The charming roots-folk band Black Prairie got its start as an outlet for The Decemberists' Chris Funk and Nate Query, who wanted an outlet for some of their rootsy, mostly instrumental string-band wanderings. As the new group expanded to incorporate more members — including another wayward Decemberist, Jenny Conlee, on accordion — its sound has grown as well, with Annalisa Tornfelt's sweetly countrified vocals and violin lending Black Prairie's songs an added dimension.
As if to flesh out The Decemberists' more stripped-down Tiny Desk appearance from 2011 — only guitarist Chris Funk performed at both shows — Black Prairie played richly layered versions of three cuts from last year's A Tear in the Eye Is a Wound in the Heart. Like so much great folk music, there's a marvelous blend of darkness and light at work here, as the band lends a snappy, lilting quality to songs of alienation and darkness.
- "Dirty River Stomp"
- "Nowhere Massachusetts"
- "Richard Manuel"
Producer: Bob Boilen; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Christopher Parks, Lauren Rock; photo by Ryan Smith/NPR