Three members of indie group The Decemberists will release an electric bluegrass album under the name Black Prairie on Sugar Hill Records. The band brings together Chris Funk (Dobro, Weissenborn, bazouki, vocals), Jenny Conlee (accordion/vocals) and Nate Query (bass/cello) of The Decemberists, along with Portland acoustic musicians Analisa Tornfelt (fiddle/vocals) and John Neufeld (guitar/vocals). The band’s debut album Feast of the Hunters’ Moon will be released in early 2010, featuring eleven original songs and two traditional tunes.
Conlee and Query played together in the roots-rock jamband Calobo before joining The Decemberists. Black Prairie formed in 2007 “as an experimental opportunity for the members to play some acoustic instrumental music together.”
“The first gatherings were a little daunting as we were all used to the traditional vocal song form,” Funk says. “It’s been totally open ended from day one, which at times is a little terrifying.”
Though the band’s early songs were mostly instrumental, the group’s upcoming album features vocal tunes.
The Decemberists will perform at Auckland, New Zealand’s Mt Smart Stadium on January 15 as part of the Big Day Out festival.