HILLFOLK NOIR (album release!)


Hillfolk Noir

Hillfolk Noir’s latest album (their 5th) Junkerpunch, is a sock-it-to-ya collection of songs recorded by the analogue wizard Mike Coykendall (Foghorn Stringband, She and Him, Bright Eyes, Tin Hat Trio, Caleb Klauder) at his Blue Room Studio in Portland, OR. The songs of Junkerpunch are a combination of notebook sessions (songs that lived and breathed by first hitting tape), meets old favorites (tunes that we’ve played live for years). Hillfolk Noir journeyed to Blue Room Studio and stayed in the neighborhood over two weekends – recording and mixing all of the songs live to ½’’ tape. Hillfolk Noir’s chief songwriter, Travis Ward, brought about 25 songs to the table, and 17 ended up making the cut.

Shortly after our second session, with masters in process, 2016 dealt Travis a lightning fast surprise – and a broken hand! Bummer… It took two surgeries and over 9 months to repair the Boxer’s Break, though in Travis’ case the blow was dealt during a basketball game. If there was an up side, it was to give Hillfolk Noir the idea of naming the album “Junkerpunch.” Touring as a band in 2016 with a broken and healing 4th metacarpel, commonly called the Boxer’s Break, was both successful and humbling. A Junkerpunch. A cheap shot!

The spectrum of songs on Junkerpunch range from serious to playful and from story to ambience. Mike created a very relaxing recording environment – an old house with a bunch of vintage gear, navigated by a master of the trade. The songs didn’t hit a computer until mastering, which was done by Timothy Stollenwerk (Fred McDowell, Alan Lomax, Cedric Burnside) at Stereophonic Mastering in Portland, OR.

The album is set to be released in the UK on May 5, 2017 and in the US on May 19, 2017.

Veteran songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Mike Coykendall has been amazingly prolific over the last three decades or so. Currently most well known for his duties as a sideman, producer, and recordist via his work with M Ward, Blitzen Trapper, She & Him, Annalisa Tornfelt, & Tin Hat Trio, to name a few, Coykendall has been making his own unique outsider records since the mid ’80s.

Coykendall (pronounced “Kirk-in-doll) was raised near the dead center of the contiguous 48 states of America in rural Norwich, Kansas. In early high school he began playing drums and guitar and went on to perform in mid-western regional cover bands during the early 80’s. In the mid 80’s he started writing and recording his own songs on cassette 4-track and soon formed Wichita, Kansas based prarie-psych popsters Klyde Konnor. Klyde was a prolific and daring band that self-released approximately nine cassette albums between ’86 and ’91.

In ’91, he moved to San Francisco where he and wife Jill formed The Old Joe Clarks. The Old Joes worked hard and made three nuanced, highly acclaimed Americana-esque records. 1996’s Town of Ten, 1999’s Metal Shed Blues, & 2003’s November.

In ’99 after relocating to Portland, Oregon, Coykendall was able to expand his home studio and begin working other artists. One of those artists was M Ward. Their first collaboration was Ward’s 2003 masterpiece Transfiguration of Vincent. Soon after, Coykendall became a member of Ward’s touring band (also with She & Him), which continues to this day. In 2007 Coykendall finally gave up his day job to focus solely on music. Attrition pays off.

In 2012 Coykendall released his third solo record titled Chasing Away the Dots via Portland’s Fluff & Gravy Records. Dots is a widely varied, moody yet playful record with a lived-in feel and is the perfect vehicle for Coykendall’s unfurnished vocals. This tidy little diamond in the rough also contained guest appearances by some of Coykendall’s musical friends including M Ward, Zooey Deschanel, Eric Earley, & Ben Gibbard.

Translating Dots to a live setting was an undertaking, as the record itself was filled with guest performances and layers of studio psychedelia. Coykendall met that challenge by essentially turning the record inside-out and stripping it down to it’s basic elements. He took to rocking these songs out with an oversized Kay electric guitar while stomping a tin can kick drum and swishing away on a huge set of high-hat cymbals. He began calling it the “rig”, and it stuck. These spontaneous performances are often a thick mix of Coykendall’s own compositions and reinterpretations of other writer’s famous or not-s0-famous gems. Not working from a set list and seemingly testing each situation to see what boundaries can be pushed.

In late 2015 Coykendall will be releasing a new record called Half Past, Present Pending, partnering again with Fluff & Gravy Records. On this record, Coykendall takes the listener closer to the live “rig” performances by mixing excellent new compositions (check out “Hard Landing”) with compositions from his back catalogue (check out “East of Cheney” or “Spacebaker Blues”) in with fresh interpretations of other writers songs (he covers Roger Miller, Syd Barrett, etc) to great effect. What goes around comes around. He plans to be touring the states solo with the “rig” in late 2015 and on into 2016.

Curtis/Sutton & The Scavengers are an Americana/ Folk-Blues band based out of Boise, Idaho. The band’s sound is best described as Country-Folk meets Swamp-Blues. This hodgepodge of gritty-sweet roots music is the brain child of the band’s two distinct songwriters Charlie Sutton and Ryan Curtis. Both songwriters share musical roots from the Midwest that run deep. This is evident in the traditional nature of their sound. Sutton and Curtis have played all over the country in different band settings and Sutton was also featured as a solo act on “A Prairie Home Companion”. Rounding out the band are Eric Schneider, Chelsea Ray and Sam Alkire.

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