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Black Prairie: Tiny Desk Concert

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.

Set List

  • "Dirty River Stomp"
  • "Nowhere Massachusetts"
  • "Richard Manuel"
  • Credits

    Producer: Bob Boilen; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Christopher Parks, Lauren Rock; photo by Ryan Smith/NPR

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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