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MP3 Hillfolk Noir - Skinny Mammy's Revenge

A swamp-shack hillbilly album that captures this bands singular sound, dubbed "Junkerdash"; the album was recorded live around one microphone straight to a Nagra tape machine , "session style," at the Gage Street Market in Boise, Idaho.

20 MP3 Songs in this album (58:02) !
Related styles: Folk: Urban Folk, Blues: Country Blues, Type: Lo-Fi

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Filtered through a half-century of folk, country and rock ‘n’ roll, and fed by family history and an affinity for acoustic mountain music, medicine show culture and Depression-era string-band blues, Hillfolk Noir’s peculiar roots gumbo is, like the carnival midway, at once inviting and foreboding. Look no further than 2008’s "Diggin’ Songs" — a concept album of toe-tapping songs about grave matters — for proof.


Travis and Ali Ward, the husband-and-wife half of Hillfolk Noir’s touring quartet (the Hillfolk handle is also applied when Travis performs solo or leads a duo or trio), grew up in Sandpoint, Idaho, a panhandle county seat near the Canadian border where ghostly echoes of the region’s settlers reverberate off the walls of the valley. ______________________________________________________________

Though the history of their native soil informs Hillfolk Noir’s music, it wasn’t until Travis and Ali had moved to Boise independent of each other that they met. “Ali was playing gigs as a folk singer-songwriter at local coffee shops, and I was playing electric bass in local bands,” Travis says. “After a long day of work at Gernika (a local pub), I went to a nearby bar to play ping-pong and have a beer. It was here that our mutual friend, Skully, introduced Ali and I. We quickly hit it off and realized that we grew up in the same small Northern Idaho town. We soon started writing songs and performing together, got married, had three kids and made some records. And here we are.”


Before Hillfolk Noir, Travis played in a variety of bands reflecting his eclectic tastes — indie rock, roots rock, old-fashioned folk, country blues, old-time, singer-songwriter — and as he moved forward with his own music, he looked further and further into the past.

“I was around music a lot when I was young,” he says. “My grandpa was a multi-instrumentalist, so I often heard him playing polkas on the accordion or singing ballads and playing harmonica. My mom played the drums in rock ‘n’ roll bands and toted me along to gigs and rehearsals.

“I grew up listening to my parents’ records: Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, old country and rock. As an adolescent, I loved only hard and heavy music: The Melvins, The Accused, Treepeople, NoMeansNo. Nowadays, I listen to everything I can, but my favorite music seems to be old-time blues, country and ragtime. The first time I heard a really old recording of a really great song, I was hooked. I love the sounds of the instruments, the uniqueness of the recordings, and most of all, I like the songs and the language.”


Hillfolk Noir’s contribution to this century-old language has been described as a dark, country-tinged, swampy-swingin’, hillbilly-delta-blues-ragtime word machine. Acoustic death-folk works, too. Or Junkerdash, the band’s invented name for its singular sound.


“We make the music for ourselves because we love it; we are having a great time and hopefully that is infectious,” Travis says. “Music, especially live music, can be such a powerful experience for all kinds of people. Live music is a shared experience – a series of moments that can really change a person’s day or outlook. That being said, our music seems to strike an emotional chord with many people – perhaps because to pull off this really acoustic old-time sound, we sing and play our guts out. Every song.”


Hillfolk Noir has recently (Dec, 2010) released two new records — both on-location field recordings "Live at the Old Idaho Penitentiary" is a multi-track recording of an eight-piece band performing live in an old prison block at the historical Old Idaho Penitentiary. "Skinny Mammy’s Revenge" is a series of recordings made in living rooms and cabins. All of the songs were recorded around a single microphone to analog tape.


Other notable projects include the aforementioned "Diggin’ Songs," the score to a film ("Ibid") by Frozen River director/Oscar nominee Heather Rae and Russell Friedenberg, and a monthly DVD video subscription project with the Trey McIntyre Project contemporary dance troupe (https://www.tradebit.com


Hillfolk Noir has performed with James McMurtry, Built to Spill, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Gerald Collier, Heroes and Villains, Train, Jesse Dayton, the Dusty 45s, Neva Dinova, Neko Case, Justin Townes Earle, Deer Tick, Gourds, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and tons of other great acts that you may or may not have heard of. ______________________________________________________________

A sampling of accolades for Hillfolk Noir:

“If John Steinbeck owned a speakeasy, Hillfolk Noir would be the house band.”

— John Doe (X, The Knitters)


“Whether it’s the tolling bells of deathbed fevers, the loping swagger of a stranger in town walking down Main Street as every gunslinger in town stops and stares, or the wagon trains of woe rolling past desolate, arid, landscapes on a breeze of radiation, Ward and his Hillfolkers flow through the last wisps of a world gone very wrong for the protagonist with crooked, receding grins at reapers grim and eager as they transcend the https://www.tradebit.comntry hokum with a full-tilt-off-kilter medicine show of captivating enchantment that should diffuse beyond the canyons, badlands and sad-swaying hillsides of Idaho.” — Medicine Stu, Maverick Magazine

“Country rock, then more folksy, then something that sounds like Tom Waits, and then something that could have come out of late-''60s San Francisco.” — Rob Christensen, Tape Op


“Too authentic to be considered alt anything. Ward is an evocative, charismatic singer-songwriter who embraces diverse shards of Americana. Time warped kaleidoscopes —sparse, historically reverent and pretty terrific.” — Michael Deeds, Idaho Statesman


“Much better than the crap on the radio.” — Amy Garrett, Boise Weekly


“You guys sound like Johnny Cash on Robitussin.” — Ryan, Pengilly’s Saloon bartender

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