mellowing mantra “Everything eventually turns grey.”

The entire album puts a novel’s worth of imagery into every song. But the standout is “Porch Songs,” an anthem about crossing the vast expanse of this country. Rest-stop coffee, serendipitous wrong turns and “saving quarters for the toll roads” conjure up images of road-wizened travelers, and resurrect memories of summers past, youth and freedom. - Performing Songwriter

"FAME review"

Western Massachusetts attracts singer/songwriters like California grows fields of poppies: it's a combination of climate and community, atmosphere and light. Chris Pureka fits right into that mecca of musicians nestled into the hills surrounding Northampton and Amherst, and directly into the heart of what's young and fresh in acoustic music today.

Possessing a voice that's hard to pin down, but lies somewhere on the softer side of Melissa Etheridge and Stevie Nicks, Pureka captivates with a soft vibrato with a hint of sand rather than gravel. It's the kind of voice that draws you in because it is both tough and vulnerable - world weary yet willing to see things anew.
Pureka knows how to both turn a lyric and nimbly finger pick a tune on the guitar. Her debut CD, Driving North, captures those twin talents in droves. The songs here document a journey through a difficult relationship and a painful breakup, where the landscape of memory takes over. The sky is dark, the emotions are raw, and the memories are wistful and full of longing.

The CD opens with Silo Song, which whisks us along the road of secrecy and the difficulty to communicate freely and openly. Pureka's compelling voice and driving guitar kicks this project wide open.
The landscape remains dark and gray in the tune 3 A.M. It's in the early hours of the morning when you know that you've been chasing that elusive someone who you just can't get out of your mind. Loneliness never sounded so good.

Burning Bridges reads like a short story detailing love and regret:
and then she leans over and lifts off your glasses
and the next thing you know you're tangled and
guilty and you've got a head full of liquor and perfume.

Reprieve provides just that - an instrumental piece with Pureka on guitar without the vocal. Her wonderfully deft fingers cave out a tune that speaks as eloquently as her voice and lyrics about the land of pain and regret.
While the landscape is dark, and there is plenty of sorrow, and failed love and connection abound, Driving North is far from melancholy. The title itself, like the driving force of Pureka's guitar, implies movement forward. There is a brightness in Pureka's voice and a vulnerability in her lyrics that imply a willingness to try again - to do it all over again, in fact.

Pureka's sound is fresh and new. Her songs unfold like beautifully written short stories - you want to hear about the journey rather than the destination. Chris Pureka has a brilliant career ahead of her. Driving North is a magical beginning. - FAME: A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

"Northeast Performer - Driving North review"

Chris Pureka - Driving North
Produced by Chris Pureka, Sebastien Renfield, and Mark Alan Miller
Engineered and Mixed by Mark Allan Miller at Slaughterhouse Recording Studio, Amherst, MA
Mastered by Colin Decker at M Works, Boston, MA
Reviewer -C.D. DiGuardia

Hopefully, "Pureka" is pronounced like "eureka", because it's evident that the listener has found something good upon first spin of this disc. Pureka's sound is as crisp and invigorating as the early winter morning depicted in the album artwork. Her sound is also comfortable in a way that is unmistakably New England, the sonic equivalent of a leaf pile being blown around after a satisfying kick. The crunch and rustle of Pureka's sound provides an interior sensory experience that goes beyond that of simple sound. Every portion of this record evokes the autumnal down-home New England feel and supports the experience; be it the jangle of the acoustic guitar or the smooth, occasionally husky vocal delivery from the artist herself. Pureka ranges from airy to gritty, often times in the same musical measure, providing nice dynamics in a genre where it's easy to just coast along. Chris Pureka is an accomplished guitarist not in the shred-sational sense of a Joe Satriani, but a solid acoustic player. Pureka is in fact listed as being responsible for "all acoustic guitars" on this recording. This is most impressive in a world where a record generally contains no less than eleven guys playing acoustic guitar, which inevitably results in a jangle-fest of intense proportions. This girl plays like she owns the instrument totally; you can hear confidence in every string squeak and strum. The frenetic yet controlled riffing of "Silo Song" is an excellent example of this quality guitar work. Technical talent fused with the more abstract skill of writing a good tune makes Driving North an experience for all seasons. Some artists will pick up a zither or a mandolin and call it "roots" because it sounds like something else from another time. Chris Pureka is establishing her own roots with this recording; a whole new plant that is as solid as the ancients, but refreshingly original for our own times. (self-released)

Contact: - Performer Magazine (North-east)

"IndieFocus Interview"

Interview with Chris Pureka

Can you describe that "ah ha!" moment when you went from "hobby-minded" to "career-minded" about your music (or as I've read "out of the bedroom and onto the stage")?

