photograph by Tarina Westlund
Justin Ringle is a rural Idaho native who fronts Horse Feathers, a band from Portland, Oregon. This group of musicians honors traditional music and while carefully renovating the form to fit their perspective as twenty-first century artists and citizens. They have just released their third record, Thistled Spring, to great reviews, stopping by NPR’s World Cafe to talk about the role of rural place in their music, and, more broadly, the influence of the pacific northwest in their work. Mr. Ringle and company have received many accolades for their sound–honest, yet not overcome by sentimentality or nostalgia.
It’s interesting to hear a folk group composed of cello, violin, guitar and banjo discuss how the vibrant 1990’s indie/punk scene in the northwest opened them up to first considering how the arts related to ideas of place. As perhaps the best articulation of this–and of how this younger generation of rural artists are considering the interplay between traditional, local arts and their urban counterparts–it’s interesting to note that this gorgeous, meditative record is being released by the hugely influential northwest independent label Kill Rock Stars, the folks responsible for Elliott Smith, Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney and The Thermals.
Here’s Horse Feathers’ video for “Belly of June,” from their latest record: