Summer is full on busy. And we can’t complain. We had a week and a half tour in Wales and Ireland at the beginning of June. We were hired for two festivals, and played some gigs around Ireland between the two. Foghorn Stringband convened at Fire in the Mountain, a small festival held on a farm in the mountains of Wales out near Aberystwyth. Sammy and Nadine were wrapping up a UK tour with Joel Savoy and Jesse Lege, their last gig of the tour at Fire in the Mountain. It was nice to overlap, and we all joined on stage for the last set. Fire in the Mountain is a musically eclectic festival and the setting has a dear, rustic, old world feel. A barnyard is the site of the main stage, a timber frame structure, surrounded by old stone barns. Little bars serving cocktails and local beer and cider nestle inside the barns. That cider is powerful mystical, and one must take care not to overdo! Attendees and bands alike camped in canvas Bell tents by the river in a little valley surrounded by forest and sheep pastures, reminiscent of the hobbit’s Shire. The weather was gorgeous all weekend, and met up with some old pals, and enjoyed playing tunes in camp, as well a culminating session in the middle of the river. Keeping cool.
We bid farewell to Jesse and Joel, (we’ve just be seen them again in the NW) and carried on the next day to Liverpool to rest before the next leg of our journey. A return to clean laundry and showers and real beds was welcome, and our good friends, the Southerns kept drinks in our hands, and kept us well fed. We flew off to Dublin the next day, and drove up to Cookstown in Northern Ireland to play a house concert at the handmade home and barn known as the Red Room. Sharon and Arne have become our friends over the years, and we always enjoy a chance to visit and share a wee glass.
Our show at the Cobblestone in Dublin brought a warm crowd and there was good craic in the house that night. It was packed full, and while slightly too warm and too crowded, I think people sort of like that on some level. Brings out the craic even more when people are all shoved together in a warm room. Our friends from I Draw Slow were in attendance, as was our fiddler friend from Montana, Mr. Ron Cane. I got proposed to by a fella in the bar, (whose line was, “a face without freckles is like a sky without stars”) and learned a few new dirty jokes. Enjoyed my first perfect pint of Guinness of the trip. All was well.
Headford and Campbell’s pub was our next stop. The band hadn’t been there since their very first visit to Ireland in 2003. So we were a bit overdue. But they welcomed us back, and Willie still had a Foghorn poster from that first show hung in the bar. And Mouse, our attentive sound man, was the very same who had done sound for the guys in 2003. (Mouse later in the evening entertained us with his own talents – he’s a gorgeous singer!) And Sandy, well she was still there, and it was good to finally meet her after hearing the tales. The boys had wistfully described a parting view of her leaning against the wall, beautiful with torn jeans and a cigarette as they drove away. She’s still got it, and she helps with booking at Campbell’s. Ah Sandy. She taught them how to pour their first pint after all. We had a full house for the show, and afterwards, the usual Thursday session commenced and I don’t think we made it home to our beds until 3 in the morning! It was a lovely session for many reasons. Many talented musicians were present, and all took turns singing songs, and playing tunes. But really anything goes… from Ray Charles to a slow traditional ballad.
Friday arrived and we drove up to Westport to burrow in for the weekend at the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival. We housed central at the Wyatt Hotel in the the middle of town, and everything was walking distance. The festival is centered around small performances and sessions in pubs around town, and with a simple schedule, there is plenty of time to be part of things. We performed Friday night in a three-band bill in the protestant church in town, a large old stone church with high ceilings with elegant paintings and carvings all about. All the Saints surrounded us from above while we played through our set. We trailed up the hill after the show, and settled right in to a session outside of our hotel bar. Folks gathered round and enjoyed the music until the wee hours. Saturday afternoon, we performed in a Mystery Show hosted by the Red Room in the back of Malloy’s pub in the Yard Bar, a glass-ceilinged room. The show was so fun, and all acoustic. More sessions followed that afternoon and evening. And again, it was wee hours before we hit our beds. Which made waking up the next morning for the gospel set at the protestant church, a bit of a feat. But we all managed it fine, and got the vocal chords working in time for the all-acoustic set. The church was full up, which, for a protestant church in the west of Ireland, was a bit outside the norm, and the priest didn’t miss the opportunity to slip in a few words, prayers and a bit of scripture. Our gospel set was in lieu of the normal church service after all. It was glorious to sing at the top of our lungs in that big church hall. The acoustics were lovely. Father Val had some remarkably thoughtful things to say about music. I wish I’d written it down, but it was something to the effect of music being a blessing to us, and it helps us in many ways we cannot define, not the least of which is the emotional release. And whether the words strike us or not, often simply the melody will. As he spoke of all the musical instruments in the bible, he remarked at how we were missing a ram’s horn, and might consider adding one to our band!
We returned to our homes in the NW, and Yukon respectively, and Caleb and myself packed up and shot straight out to Weiser for a week of unplugging in that beloved dry dusty field called Stickerville. Sammy and Nadine were home in the Yukon as well as teaching at a music camp to the north of Whitehorse. Then it was the Great Big Fais Do Do, a dance and music festival in Portland that Caleb has put on now for the third year in a row. It was a big success, and here’s to the growth of it and many more years! Jesse Lege, Joel Savoy, and Kelli Jones were up from Louisiana to play Cajun music.