There wasn't a specific moment when I realized was definitely something gradual. I started playing open mics and then I got a couple of gigs and then I got some more gigs until it was clear that I could perform out pretty consistently. In addition to the gradual progression of things I think my collaborations with Alix Olson really forced me to put myself out there and take music more seriously. Recording and touring with Alix gave me the experience and confidence to be able to pursue music on a more professional level. Without that impetus I think it would have happened a lot more slowly.

You seem to capture your physical environment in the musical sounds of your work (much like Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar). Is this a conscious effort and if so, how do you go about achieving this?

So far the great majority of my songwriting is written from my own experience and from my own perspective. A natural extension of that is including my environment in my songwriting. On Driving North I think this is even more pronounced than in my earlier writing and, to a point, I encouraged it as it created a cohesiveness to the record. Honestly, I don't have the most active imagination; I take the images for my songs straight out of my current experience. I wrote the majority of Driving North in Western Mass. and as a result incorporated a lot of country, rural images into those songs.

In addition to your work with Sue Burkhart (lead guitarist of Super Kart) what else has brought on your excellent guitar skills ? (Other Teachers, etc)

As a woman guitar player I felt that it was even more important to me to prove myself as an accomplished guitarist. Women are frequently written off as strummers and storytellers and often not taken seriously as musicians. I didn't want to be someone who "just plays chords" - as it goes. I wanted to be a more creative songwriter. And, the music that I was listening to was extremely important in the development of my playing style. People like Ani Difranco, Peter Mulvey, Pamela Means, Patty Larkin all use the guitar in inventive and refreshing ways (alternate tunings, percussive techniques, different picking styles). Listening to their music or seeing a live show made me want to be a more competent and inventive guitar player. I do also think that my guitar teacher Sue Burkhart was an important influence. She is an outstanding guitarist and I think it was inspiring to have a female role model.

You have mentioned several of your musical influences in other interviews (Melissa Ferrick, Pamela Means, Peter Mulvey, Counting Crows. Ani Difranco, Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Beatles) What is it about them that have struck a chord (no pun intended) with you?

Yes, all those groups that you mention are or were at some point favorites/influences of mine. I think it is really hard to say generally why you like what you like. As I mentioned, one of the ways that I am won over by an artist is their musicianship but I also pay a lot of attention to lyrics. I'm not impressed with lyrics that sound like they were just what came to mind or what rhymed with the previous phrase. I like intelligent lyrics that say something different or say something in a new way. I want the impression that the artist was actually thinking about what they were writing down. And I go through phases where I am focusing more on lyrics or more on guitar. Lately I am on an alt country/Americana kick - Ryan Adams, Gillian Welch and Patty Griffin are some of my favorite musicians right now and it seems that I am taking on a new appreciation for simpler songwriting.

Who are some of your life influences?

Alix Olson was and continues to be an extremely important influence for me. (For those of you who don't know, she is a nationally touring political feminist spoken word poet). We became friends when I was in college because I was dating one of her best friends. She had just started performing her poetry then. I got to see her struggle and transformation from an open mic-er to slam poet to professional touring performer. That was very inspiring to bear witness to and then later to be a part of. Alix also believed in my music enough to ask me to write music for and perform several pieces on both of her albums and brought me on her first nation wide tour in the summer of 2001. Her art, friendship and support have been incredibly influential. Another important personal influence for me was another performer, Cadence Carroll, who I met when I was 15 because she worked at my high school. I had just started learning to play guitar. She took me to my first open mics and introduced me to the folk scene in my area and gave me my first Ani (Difranco) tape. She was an important role model.

You're known and respected for your work with the amazing spoken-word artist Alix Olson. What are some considerations (tempo, climax, etc) when performing live with a spoken-word artist versus a singer?

