Black Mould

What kind of music would dwarfs listen to during a drinking game in the woods?

The kind Ashland trio Black Mould strives for, its members say.

"We're reincarnated dwarfs," says Nic Mcnamara, vocalist and dual-kick washboard player in the band, which describes its sound as "black hot metal jazz."

"I guess we try to strive for what dwarfs would listen to during a drinking game in the woods, centuries ago," says Mcnamara.

"I agree with that sentiment, whole-heartedly," says James Henderson, vocalist and guitar player.

A big part of that backwoods dwarf sound comes from the accordion played by Claire Burgess. The three band members sat in a circle in a quiet spot in downtown Ashland Thursday to play "Immaculate Infection," an original song for the Tidings Café.

"We make like silly or acoustic metal," says Burgess, "but we want more vocals in our songs."

Black Mould's original songs are written in a collaborative way by the trio.

"Like the song we just performed, we each wrote the lyrics separately and emailed them to each other and decided to use them in the song," says Mcnamara.

With a clear folk and bluegrass sound, the trio creates beautiful melodies with the guitar and accordion laced with a nice tin beat from the dual-kick washboard. Add to that gruff, heavy-metal lyrics that sound like some ancient Druid chant, and you have the unique sound of Black Mould.

The trio got its start last May when, busking on the streets of Ashland, they were asked by MAda Shell Gallery co-owner Amy Godard to play a show at her gallery.

"I really like playing there. I like what they are trying to do with the renegade puppet shows," says Henderson. "We really like Amy — she helped us get our start."

Though Black Mould has many of its own originals, the members enjoy playing cover songs while putting their own spin on them.

"We take really horrible pop songs and cover them, like 'Candyman' by Aqua, some Katy Perry songs and Lady Gaga songs," says Burgess.

"A Cher song was our breakout single," says Mcnamara.

Black Mould plans on busking throughout the summer to pay for its touring. All three musicians live in Ashland and plan touring all over the West Coast.

"I love this area; the Pacific Northwest is where it's at," says Henderson.

With his connections to other bands, Henderson has had a hand in bringing divergent live music to Ashland.

"I like to set up shows," says Henderson. "I really like a diverse type of music coming into this town."

The group already has several digital recordings it's worked on in Mcnamara's home studio and plans unorthodox distribution.

"We have several live recordings, and we've recorded the song we just played," says Henderson. "We're looking at doing more, and we want to do a cassette release sometime this year."

"Our friend Jimmy does them for a lot of bands," says Burgess. "There's this whole new thing lately of cassettes making a weird comeback."

True cassettes don't scratch like CDs, but finding a cassette player might be a challenge for fans.

"We're just trying to stay trendy," says Mcnamara. "Also just to be elitist," jokes Henderson.

Black Mould plans an all-ages show at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at Evo's Coffee Lounge, 376 E. Main St., Ashland.

"I feel like we're so lucky there are so many people that like what we are doing," says Henderson.

Mandy Valencia is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach her at

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