On Saturday evening, shortly before showtime, a little bird told me that Black Prairie was slated to be the musical guests on Live Wire!, the Portland-recorded and nationally syndicated public radio variety show. Not only that, but Sallie Ford was to join the quintet as a vocalist for at least one song. With that in mind, my company and I drove over to the Alberta Rose Theatre. Not only were we able to catch the three Black Prairie performances (two separate appearances during the regular broadcast and a one-song encore), but almost all of the show's taping, complete with humorous host Courtenay Hameister, sketch comedy, authors Wendy McClure and Jim Lynch and an ever-present illustrated "clap" sign being held, waved and shaken in the audience's direction to solicit response.
As for Black Prairie, violinist and vocalist Annalisa Tornfelt kicked off the first round of the group's performance with a stark and haunting vocal before the full band launched into full instrumental accompaniment, and wound things down by route of a gypsy jazz-influenced tune. After the band's performance was done, bassist Nate Query and de facto leader Chris Funk spoke with host Hameister about the band's lack of lyrics and it's current collaboration in composing music for and soundtracking Oregon Children's Theater's performance of Storm in the Barn.
After Hamiester recorded a few more drops and author Wendy McClure delivered a monologue that compared Little House on the Prairie to The Hunger Games, Black Prairie returned to the stage. This time Ford was in their company, singing lead on "Mystery" from its forthcoming Record Store day 7-inch release, Singers, Volume 1: Portland. Again Tornfelt also contributed vocals, this time in backing position, and the audience was rather rapturous, becoming much more animated and loudly whooping and hollering in appreciation of Ford. The song is indeed a winner with a strange magic to it, capable of both filling the room and changing the mood.
Following a brief reading and interview with author Jim Lynch about his Seattle themed book, a few more acting sketches and an interlude by the house musicians, Black Prairie returned for a high-energy encore to end the evening.