There are many approaches you can take to performing back-up for spoken word. In general, you want to start with a repetitive, percussive riff or chord progression to keep rhythm and then try to elaborate on that idea to make the piece more interesting. You can either take advantage of existing dramatic sections in the poem or decide on parts that should be more climactic and highlight and embellish them using the music. Alternatively, as in a couple of the pieces that I play with Alix, you can repeat a phrase or section of the poem to create more of a verse/chorus feel. On other pieces it works better if the music serves to set the background tone of the piece and to be decorative. In all cases, the goal is to keep the words first and foremost and to merely accent them with music.

As you may know, we'll be featuring your label, Faux Pas Productions, in this Edition as well (August 2004). Please describe your relationship with this group.

My management and booking is all done by Faux Pas Productions and I give the company the highest recommendation. Faux Pas deals exclusively with independent artists and puts the artists first. I especially like that artists can retain whatever amount of control they want. I can be involved in as much or as little of the booking/negotiating process as I want and that makes me feel very comfortable. Christen Greene, founder of Faux Pas Productions, has a really solid work ethic and really believes in and supports my music. I think of it less as a business relationship and more as a collaboration.

At the end of the day, what do you hope that people say about you as an artist and as a person?

I am glad that you asked this, because it is really important to me. I think my ultimate goal in music is to be respected by my peers and my audience. I want to be known as a talented musician but also as a good, honest person, and someone that people like working with. As in any industry, on a day to day basis you encounter a lot of people you wouldn't want to work with again and also a lot of good, honest people. I hope that I can establish myself among the latter.

Chris graciously consented to an email-based interview with IndieFocus in August 2004. Our thanks go out to her for her willingness to share her time and energy. -

"Collected Sounds review"

a Review by Amy (Producer of Collected Sounds)

OK the first song's intro sounds almost exactly like "Buildings and Bridges" by Ani DiFranco, but luckily once the voice hits we are relieved that this is not just another Ani Clone.

Though I would go so far as to say that if you like Ani you'll probably dig this recording. In fact, fans of Melissa Ferrick, Melissa Etheridge, and Tina Schlieske ought to check out Chris Pureka as well.

Her voice is gutsy and powerful but at the same time, comforting. It's got a very appealing whisky sound to it, which is especially present on the slower songs. Her guitar prowess shows on tracks like the instrumental "Reprieve."

This is a nice collection of well-written songs with interesting melodies and clever lyrics. This is a good choice whether you want it for background music or to really sit (or lay) down with headphones on, the lyrics in hand and really get into it.

Stand out songs: You know what? I can't even pick one because they're all equally good. OK, gun to my head, if I had to pick a single…."3AM"…no "Porch Songs"…no, "Cynical"…yes…that one…see, it's hard? But that's my final answer. I think.

Just a note: I just lent this CD to a friend at work and by the time she had heard the second song she had already ordered herself a copy. Now she's going crazy waiting for it to show up (I let her borrow mine again so she'll be OK).

Posted on July 28, 2004 - Collected Sounds

" Review"

By Carrie Crespo
Chris Pureka
Driving North

Tomboy Chris Pureka isn't as tough as she looks because when she starts to sing, her voice floods us with her feminine side. Pureka's slight twang points a finger to influences of the Indigo Girls. She happens to be a heavy hitting songwriter, too, telling stories from beginning to end without skimping on details. In Burning Bridges, Pureka recount that dangerous moment when "She leans over and lifts off your glasses and next thing you know you're just tangled and guilty and you've got a head full of liquor and perfume." My only wish was that Pureka was still sixteen to guarantee mainstream stardom.
RATING 4.5 -

"Northeast Performer- Cover/Feature Article"

Autumn is a transitional time, a vivid trip towards the end of the year that brings people from all points in all areas of the globe to the Northeast region. These travelers coast up and down otherwise nondescript highways simply to see the colorful byproduct of the changing seasons.

Singer-songwriter Chris Pureka understands.

“Fall is my favorite season,” she states from under the frayed brim of her Camel baseball cap, and cracks a smile that makes it seem like she just got a little happier simply thinking about it. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with her work. Her previous release, 2004’s Driving North, was a crispy-aired collection of songs that sounded like they could come from no place else than Pureka’s native New England.

Similar to other wonders of local nature, Pureka herself could seemingly come from no place else. She grew up in Connecticut, where she became interested in music in her teens, after being “really into sports.” She studied biology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, a Connecticut town where classical music blasts from the tops of its stately Main Street buildings at midnight.