Foghorn met up in early July for a great little tour out in Colorado where we played at High Mountain Hayfever in Westcliffe, and the Rocky Mountain Old Time Festival in Berthoud, CO. We performed shows in Gunnison at the I-Bar Ranch as well as a nice little backyard concert in Lafayette, CO. From there we all flew back to the NW, and met up at my folks’ farm for a nice little weekend gathering of close friends. We camped and cooked and played a lot of tunes.
Looking forward, we have lots coming up. The Caleb Klauder Country Band is headed to the Calgary Folk Festival this coming weekend, and then out to Maine for the Ossippee Valley Music Festival. They’ll also be in Boston, MA, Ridgefield, CT, and Hudson, NY so check out calebklauder.com for more details.
Foghorn will be in and around Portland for Pickathon in early August. Then in mid-August, we’re off to Ireland for the second time this year! Hope you’re having a great summer, and we hope to see you out there on the road! -Reeb
Our recent tour took us to what we are calling the Mid-Atlantic, and it went well, don’t I swear it! We came home with money in our pockets and a pack of good memories. We began in Baltimore with a sold-out house concert on a hot, muggy night that felt like the dead of summer in the Maritime NW, mere spring to those East Coasters. The following night in Delaware brought us to the Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music in Newark. They hadn’t seen the band for about ten years, and so, saw live and in person the current lineup. We spoke to many nice folks that evening who were long time fans of the band. We got to stay with and visit our friend Rafe Stefanini that night, and he also joined us on stage with his banjo.
photo by Kathleen Tannian Sheehan
The following day, we headed for Lemont, PA to play on the local radio station, and when Nadine opened up the bass case, she found the bridge collapsed, and the tailpiece in pieces. Needless to say, there was no time to do anything about it then, and we played on the radio bass-less. But within an hour’s time, Caleb and Nadine had jumped to action, and rounded up borrowed basses for that night, and the following night’s gigs, and had connected with someone who could repair our bass the next day. All was well. As for Lemont, PA, Acoustic Brew is a concert series held in a beautiful space that is a dance and yoga studio by day. True to its name, the show is all acoustic, and I for one really enjoy that style of performing more than any other, rare though it is. It’s freeing to sing at the top of the lungs without thought of a microphone. All the volunteers there make this great concert series possible. And we were kindly hosted by a couple of the volunteers in their beautiful home. The next night’s show was in Berryville, VA at the Barns of Rose Hill, a lovely venue inside of a restored barn. The site was gifted to the City of Berryville by a benefactor, and now is a place of cultural and musical enrichment for the community.
This was an eventful night, for we met a gentleman named Skip Ashby at the intermission. Skip Ashby is the son of well-known Virginia fiddler, John Ashby. John Ashby’s recordings have had a big influence on Foghorn Stringband’s sound, specifically the three-finger banjo style that was a signature of the early days of Foghorn. Never before had the Foghorn lads heard the old time fiddle music accompanied quite in this way by three-finger style banjo, and that rhythmic sound changed the band, lending to that hard-driving sound that Foghorn became known for. John Ashby started his band, The Free State Ramblers, in the 1930’s, and the band is still going today under Skip’s lead. Skip was a fiddle contest finalist himself in 2005 at Clifftop. There aren’t many bands that have carried on continuously for over 80 years! They mostly play around Fauquier County.
Skip was kind enough to invite us by the Ashby home place the next day, and serendipitously, we had the night off, so had plenty of time for a side trip. How fortunate we did since it turned into a rich afternoon I won’t soon forget. After getting up early to get the bass to the shop and repaired, (which took only about 20 minutes at Thomas Wolf bright beautiful high-ceilinged shop, full of curiosities), we arrived at the Ashby residence in the afternoon. The old farmhouse sits thoughtfully placed on a gentle grassy ridge overlooking pastures and creeks. Skip and his lovely wife Ann were sitting on the porch with Richard Ashby, who, incidentally, played guitar on many of the Ashby recordings, thus is one of my heroes. Then it was a matter of mutual admiration as the afternoon played out. The four of us sat, incredulous to be sitting on the very porch that had hosted the music of our hero John Ashby, and all who played with him. Family and friends rolled up one by one joining the cheerful group, as happy to be visited by the likes of us as we were to visit with them. Among them was David McLaughlin of the Johnson Mountain Boys, who took time away from his busy schedule as a Justice of the Peace, marrying folks at all hours of the day, to visit with us. When he left us around dusk, he still had at least two weddings to perform that night! It was clear that the spirit of the place was founded in the joy of life and music, humbly, and with kindness and a value of family and community. We visited, laughed and played tunes all afternoon until the dusk came on. No one wanted it to end. Gradually the friends and family drifted away to home and dinner and we finally let the Ashbys alone to eat dinner and we went on our way after fond goodbyes. Our friends from Baltimore had lent us their farmhouse for the night, and we enjoyed a peaceful night off in the country.
