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Song Premiere: Black Prairie, 'How Do You Ruin Me'

Black Prairie is a bluegrass band from Portland, Oregon.
Jason Quigley
Courtesy of the artist

Let's start with the familiar. Three fifths of the band Black Prairie are members of The Decemberists. The band's new album is produced by one of music's finest producers, Tucker Martine. And it gets better. In addition to The Decemberists' Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee and Nate Query, Black Prairie also includes Annalisa Tornfelt (violin and voice) and John Neufeld (guitar), both very talented players.

I'd like to think of this band as a living room string band. Not to say they couldn't or should be on the big stage, but the music here is so homey, I want to be on a couch, a backyard or a porch. The songs tell tales — some with lyrics, others just with their banjos, accordion, pump organ, autoharp, lap dulcimer, nyckelharpa, mandolins, violins, cello, cimbalom, guitars Dobro drums and other string things. Annalisa Tornfelt wrote and sings lead on the song "How Do You Ruin Me." The title sums up the sentiment.

In an email, vocalist Annalisa Tornfelt told us about writing the song:

I had been going through writer's block and my confidence as a musician had been ruined. Then one night I came home from a bluegrass jam in my neighborhood, picked up my guitar, and this was the first song that came to me. I remember Chris saying he wanted to make a section really weird, and we were able to launch into chaos. It was like a black hole. We worked on that black hole for quite some time.

A Tear In The Eye Is A Wound In The Heart, the second record by Black Prairie, is out on September 18 on Sugar Hill. The band begins touring from the west to the east in September.

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