It was in college that Pureka began to find her voice as a performer, although maybe not a singer straight off. “At first, I didn’t really focus on the vocals; there were two instrumental tracks on that record,” she explains, referring to her initial demo EP, which she recorded in June 2001 via a guerilla “lock-the-bedroom-door” recording session. She has experienced a great amount of evolution as an artist in the past five years, but the base remains the same. Her first recording was described by poet Alix Olson as “gritty tunes charged with charm, toe-tapping poetry, and a sexy dose of wit.” The grit, charm, and wit are all still here, coupled with a relatively newfound voice and a prodigious talent on the guitar. While a night at the Iron Horse in her current habitat of Northampton is the closest to a home game that Pureka gets, she receives vast amounts of support in Cambridge’s Harvard Square, where she often challenges capacity fire codes in tightly packed places like Club Passim.

Last spring, Pureka went on a national tour to far off places that most local musicians only visit on vacation, if ever. The singer, her two guitars, and the occasional touring companions have traversed the nation. She regards it as one of the most important things that a performer can invest their time and money in. The key is being a smart investor, which Pureka clearly is.

“Every night you’re not playing is an extra night in a hotel room,” she counsels, rubbing her finger and thumb together in the universal sign for “money.” A model of touring efficiency, Pureka plays as much as possible, cutting down on the idle time. There are no romanticized visions of the road-weary artist taking out her guitar in a lonesome truck-stop to write a tune about how road-weary she might be: “When you do get your alone time, you want to chill out.” While she writes almost exclusively from experience with some of those experiences being of the on-the-road variety, she simply takes things in and brings them home. “Then I hash it out,” she says, always ready for new material.

One thing that immediately strikes a person about Pureka is an air of authenticity and honesty. Relaxed and affable, she puts up no walls and seems genuinely interested in her surroundings and those around her. She asks questions and listens to the answer carefully before offering a response. While her speaking voice is actually quite different from her singing voice, both are colored by a certain quick wit and warm personality that draws people in, whether she is singing or talking.

Audiences are helpless to resist. Often, performers will take the stage concerned about whether or not the audience will enjoy the set. When Pureka takes the stage, the tables seem turned, as if the audience is in a state of default enchantment that borders on delirium; Pureka could instruct them to do anything and they’d probably rush over each other to get it done.

Whether you draw screaming teenaged girls or long-faced goth kids, every artist has a demographic, a section of people that always seem to get it. “I definitely get a lot more women in my audiences,” explains Pureka. She thinks for a second and then elaborates, “I think my crowd is people who are like my age; my kind of life style.” This, of course, is nice — an audience wants to identify with the performer, but there is more to Pureka than a lifestyle or a musical style. “I prefer to have a wider appeal,” she decides, “I don’t want to be pigeonholed.”

The four-letter “F” word comes up a lot. “I tend to not want to be pigeonholed into folk singing,” she says. While “folk” is not a dirty word to Pureka, she can understand how some hear the term. “Some of my music is super-folky, but a lot of what I listen to is indie rock,” she says. And she does look a little not-so-folk at the moment, with her wide-linked chain necklace and necktie section pinned around her wrist. She thinks of her new album, Dryland, and becomes immediately excited for her musical cause. “This new album is like a spread; some songs are super folky ...” she looks around, almost furtively, before continuing with the bomb: “... some songs are kind of more punk rock or indie — I’d like to continue to walk that line,” she opines, concluding, “I really like being involved in both of those communities and I don’t want to pick one.”

Chris Pureka is capable of pulling a big crowd. When asked if she thinks people are coming for the music or more for part of the social scenery of it all, she grimaces. While it is clear that her audience is a thoughtful, listening audience, there is a small percent of non-listeners that would give any artist fits. “I get into some trouble,” she sighs. “I played at some pride festivals, places where people end up coming to something just for a social reason,” she explains. “That is something that I am trying to get away from doing exclusively. I really want to try to play more music venues.”

There is no question that people from all walks of life appreciate Pureka and her music. For starters, she has an independent fan site. Pictures, news, even guitar tablature and lyrics are posted at, a site managed not by Pureka’s manager, best friend, or little sister, but a person named Matt Haven from — where else — Ann Arbor, Michigan. “I wanted to do something to support her music and hopefully encourage others to do the same,” states Haven via email. “The internet is one of the best places to find good new artists,” says the webmaster, who found Pureka through an online message board. “I just wanted to be a part of that for an artist I really love.”