The next day we traveled to Bristol, VA, or is it TN? Well, both if you’re in the right part of town. We arrived at the Birthplace of County Music Museum to be part of the first reincarnation of the old radio show Farm and Fun Time, a live show devoted to music and farming. I can hardly imagine a more splendid partnership! Back in the 40’s the show came on multiple times daily, once at morning coffee break time, and again at lunch time when farmers would come in from the fields. The show gave a short farm report of conditions, weather, and tips, and also featured many of the finest bluegrass and old-time artists of the period. It was a companion for farming folks; a friend over the airwaves. And now it is being revived! Farm and Fun Time will come out monthly, and will have live music from traveling bands, stories, recipes, and tips, as well as news from the farming world. It’s a thing of beauty folks, and luckily, you can tune in from anywhere in the world by streaming radiobristol.com. Foghorn was happy to be part of the maiden voyage, along with Bill and the Bells, host Kris Truelson, banjo player Corbin Hayslett, and the farm folks that are devoted to health and sustainability in the local farming community who will be participating in this great show. The excitement in the crowd was palpable that night and I have a feeling the show will become a staple.
Now, that’s not all that Bristol had for us: The next morning we found ourselves at the Pointer Brand factory. Anyone who knows Pointer Brand knows that they have been in the business of creating durable, American-made workwear for over 100 years. Not only did we get a tour of the building: (a gorgeous old brick building with high ceilings, lots of big windows, and expansive work spaces that have probably not changed much since the place was founded in 1913 by founder, Mr. L.C. King) but we were given a smokin’ deal on some garments we bought there… all of us came away with new jackets and overalls. The business is four generations old now, each time being passed down to the son who was interested enough to buy the place from his father and carry on. They still do things the old way at LC King, sporting a unique business model that is unusually ethical compared to the status quo here in our country. Many workers there have been happily employed for generations. They take pride in their process, and like to keep things simple, not compromising quality for growth. They believe that success is good worker conditions and pay, a continuation of the business, and beyond that they are not grossly profit driven as many businesses are. Heck, they even turned down a contract with Walmart, knowing that that is exactly the kind of outfit that destroyed mom and pop businesses all across our country, especially since the 90’s when NAFTA came into existence, making it easier for businesses of that type to outsource labor to other countries, where manufacturing was cheaper, taking away jobs and revenue from our communities. Most of their designs have never been changed, and it seems people can really rely on the quality of these garments, made from materials are sourced from close by. So look out, next time you see us, we may be wearing Pointer Brand gear, and looking handsome in it too I daresay.
We carried on to Franklin, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville for a fun night of Merlefest prep at Music City Roots. If you aren’t familiar, Music City Roots is a live-streamed audio-video show that happens every Wednesday night. There are always several musical acts with interludes of live ads and interviews with the musicians. It’s always a lot of fun, and a great opportunity to meet and hang with other musicians out on tour & hear music. The folks at MCR are so nice and always hospitable. If you missed the show check out the MCR archives online.
We drove on to Boone, NC the next day, with a lengthy interlude in Knoxville to visit some old pals, and grill dinner in their backyard. We arrived late in Boone, in just enough time for a night’s sleep before our marathon of three sets in a row at Merlefest, starting at 10:45am! We played on the Traditional Stage, The Hillside Stage, and then the Watson Stage with about an hour in between each set to chat with fans, and get ourselves to the next location. I must say, it wasn’t hard to stay warmed up, when we were finished, we could relax and know that our work was done. It was a hot, sunny day, hitting nearly 90 degrees I think. We ran into many old friends and made many new ones, and thanks to Steve and Merlefest for having us there after all these years! By the end of the night, as Old Crow blasted off of the main stage up we found ourselves invited to a shrimp boil up the hill, and after we’d had our fill, we pulled out the instruments to repay the cook in tunes, and played late into the night, at least until we made our way into the cook’s mirrored bus full of handmade guitars and conversations.
Photo by Pixels on Paper
Great to hang out with Philip and Malachi from Ear Trumpet Lab at MerleFest
Our Saturday night was spent at the Floyd Country Store in Floyd, VA. In all my nostalgic renderings of a rural Saturday night dance, the type of dance that used to occur in my grandparents’ time in rural Washington State, but that I wouldn’t have the joy to grow up with myself; somehow foolishly traded off at some point, probably with the advent of the television… here it was in real life in Floyd, VA. As we ate a delicious home cooked dinner from the deli, we watched as store employees in the homey general store cleared carts of merchandise, putting rows of chairs in their place, leaving a large open space in front of the stage for dancing. The place slowly packed out with folks of all ages sitting patiently in their chairs, waiting for the show to begin. Many had marked seats with their dancing shoes well before the show. As soon the the taters were sung out by the fiddle, folks hopped to the floor, and the dancing didn’t stop ’til the last note was rung. It was a swell exchange, and I think audience and musician alike were equally fed by the night’s event. We had the pleasure of being joined on stage by Mr. Travis Stuart accompanying us on the banjo for most of the set. It was a rare moment, our dance music being answered with dance. Many times we perform a concert and people politely sit and listen in seats, and that’s all well and good, we are curators of this old music in a sense… but to have it serve its true purpose put us all in high spirits.
