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Decemberists members form bluegrass side project

Monday, December 21, 2009 – Three members of rock band The Decemberists and a few friends formed bluegrass-based band Black Prairie with the group signing a record deal with Sugar Hill Records.

The Portland, Ore.-based band is comprised of Chris Funk (Dobro, Weissenborn, bouzouki, vocals), Jenny Conlee (accordion/vocals) and Nate Query (bass/cello) of The Decemberists plus Portland acoustic musicians Analisa Tornfelt on fiddle/vocals and John Neufeld on guitar/vocals.

The band's debut album,"Feast of the Hunters' Moon," will be released in early 2010 and features eclectic bluegrass-based takes on 11 original compositions and 2 traditional tunes.

Black Prairie began in early 2007 as an experimental opportunity for the members to play acoustic instrumental music together. Funk said, "The first gatherings were a little daunting as we were all used to the traditional vocal song form. It's been totally open ended from day one, which at times is a little terrifying."

Though the band started off playing mostly instrumentals, they include four vocal numbers on the upcoming release. Black Prairie lists their influences as Clarence White of The Byrds and spaghetti Western composer Enrico Morricone alongside Brian Eno and tango singer Astor Piazzolla.

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