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Focus On: The Decemberists

The Decemberists may actually be the future of folk music in America. They have managed to do the near impossible by putting a CD on top of the charts despite a plethora of things like mandolins, fiddles, accordions and bazouki. The band - Colin Meloy, Jenny Conlee, Nate Query, John Moen and Chris Funk - revel in creating songs that actually bear more than a passing resemblance to old English folk tunes (despite their top 40 appearances).

The band formed its first breath when lead singer Meloy left Montana for the greener pastures of Portland, Oregon. There, he joined forces with Conlee, Query and Funk and they scraped together money for a demo. From early trimuph to CDs on Kill Rock Stars and now Capitol, The Decemberists have had a steady upwards trajectory.

In May 2011, it was announced that Conlee was diagnosed with breast cancer and would be forced to sit out most of the tour in support of 'The King is Dead' - a CD that entered the Billboard Hot 200 at #1. For this live performance at the 2011 Newport Folk Festival, Sara Watkins (late of Nickel Creek), ably added fiddle and vocal harmonies. The concert was recorded as part of NPR Music's coverage of the event.

Click here to hear the Decemberists live at Newport

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