Folks were in fine fettle, and mostly stuck around all three hours of the night, trickling out slowly as it got late. I watched as one older lady, dressed in a purple jacket, with a perfect hairdo, dyed, curled and hair-sprayed, waved goodbye to her friend across the room with a wagging wrist and two fingers, the rest of her hand clutched around a hankie, a motion that reminded me of my dear great aunts who always seemed to have a pretty hankie tucked into their watchband. The crowd showed a mix of ages from the smallest children running about the floor between dancers, to the old folks, who by the way, were still dancing all night! It’s a pretty special scene there at the Floyd Country Store, and the dancing and music has carried on there since the time of our fiddlin’ heroes. For those folks, it isn’t a novelty, but an ordinary way of life. And I wish more places were the same. To gather socially around music and dance that way seems so joyful and nourishing to people. Folks of all walks of life, and all sorts of backgrounds gather together for a common experience.
We made it to DC at the end of the tour, and were greeted by our most beloved friend and booking agent, Martha, and her family. She puts on a concert series at Hill Center, an old Naval Hospital, now an arts and event space. The free show was meant to be outdoors on the lawn, gingham and picnics and all, but alas, it was a rainy day, so we were moved inside to the hall, and folks crowded in as best they could. It was a great end to an incredible tour, and we are so lucky to have such memorable travels, meet so many good folks, and get to share this music where we go. Thanks to all the folks that support live music, and we’ll try and come back soon!
For the next few weeks, Sammy and Nadine will be hanging and teaching in the Yukon as well as building a tiki bar, gardening, certainly cooking up some good grub, and doing some touring with Joel Savoy and Jesse Lege in the UK in late May. Caleb and Reeb will be doing some of the same: iced tea in the backyard, cooking, gardening (if my seedlings are still living), visiting friends and family, working on projects of the home, as well as doing some touring with the Caleb Klauder Country Band, both on a little NW run through the San Juans, Vancouver BC, & Edison, WA; and later in May, Alaska!!! Foghorn will next be reconvening in the great land of Wales in early June at the Fire in the Mountain Festival, and will carry on to visit its splendid neighbor, Ireland, for the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival as well as some shows around the country. Enjoy the Spring y’all!
Posted on May 13, 2016.
We’re heading out on tour!
It’s gonna be a great one, taking us to MerleFest, Music City Roots, Floyd Country Store, Hill Center in DC and many more! Make sure to check our schedule for all the details!
And we’ll have our newly released LP of Devil in the Seat! If you can’t buy it at one of our shows, just visit Different Folk Records and they’ll ship you one!
Sammy’s fiddle DVDs have been reissued! New smaller packaging, same tunes! Get them at Elderly Instruments or when we’re on tour starting today!
Our old saying, “The places old time music takes ya!” (spoken with a shake of the head), was taken to new heights the last weekend of March when we found ourselves performing inside of a snow castle on a frozen lake in Yellowknife, NWT, a city and province in Canada that have seven official languages. It seems anything is possible there, as all weekend we were surrounded by activity: dog sled races, cross country skiing, snowmobiles, biplanes, helicopters, hockey and curling tournaments; people were out and about in the “spring” weather.
Bundled in full winter attire, we performed Friday afternoon, and again Saturday night in the Grand Ice Ballroom for the Royal Ball, the culminating event of the month-long festival. The crowd was alight that magical evening, and they danced and sang along, and we felt the love. As we played, we watched from the semi-heated stage (just enough that our fingers weren’t too stiff) as Snowking himself proudly waltzed his wife around the icy dance floor. Snowking is a larger than life character who is often seen from afar wearing a bright yellow coat, has a huge white beard, the most sparklingly handsome blue eyes, and is of good humor, not to mention possesses a clever knack for storytelling and song. He began building snow castles for his children many years ago. Those small “backyard-sized” castles evolved into the annually-built, quite sizable castles like the one we recently spent a great deal of time in. Four to five foot thick hard-packed snow walls, arched hallways and doorways, VIP balcony, translucent glassy ice windows, turrets, flags, ice and snow sculptures, carvings, and accent lighting all make up this grand structure. The best of all though, was…jing-jang-jong…The Ice Slide. We climbed Dead Man’s Stairs to the highest point of the castle, a large turret where one could gaze out across the frozen Great Slave Lake during the day, or gaze at the stars and aurora borealis by night. Then, instead of going back down the stairs: super boring; one could simply hop onto one of the two side-by-side Ice Slides and bomb down a luge-like chute at high speed, right under a snow bridge tunnel, curl out onto the courtyard below, and glide to a stop in front of large gothic ice windows.
The Ice Slide
Then you picked yourself up and sauntered into the ballroom. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Caleb was the fastest among us, gliding the farthest at the bottom of the slide. We also recorded his chilliest X-Man ever at 3 degrees Fahrenheit. After great hesitation, he ventured a perilous X-Man jump on the ice in front of the castle, and landed it without doing the splits, much to his relief.
From the moment that we arrived, to the moment we left, we felt so welcomed by the people of Yellowknife, most especially our new friends on the Snowking crew, and the Aurora Fiddle Society. And we know they have a strong Northern fiddle tradition of their own. They hosted us, fed us, showed us around, chauffeured us, and generally made sure we were taken care of. In return, we performed at the snow castle and taught two days of workshops with the Aurora Fiddle Society, who brought in townspeople, as well as kids from neighboring communities. We taught a string band class, where everyone learned tunes together, and we also broke off into small groups teaching fiddle, guitar, and harmony singing.
