The story of Ian Porter is the subject of much debate. Some say he was born in the back room of a biker bar with saw dust on the floor. Others say he was born in the home of a mystic or a saint. The truth can sometimes be hard to separate from lore when dealing with so mysterious a subject.
What we know for certain is Ian was raised in Florida. He was involved in music from an early age and played in his first band, the punk rock group Money Jar, in the late 90’s. After touring some, the band broke up and reformed with a grittier sound and called themselves Understatement.
After graduating from high school in 1999 Ian chose to move to Tennessee to be closer to his father and attend Lee University. He studied music and religion and traveled the country with Lee’s elite Campus Choir while playing guitar in several Christian contemporary and rock projects.
Following college, Ian married his college sweetheart and started a family but music was never far from his mind. He played in his church’s praise and worship band and joined current bandmates Josh Porter and Jake Ketterer in several groups.
Drummer Jake Ketterer approached Ian in early 2010 about playing with Bartlee Norton & 64 Highway. Ian was hesitant at first because much of his musical influence comes from bands like Arcade Fire, Wilco and The Avett Brothers. But after consideration he joined the band and his alt-rock style has heavily influenced the band and contributed to the unique sound they have today.
I prefer to believe that he was born somewhere between heaven and hell in a place of solitude. One thing is certain, music would never be the save after the doc slapped that bare white ass and Ian let out his first cry. Ian was raised in a cabin deep in the swamps of Florida. One grandfather was a preacher; the other was a southern gospel singer. He spent his formidable years dressed in a suite and clip on tie giving sermons from his grandparent’s coffee table and singing the redback hymnal from cover to cover. It was at the age of 13 that a discovery was made that would change his life forever. After spending years trying to look and sound just like Garth Brooks, Ian heard his first punk rock album. It was during the fall of 1995 and the record was Dookie by Green Day. Gone would be the ropers and Brooks and Dunn shirts. In their place were combat boots, leather jackets and spike bracelets. Years of innocence were replaced by rebellion and disaster. Ian helped form and front the punk rock band Money Jar and played many a gig in the bowls of the Lakeland, FL punk scene. Later his band split and reformed as Understatement, a more gritty and hardcore punk band. His decent into the punk rock life did not come without consequences. Separation from his family and the religion he was raised on was inevitable. It was not until he was convinced by his youth pastor to come to a youth conference in Gatlinburg, TN that his life made a drastic change in direction. With tears in his eyes he fell on his knees at the altar while the Lee University Campus Choir sang songs of worship to a God he had all but forgotten. It was one year later he would return to that same youth conference as a member of the Campus Choir of Lee University singing those same songs of Praise.
After graduating from high school in 1999, Ian made his decision to leave behind the heat and humidity of Florida and trade it for the beautiful mountains of East, TN. Many factors went into his decision to move to Cleveland, TN and attend Lee University, not the least of which was the hope of reconnecting with a father who had spent many years living in Chattanooga TN. It was during this time that Ian grew both as a musician and a follower of Christ. Ian started out as guitar major, but quickly realized that he had a different calling. After spending 2 years as a member of the Campus Choir, he decided to take a step back from music and join the school of religion. Ian graduated from college in the spring of 2004 with a BA in Intercultural studies. Shortly after college he married his college sweetheart Marisa and they spent the next few years living and working in Chattanooga. His only musical outlet was playing in the Chattanooga Vineyards worship band and playing in a few side projects with his friends Josh Harris and Jake Ketterer.
Ian met Josh and Jake while attending Lee. They were starting a band in Chattanooga and through a slight twist of fate, the two were attending Church with Ian's dad. Ian showed up for the audition and was quickly welcomed into the fold. Playing many gigs as opening acts for larger Christian artists who came through Chattanooga, they gained a lot of experience playing for large crowds. Later after college, the three played together in a bar band that played around Chattanooga for a couple of years but never gained the notoriety of their earlier bands. It was the Spring of 2010 when Jake called Ian and asked if he would be interested in playing with Bartlee Norton. At first Ian was a little apprehensive. While his musical journey may have started out with the hit country of the 1990s, his musical taste had taken him far from that place. Ian was now finding his influence from the likes of indie rock bands like the Arcade Fire and alternative country acts such as Wilco, The Avett Brothers and Ryan Adams. Ian had developed a measure of musical snobbery to say the least, and pop country did not fit the mold he had set out for himself. It was with much prodding from Jake that Ian let down his guard and decided to give it a chance. This was a fateful day because with Bartlee Ian found a partner with a passion and love for music that matched his own. After spending some time jamming, Ian convinced his close friend Josh Harris to come on board. The rest is country music