Portland’s Black Prairie Offers Debut Album

Sugar Hill Records is proud to announce the upcoming release of Feast of the Hunters’ Moon, the debut album from Portland, Oregon-based Black Prairie. Featuring three-fifths of The Decemberists and two of the city’s finest folk stylists, the heavily acoustic debut was produced by Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Death Cab for Cutie) and embodies the rich sonic landscape of the Portland music scene while integrating the diverse backgrounds of its members. As described by dobroist Chris Funk, the band’s sound “bridges the music of Clarence White and Ennio Morricone” in a way that defies genre characterization.

Decemberists guitarist Funk and bassist Nate Query hatched the plan to start a primarily instrumental string band while on the road.  Funk began to spend time playing the square-necked Dobro guitar, and the pair recruited fellow Decemberist Jenny Conlee to play accordion.  Portland musicians Annalisa Tornfelt and Jon Neufeld then filled out the ranks on violin and guitar, respectively.

Black Prairie's songs consist mostly of instrumentals; their arrangements draw from bluegrass and old-time string band traditions, while Conlee’s accordion and Tornfelt’s violin instill klezmer and gypsy elements to the band’s unique and vibrant sound. The quintet sometimes takes an almost-classical approach to composition, with songs containing multiple movements that ebb and flow in a way that differs greatly from traditional pop or bluegrass structure.  The band decided it would be a shame not to make use of Tornfelt’s vocal ability, so she sings on a handful of tracks.
The thirteen album tracks include mostly original compositions by the five band members, with a smattering of traditional material intertwined throughout.  “All my weird songs have finally found a home in this group,” laughs guitarist Neufeld.  Sugar Hill Records will release Feast of the Hunters’ Moon on April 6, 2010.
The band will play select club dates and festivals through the fall of 2010, including:
February 27 - Noise Pop Festival San Francisco, CA
April 1 - The Woods, Portland, OR
April 2 - Sam Bonds Garage, Eugene, OR
April 3 - Tractor Tavern, Seattle, WA
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