Late nights in the castle brought after-show backstage gatherings in the tiny arched snow hallway. I likened it to spending time inside of a beer cooler, only with the beautiful kind of muffled sound that comes from thick snow. Adjacent were a small, greenroom, and Snowking’s office, each lightly heated, each about 6’x6’ rooms with low ceilings, which became gathering places crammed full of people telling stories and talking over cigarettes and drink. Snowking’s office was filled with pictures and notes tacked all over the walls, memorabilia from over the years, and various cross-cut saws hanging up that had been cut in half and handles put on to live on as snow saws. There were yellow coats hanging around on hooks for Snowking security to wear, and wooden benches lining the walls. That was the part of the night where everyone relaxed after the day’s work, and the magic of that little community dazzled a bit more strongly inside those thick snow walls under the northern lights.
We left there a little sad… I think we fell in love a little bit with this community and this great winter event. It just means we will have to return soon and visit the Yellowknifers! Hail Snowking!
We have just finished a 10-day tour of New York, Vermont, and Mass, and though it went by in a flurry, we had a wonderful time meeting new and old friends, experiencing some winter weather, and performing at a couple of festivals for the first time. The tour kicked off February 11th at Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn where we shared the bill with our friends, The Mike & Ruthy Band. Despite cold winds that seemed to blow right through our layers and coats, those hardy New Yorkers ventured out to see the show. We got to catch up with fellow musician friends, cousins, and old pals. We went on with the Mike & Ruthy Band to Albany the next day to perform at The Linda, WAMC’s beautiful performance space. Of course we were a bit sleep deprived that night after staying up talking around Mike & Ruthy’s kitchen table until 5am the night before. That is not the first time that has happened at that kitchen table I am sure. With a fire in the wood stove, and records spinning, it took many hours to get on to sleeping. Nice to catch up with old friends.
The following day, as we made our way to Framingham, Mass to perform at the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, we stopped off in the Hudson Valley to do a video shoot for the OldTone Roots Music Festival. They are beginning promotions for this year’s festival in September. Foghorn will be there! The guys were pro and we filmed a few songs and tunes in a beautiful refurbished (and heated) barn. Keep an eye out for these videos. This will be the second annual OldTone Roots Music Festival, and I’ve a feeling, with the mission behind this festival, that it will become a sought after event for the summer season. The curators of the festival are three friends who have an ear for music that is firmly rooted, yet alive and kicking. I think many people are longing for these kinds of sounds these days with all the commercialized music that is forced upon us all the time. So, come join us there in September!
We had a fantastic weekend at the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival just outside of Boston in Framingham, MASS. From the moment we walked in the door, the festival had a welcoming and friendly air, and folks there really embraced the Foghorn Stringband, despite the fact that we are an old time string band! Ha! We like to dispel the bluegrass vs old time chasm as frequently as possible as these musics are so intertwined, and we love them all. It’s all country music as far as I’m concerned! We felt well-loved and met many new friends and fans. The festival is held in the Sheraton Hotel, and with the winter weather, there was really no reason at all to go outside. We had everything we needed indoors: tunes, food, and our beds. We performed a main stage set, as well as the Sunday night dance to close the festival. We hope to go back there soon! It is a wonderful tribute to the music of Joe Val.
Monday morning came awfully early after staying up til the wee hours playing tunes and visiting with pals at Joe Val, and we had to drive to Provincetown, on the very tip of Cape Cod to play on WOMR Radio. Afterwards, we made our way back down the cape to Orleans, where we were hosted by Dinah who curates the Brick Hill House Concert series. It was snowing and blowing and yet folks trickled in for the evening performance. They were such a warm and receptive audience, and we had a great time putting on a show for them. Tuesday night took us to Northampton, MASS to the Parlor Room at Signature Sounds. This is always a great audience for us. Those folks show the love. Nice to see so many new faces there too. It’s a pleasure to play there. We drove to Burlington, VT the next day for a show at Nectars. The Burlingtonians (is that what you are called?) must have been busy with other things that night, as not so many came out to see us, but those that did made it worthwhile. We stayed with friends on the shores of Lake Champlain, home to many fat squirrels enjoying the winter fare from the multitude of bird feeders hanging outside. The lake didn’t freeze over this year, but we watched ice floats drift by along the shore. Our good buddy and musical collaborator, Joel Savoy showed up a day early for the weekend Spice on Snow Festival in Montpelier, VT that we would all perform at together as Foghorn Stringband, and Cajun Country Revival.
