FotoFlexer_ChrisFunkHere I am, your ‘umble narrator, enjoying a malted ale (I’m actually holding Etouffe’s) with shredder and dobro plucker extraordinaire Chris Funk of the Decemberists. For some inexplicable reason, he and his side project, Black Prairie were playing a small club opening for the incomparable Rhett Miller on a Saturday night. 74 people tops, some rudely talking over the music. I did my best “Ghost World” Seymour yelling under my breath.

Black Prairie is made up of The Decemberists’ Chris Funk, Nate Query and accordion player Jenny Conlee, singer and violinist Annalisa Tornfelt of Bearfoot and The Woolwines, and guitarist Jon Neufeld of Dolorean and Jackstraw. Their sound is a Portland hodgepodge of bluegrass, klezmer, jazz and Russo-Carpathian folk music. They’re best when they stick to bluegrass and old-timey, but all is enjoyable.

They even backed up Rhett for his encore. After crashing through 20 songs accompanied only by his guitar, Rhett put it into hyper-drive to play 5 or 6 more with the band. Why this man isn’t selling out arenas is a head scratcher. A more talented songwriter and performer you won’t find. And according to her Mims, he’s quite the looker too.

Rhett Miller, Matthew Sweet and Marshall Crenshaw should sue the U.S.A. for not coming out in droves to see them perform. They should all be in the Rock-n-Roll Hoochie Coo Hall of Fame. And they should all perform at a Super Bowl Halftime Show that is not sponsored by a soda producer. That is all!

Ps. Should have the 20 Top CDs of 2012 completed by this weekend. For some reason our editorial board is having trouble finishing their work. I’m looking at you, cross-eyed intern!