Chris Pureka is appreciative, and has even checked the tablature (“It’s mostly right,” she says). The website isn’t some sort of Times New Roman, busted-link, college computer class project either; is a fully functioning and well-attended website with around 300 posts on the message board from people across the country who share an appreciation for all things Pureka. Many of them are passionate on the subject, even posting their own recorded cover versions of their favorite Pureka songs. That must be what the tablature is for.

Tabbing out a guitar part written by the quick-fingered guitarist cannot be easy. She flies over the fretboard at times, utilizing rich, widely spaced chord voicings, peppered with quick hammer-ons, trills, and other such devices that morph a simple chord into a bona fide guitar part. “I’ve never liked songs with just plain chords,” she muses, working her fingers around an invisible guitar. Her case is full of tricks, including “the selective capo,” which only holds five out of six strings, allowing either the first or sixth string to ring out unaltered. “That probably screws up the tab site,” she smiles mischievously. She also switches from pick to fingerstyle and back again all in the space of the same song, palming the pick like a skilled magician, then reintroducing it into her playing without missing a note.

Chris Pureka plays the guitar with such a loose, natural style that it seems second nature to her — like breathing, only less voluntary. Her connection to her instrument is almost unparalleled by any local acoustic guitarist; she throws her pick through the strings and it’s like wind through autumn branches. She sings and it’s a satisfying crunch and rustle of golden leaves in the same wind. Nature is a pervasive element in her entire body of work, and the art lies in the ability to be totally natural with no artificial preservatives, sweeteners, or anything else from her former life as a biologist. Pureka’s sentiments are her own outlook, formed into poetry and assigned meter and melody.

Pureka does not make up stories; she simply shares her own. “I think in general I write a lot from my immediate situation,” explains the lanky singer, lazily flicking a straw around with her long fingers. “I write a lot about my surroundings.” She thinks for a second, trying to find the right way to put it. As expected, she finds it: “I don’t make things up.”

The unabashed Pureka truly welcomed the world into her life for the first time on Driving North, which she describes as a break-up record. Always helpful, she also provided a roadmap to Driving North in the form of a lyric sheet. She plans to do the same with Dryland, half-joking that she feels a little ripped off when she opens up a compact disc and finds only a one-panel insert with a few credits. She wants to make sure people “get” her music — Pureka wants listeners, not bystanders. “I don’t like playing in bars very much,” she confirms. “It’s not ‘background’ music.”

Perhaps she wouldn’t care if her music wasn’t so sharing, so intensely autobiographical. With Dryland, Pureka is expanding past the living-with-the-breakup record to a simple living record. “I’m going to explore a little more of that territory in my new record,” says Pureka, referring to her new release. “It’s going to be a little more perspective and a little less self-centered,” she explains.

Dryland continues the evolution of Pureka, in both lyrical content and musical arrangement. “Stylistically, it’s a transition ... it makes sense as a follow-up record to the other one,” explains the artist. Described as “more produced,” among other things, it marks the first use of piano on any Pureka recording. While she has expanded some values, she has reined others in as well, creating a record more ornate in some ways, and simpler in others. “It’s evolved to a pretty good place,” she posits. “The new record focuses a little bit more on songwriting as a craft, and not specifically any other thing.” While she has simplified some aspects of her songwriting, the tablature scribes of still need to sharpen up their transcription pencils: “There are a few tunes with pretty complicated guitar parts,” she smiles, still working the straw, forks, knives, spoons, pens — anything available — with her long, nimble fingers.

Recording the new album was a rewarding experience for Pureka. “I definitely think about all the really positive things that happened,” she says, before adding that she will try some things differently for the next one. Instead of using the same core band for the entire record, different players were brought in for different parts, in an effort to create a customized musical fit for each song. While this brings a natural and organic feel to the song, Pureka, ever the perfectionist, still sees the value of rehearsal.

One particularly positive thing was the revisiting of a song she had written in her college days. Pureka took this song from the past, and reworked it, writing a few new parts here, adding a vocal line there, and it has become one of her favorite songs on the new record.