Spice on Snow is in it’s sixth year I believe, and what a sweet festival it is. Perfectly intimate, and everything is right downtown, so it is not hard to decide what to do, as it is all within a few blocks’ walk. We arrived in Montpelier on Thursday, and Foghorn played for the square dance at the Legion Hall right in town. We performed with Jesse Lege and Joel Savoy as Cajun Country Revival for the Friday night cajun dance at City Hall. This is great fun, and there are many iterations: Caleb on drums or mandolin and singing, Sammy on fiddle or guitar, Nadine on bass and singing, Joel on fiddle or electric guitar, Jesse singing and playing accordion, and myself playing triangle or guitar and singing. We all taught a variety of workshops at the Bethany Church during the day on Saturday. Harmony singing, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, string band class, as well as a cajun band class. Then our work was finished, and we spent the evening playing a session at a bar, then watching the Sweetback Sisters perform a concert. The festival culminated with a cajun dance hosted by the Green Mountain Playboys. The Playboys invited Cajun Country Revival on stage later in the night, so we had one last hurrah for the festival. It is always a pleasure to play music with Jesse and Joel, and I’m thankful we keep getting opportunities to do so. Jesse is a powerhouse on the accordion, instantly lifting the music, and his singing cuts straight to the heart. Or grabs you right in the balls, one or the other. Probably both. And Joel’s fiddle playing is energetic and tasty, a powerful sound rhythmically, or when he’s soloing, or when he lends perfectly woven backup to a singer. We enjoy the collaboration whenever it happens. It was a great weekend all around.
And now we are parting ways for a few weeks. Sammy and Nadine go on to play a few gigs in Montreal and Hawaii, and Caleb goes home to dive into some projects in Portland and to teach a week long fiddle residency to Pendleton grade school students. I am heading out to Central Washington to visit family and await the arrival of my new nephew! We will meet up at the Snow King Festival in Yellowknife, NT, Canada. We will be performing inside of an ice castle…. the places old time music takes ya! We are also very excited about the release of our first vinyl. Our latest recording Devil in the Seat arrives on vinyl March 11th, and we are excited for you to hear it in this high quality format!
Looking back at 2015, we sure can say that we got around! From theAnchorage Folk Festival with the Cajun Country Revival to a tour of the Pacific Northwest across to the Northeast, we covered the coasts! Then back up to Alaska to the Folk Festival in Juneau, then a tour of Ireland (Fiddle Fair!), Scotland and England! We met again for a quick European tour to play the gigantic Roskilde festival in Denmark, Gooikoorts in Belgium and a week in Sweden! To the East Coast we returned for the Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival and drove through upstate New York, Ontario and finished atWheatland in Michigan! We teamed up with Joel Savoy and Jesse Lege for a little tour of Virginia, DC, Maryland and West Virginia and finish our year of touring with a Midwest tour from St. Louis to Minneapolis.
Caleb and Reeb traveled a lot with the country band and Sammy and Nadine moved into a cute little cabin in downtown Whitehorse.
Where next you ask?
We won’t be gathering dust in 2016 either it looks like! Lots of stuff in the works, but here are the festivals and tours we are thrilled to share with you:
We’ll then go all the way up to Northern Canada to play the Snow King Festival in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories! They build a gigantic snow castle on the lake and events take place in the castle for the whole month of March, including the Royal Ball, which we’ll be part of!
A tour of the South will lead us all the way to MerleFest on April 29th! It will be the first time for the Foghorn Stringband playing this amazing festival. Early bird tickets on sale now here!
If only Chevy Chase was part of it, oh well. Foghorn just wrapped up our last tour of the year, a little shot through the Midwest from St. Louis to Minneapolis. It was a fine time, and thanks to all our fans throughout the area that came out to see us play and support live music! It’s hard to believe, but Foghorn won’t reconvene for a tour until February. We’ll be headed for the Northeast at that time, through New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont, so keep an eye out for us there! It seems like a long time from now, but it will be a real pleasure to settle in to some good home living! There’s no place like it. We have sure been on the road non-stop this year, and are all looking forward to some much needed rest & relaxation. We’ll be hot and ready to ride when February rolls around!
Our Midwest tour started in St Louis, where we played the KDHX Stage, a beautiful venue inside the radio station. The crowd was lively, and it was a great kickoff to the tour. We taught workshops the next day at the St. Louis Folk School. We played a private wedding in St. Louis Halloween evening, some guests were in costume! We headed north to Chicago to play a matinee concert at the City Winery, and played a square dance in Evanston the next evening, just north of Chicago. The dance was held at a Legion Hall, and the floor was full of dancers. It is always rejuvenating to play a dance. Our music is dance music after all, and it feels good at some level to play the music as it was intended every so often.
We headed up to Cedar Rapids Iowa and played at the Legion Arts Hall, a historic building built in 1891. It started out as a Czech Presbyterian Community Center, and now it is a center for the arts. In the mean time, it had a few lives, and survived the great flood of 2008, and as a result was fully restored into the beautiful place it is today.
Then we commenced the coffee roastery portion of our tour! We drank some awful good coffee… starting in Depere, WI, near Green Bay, at the Luna Cafe, a small and cozy little room where they close up after coffee shop hours, and clear out all the tables and invite people back for the evening show. The owner of Luna Cafe also brought us to perform the next morning at the school where his son attends. The kids loved the music, dancing up a storm in front of the stage. We carried on to Milwaukee after the school show, and performed that night at the Anodyne Cafe, another roastery that aside from making great coffee, also serves up some great wood fired pizza up the road at their second location. Milwaukee brought out a heck of a crowd that night, and the audience showed the love, which made the performance part extra fun. We got to see some old pals that night too. We stayed along the lake in a nice little hotel, and somehow it sorta felt like being in the countryside, right there in the middle of the city. Mark of the Luna Cafe, and Matt of Anodyne Coffee are both wonderful hosts, and took great care of us.
