One of the most enigmatic, mysterious, and defiantly anti-commercial groups to emerge from the New York loft scene during the '90s, the No-Neck Blues Band formed in 1992 around a core of multi-instrumentalists who have stubbornly and admirably insisted on individual anonymity. The membership of NNCK (as the group is often abbreviated) solidified at eight in 1994, and remained that way until the year 2000 when one member left to form Excepter. Since that time, the band's roster has remained at seven. Incorporating elements of folk, drone, psychedelia, free jazz, noise, and just about everything else, NNCK have nevertheless carved out a distinctive sound from complementary and disparate component elements.
The collective has also made a name for itself through its live performances. They generally avoid playing in nightclubs and bars (though they toured nationally for the release of Qvaris in 2005), opting instead to perform for free on wharves, in public parks, and on rooftops. They also host shows at their performance space in Harlem. As might be expected, these shows have been shut down frequently by police, but many have been recorded and released on the group's own label, Sound @ One, including 1996's Letters from the Earth, 1997's follow-up Letters from the Serth, and 2001's Birth of Both Worlds.
In early 1999, NNCK toured with guitar legend John Fahey, who dubbed them his favorite new band and signed them to his Revenant label. The resulting album, Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones But Names Will Never Hurt Me, was released in the fall of 2001. Elaborately and lovingly packaged in a wood and plexiglass case, and recorded by Jerry Yester, the album raised the band's profile (and mystique) considerably. Released in 2003, Intonomancy lived up to its predecessor's reputation, providing another set of outstanding -- and optimistic -- musicianship. It was followed by the two-disc live set Parallel Easters in 2004 and the full-length Qvaris in 2005. No Neck Blues Band and Embryo appeared in 2006, with another live set, NNCK Meets the Clear People with Mystery Gypped, showing up in 2007. Clomeim was released in 2008. ~ Jason Nickey & Thom Jurek