It seems clear that Pureka is not the same artist she was in the early days. Her work is a living example of something she may have studied in the labs back at Wesleyan: a natural system in progress. “I definitely take in what’s happening around me; I tend to notice things like the weather and the season and they work themselves into the songwriting,” says the eternally in-tune Pureka. She is not simply a figurehead for a lifestyle or genre; she is an artist who creates her art almost without thinking.

Natural progress and evolution cannot be halted or faked. Pureka’s evolution as an artist is like a deliciously unending autumn, where the colors just keep getting richer, garnering more and more attention from passersby until everyone is hopelessly intrigued, enchanted, and engaged by the natural New England phenomenon known as Chris Pureka. - C.D. DiGuardia - October 2006

"LA Daily News - Dryland review"

BY BOB STRAUSS, Staff Writer

(Sad Rabbit Music) 3 stars

A New England folkie with a parched, wounded voice and a mean way with an acoustic guitar, Pureka makes romantic depression seem, somehow, invigorating. Her literate, brokenhearted laments dominate the disc, but a lovely, haunting memory piece about her grandma and a cover of Gillian Welch's "Everything Is Free" provide some different shades of blue. Pureka plays the Knitting Factory in Hollywood on Tuesday. - Bob Strauss, LA Daily News


Chimera Vol II (2013)
How I Learned to See in the Dark (2010)
Chimera - E.P. (2009)
Dryland (2006)
Driving North (2004)

Chris Pureka appears on:

Andrea Gibson: Flower Boy (2011)
Andrea Gibson: Yellow Bird (2009)
Judith Avers: Mountain and Shore (2009)
Katie Sawicki: Time Spent Lost (2008)



New year, new city, new beginning: Chris Pureka arrived in Portland, OR on New Years Eve 2012. She had been touring the US for the last 10 years, Europe the last three, performing unadorned, country-inflected folk music at cozy clubs and grand theaters, grassroots festivals and urban block parties. She had crisscrossed the states sharing the stage with such artists as the Lumineers, Sera Cahoone, Y La Bamba, Martin Sexton and Ani DiFranco. But aside from a yearlong stint in Brooklyn, she had never lived anywhere outside her native Northampton, Mass. Shed always loved Portland, though, home to one of the strongest creative communities in America. Within months she had a new house, a new garden, a new dog and new inspiration. She had a new place to call home. From here, she begins the next chapter of a career built on independence and intimacy.

Purekas latest release, Chimera II, is an expression of transition, collecting seven tracks old and new, borrowed and original. Like its predecessor, its both a coda and prelude, an assortment of songs that are vital and revealing and yet dont quite fit within the focus of her full-length albums.

The name refers to the three-headed creature of Greek mythology, part serpent, part lion, part goat. Its also a scientific term that describes an organism derived from two genetically distinct types of cellsa nod toward Purekas background as a research biologist. Both contexts are apt: Chimera II is a grab bag of curiosities.

The two cover songs stand out immediately. Album opener Like a Movie was penned by friend and occasional touring partner Nicole Reynolds and recorded before Purekas departure from Brooklyn. Cover number 2, Play With Fire was Pureka's contribution to a Rolling Stones tribute night at the Iron Horse Music Hall a few years ago; she delivers it here as a scathing indictment. I felt like I had something different to offer, she says of her choice of covers. It doesnt make sense to record a song exactly the same way someone else did.

Pureka wrote Old Photographs as part of a group project inspired by author T Coopers memoir Real Man Adventures. I usually write from my own experience, she says, so having a project where I had specific direction was challenging and rewarding: an interesting opportunity to approach songwriting in a different way. Older compositions Barn Song and Song for November were recorded live at the Grey Eagle in Asheville, NC. The other live song, Broken Clock, was recorded at the famous Daytrotter Studio in southern Illinois during Purekas session there in July 2012.

Shepard is the most recent composition of the bunch. Pureka recorded the intimate album closer on her own rig at home in Portland and it stands apart from the rest of the EP for good reason. It feels super delicate and thats different from most of the stuff Im writing now, she says. The new material is a little more intense a little louder and definitely darker. Happily ensconced in a new city, surrounded by a new community of friends, collaborators and supporters, shes working on her next full-length, set for release later this year.

Available June 25, Chimera II is Purekas fifth release on her own Sad Rabbit Records. Soon after she'll be on the road again with her next headlining tour.

Band Members