Leo and Leona’s. You almost know what it is like just by the name. At the intersection of two county highways in rural central Wisconsin is Leo and Leona’s, an old-school bar and dance hall. It’s in the Driftless area where high rolling farmlands mingle with deep forested hollers. Walking into Leo & Leona’s, it is easy to feel right at home. There is a sweet jukebox in the corner, and plenty of wonderfully tawdry wall hangings from when Leo and Leona owned the bar. Now it is owned by three brothers, who seem to have kept it beautifully much the way it was. Signs hang on the wall written by Leo and Leona that say things like, “Closed today. Just plain pooped.” or “closed today, come ‘round to the backyard.” Foghorn ate dinner at their first Friday fish fry as a band that night. And our old pals, Tim Foss, and Josh Rabie joined us for the show, both with an opening set, and as guests during our set.
Minneapolis brought a close to the tour. We played a sold-out show at the Turf Club with the Cactus Blossoms and Jack Klatt, followed by a fine time afterwards as we all packed onto a tiny stage in the basement bar for the after party, and took turns singing country songs. If the bar hadn’t had to close up, I’m sure we’d have been there ’til the wee hours! To finish off the tour we played a concert Sunday afternoon at St. James Lutheran Church in Burnsville, just south of the city. Sammy’s family joined us on stage with his brother Eric playing banjo, dad Mark doubling Caleb on mandolin, and sister in law, Teresa clogging to the music. It was a family affair, and Sammy’s mother and aunt baked a whole lot of amazingly tasty cookies for the intermission. I probably ate a few too many, but really couldn’t help myself. It was nice to end the tour with family in Sammy’s homeland. It is fun to see him go down memory lane a little more each time we are there. We all had early morning flights the next morning to go our separate ways. The fall weather all through this tour was truly amazing, warm and sunny with fall colors really showing!
Coming up, Foghorn will divide and conquer: Sammy and Nadine will be doing a Home Routes tour as a duo. Home Routes offers circuits of house concerts in different regions of Canada, and this one will be a 10-day run through Alberta. Then they will return to Whitehorse, Yukon and enjoy some home time in their new cabin, and will be teaching some workshops there.
Caleb and Reeb set off with the Caleb Klauder Band for a 10-day tour starting in DC, and going through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, bringing some dancehall country music around to the people there. They will also be playing a few shows around the region as a duo back in Oregon just prior to Christmas, as well as playing a New Year’s Eve show at the Spare Room with Caleb Klauder Band. And they will perform again as a duo at the Portland Old Time Gathering in January.
Prior to our recent Midwest tour we had some great times touring with our pals, Joel Savoy and Jesse Lege in mid-October. We did a five day run with them through DC at the Hill Center, a house concert in Baltimore, MD, then Shepherdstown, WV at the beautiful Opera House, and ended with Home Craft Days in Big Stone Gap,VA, and Pennington Gap, VA. We always have a great time collaborating with Jesse and Joel, and it is exciting to see what music comes out of us when we band together. Most nights we did an old time set with Foghorn, and a cajun set with Cajun Country Revival, which combined Jesse and Joel with Sammy and Nadine or all of us. Home Craft Days was the culmination of the tour. It is a festival that has a great lineup of local old time music, as well as many local artisans showing and selling their wares, everything from broom-making to basket weaving. It was so refreshing to be, not an anomaly musically, but to be part of a live active community of traditional musicians. I could have sat there all day and watched the whole lineup. There was also quite a crowd of flat footers waiting in the wings and flooding the dance floor whenever a dance tune was played. It was fun to see the dancing as a regular part of life for young and old alike.
After the CCR tour, Sammy and Nadine drove back to Louisiana with Jesse and Joel to spend the week visiting there, and teaching harmony singing at Black Pot Camp. Caleb and Reeb went to Elkins, WV to teach mandolin and guitar at Augusta Old Time Week. Caleb also hosted his second annual Great Big Fais Do Do back in Portland at the legendary Spare Room Lounge in early October, a three day festival dedicated to country and cajun music and dance. And the Caleb Klauder band did a tour from AMA in Nashville to Chicago. So, you can see, we’ve all been keeping very busy! We hope you are too, but not too busy! And that you enjoy your holidays more than ever! May the holidays be restful and cozy, and with lots of good eatin’!
We are so grateful for the many amazing places we get to travel to, and wonderful people we meet all along the way. Thanks to everyone who supports our livelihoods as musicians, and supports live music in general! We love what we do, and want to keep doing it!
It has been awhile since the last recap of our Foghorn travels. The summer was a busy one, and one tour bled into the next. In the whirlwind of travel, gigs, seeing old friends, making new ones, and being in a new place, state, sometimes country, every day, the quiet time for reflecting seems nonexistent. Sometimes it is enough in the day simply to try and get enough good sleep, try to move the body a little after sitting long hours in the van, eat something reasonably healthy, and be present and energetic for the evening’s performance! I’m lucky to perform with three folks that manage to do this night after night. So, forgive me if this post is outdated, but I hope you might yet enjoy a few stories from our travels…
We had a remarkable summer! Caleb and I had a special opportunity to perform on A Prairie Home Companion with Caleb’s Country Band in Seattle in June, and got to hang with Garrison and all the gang. What a thrill! The two of us also had an inspiring week teaching at Voiceworks in Port Townsend, WA. Meanwhile, Sammy and Nadine had a great tour with Jesse Lege and Joel Savoy from Central California up the West Coast to Portland, OR.
