Eilen Jewell laughs when told her label’s president called her a musicologist. But she confirms she and her husband and bandmate, Jason Beek, have a passion for studying American music.
“We really love to uncover the past. It’s almost like digging for buried treasure,” she says. “For me, that’s where music is at. I like all kinds of music as long as there’s the word early in front of it.”
For her new album, Down Hearted Blues, on Signature Sounds, they unearthed 12 vintage gems written or made famous by an array of artists both renowned and obscure, from Willie Dixon and Memphis Minnie to Charles Sheffield and Betty James. Then, like expert stonecutters, they chiseled them into exciting new shapes and forms, honoring history while breathing new life into each discovery.
Fronted by singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Travis Ward, Hillfolk Noir is a trio of neo-traditionalists playing traditional music on traditional instruments for non-traditional times. They call it Junkerdash, and it’s a sound brewed from folk, bluegrass, punk, string-band blues and other influences musical and otherwise. Recommended pairings: Drinking and dancing.
Hillfolk Noir’s touring line up consists of:
Travis Ward: Guitar, suitcase and singing
Alison Ward: Musical saw, washboard, banjo and singing
Mike Waite: Double bass
Hillfolk Noir has performed with Built to Spill, Neko Case, Justin Townes Earle, James McMurtry, Deer Tick, Gourds, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, The Devil Makes Three, Charlie Parr, Dark Dark Dark, Pert Near Sandstone, Horse Feathers, Finn Riggins, Gerald Collier, Caleb Klauder, Train, Glen Phillips, Mike Coykendall, Jesse Dayton, Loudon Wainright III, Rosalie Sorrels, Trampled By Turtles, Elephant Revival, Eilen Jewel, and tons of other great acts that you may or may not have heard of.
For music, complete bio, discography and archival miscellany, visit Hillfolk Noir at hillfolknoir.com. Interact with the band at facebook.com/hillfolknoir, twitter.com/hillfolknoir, and instagram.com/hillfolknoir
Hillfolk Noir is available for interviews. For interview/music requests, high-resolution photos and/or more information, contact Hillffolk Noir at:
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)
“Brilliant, edgy punked-up acoustic hillbilly blues.” — American Roots UK
“Hillfolk Noir have fine-tuned their dark, Depression-era jangly blues to become one of the most incredible bands in [Boise]. They are as honest as they come.” — Seattle Weekly
“I love this.” — Ricky Ross, BBC Radio Scotland
“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
“You guys sound like Johnny Cash on Robitussin.” — Ryan Wissinger, ex-Pengilly’s Saloon bartender and musician.