Foghorn met up for a tour in Europe in July. We started in Denmark at the Roskilde Festival. We lodged nearby with some old pals in Christiania in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen, near Christiania
This festival is enormous with 100,000 attendees, and many stages all spread across a beautiful festival ground that still manages to feel sort of chummy. The staff at the festival treated us very well, despite the fact that they must host hundreds of bands over the week long fest. We felt a little bit like rockstars when, after a morning of wondering who on earth was going to come see our noon set on the opening day of the festival, we stepped out on stage to a sold out audience of 1100 people standing & cheering us on. With a bit of cajoling from Caleb, the audience began chanting “BANJO! BANJO! BANJO!…! “ as Sammy reached for the banjo on one tune. They also solemnly held lighters high and swaying while Nadine and I sang a ballad. Those people were certainly among our best audiences of all time! They were so much fun to perform for.
Drinking local lambic at Gooikoorts
After Roskilde, we went south through Germany to the Netherlands and Belgium. We played at a little theater bar called Dorphuis De Werf at the edge of the countryside in Hoorn in the Netherlands. Then we continued the next day to Belgium, navigating around the Tour de France, to play at the Gooikoorts Festival. And believe me, everything they say about Belgian beer being amazing is true. This little festival, nestled in a little village amidst rolling fields, had the best setup including a 24/7outdoor bar, from friday till monday, in the middle of the festival grounds. But we hardly had to patronize it since the backstage bar was keeping our glasses full! They proudly served us many varieties of locally brewed beer, including my favorite, a sour cherry lambic. And each came in a specific glass, shaped to best experience the flavor of the beer. The audience here was wonderful, packed into the main stage tent, they made it clear they were loving our traditional American music. Sometimes I feel we are couriers of this old music, bringing it around the world to share with other places on behalf of our tradition. Of course we aren’t the only couriers, and we are lucky to have this traditional music in America. While I know there are many here who appreciate it, it is truly amazing to see how much the folks abroad love it. I guess we probably take it for granted a bit here in the States, but I wish we didn’t. Thanks to all that don’t!
We then played five dates in Sweden, starting off many hours’ drive through farmlands and forests northwest of Stockholm outside the village of Törsby, at an outdoor campground
Fröknarn Fräs, Törsby Camping
restaurant on a lakeshore. This gig fell under the heading of our frequently uttered statement: “The places old time music takes ya!” The Swedes are very into camping and many people rent a campsite in one of these campgrounds for the entire summer. They build elaborate campsites that may include RVs with covered decks build around them complete with couches and TVs. It becomes a little village, a community, where kids play all summer long, and families come and go as they have leisure time. The restaurant was filled with routine patrons that weren’t necessarily there to see the Foghorn Stringband play. You might say it was the opposite of our experience at Roskilde. Instead, we were background music to people only mildly interested in our music while eating dinner. That’s fine of course, but what made the experience special was the owner of the place, Helena, and her cousin, an amazing chef, who were the ultimate hosts. They seemed to fall in love with our music, and treated us with great kindness and generosity. We played the next night in Örebro, at the East West Sushi restaurant… again, “the places old time music takes ya!” A local band opened for us, Six String Yada. They play their brand of enthusiastic old time music, and once again, we realized that wherever we go, the old time music community is also. It’s pretty cool. We drove the next day to Stockholm and played a sweet little bluegrass festival in a big forest park in the middle of the city. We had fun watching all the other bands in the lineup, and trying to stay dry as it poured rain.
Nääsville Bluegrass Festival
We headed west from there, crossing the country to play in Malmö in the garden courtyard of Kafé Agnes. And we finished up the tour at the Nääsville Bluegrass Festival in a small village called Ätran, south of Gothenburg. This was such a charming festival. It was set in a grassy forest meadow beside a beautiful lake. The Swedes were jumping off the dock for a swim, and so were we! And the lineup was awesome, and they actually played bluegrass music! Not some new age jam grass, or some other boring pop music that happened to have bluegrass instrumentation. We were greeted by the fabulously mustached father of the festival coordinator, who didn’t speak much english but asked us straightaway if we’d like some whiskey. He was dressed in full country western attire, and upon our acceptance of his hospitality, took us to the trunk of his car where he had a mini bar set up with several types of bourbon. In broken english, he told us some amazing stories of meeting all the old country stars. He had a goal to get all his LPs autographed, and would apparently go to great lengths to do so. In one instance, he arrived early to a venue where Johnny Cash was to play that evening. He snuck in through one of the backdoors, and hid in a cupboard all afternoon until the evening, and while getting out of the cupboard, was soon caught by a security guard, and escorted toward the door. But Johnny saw them, and called to guard to let him go, and when they began talking, Mr. Cash not only signed his record, but also allowed him to stay for the concert, and wine and dine backstage!
We all parted ways after Nääsville. Sammy and Nadine spent some time in the Yukon, and joined Joel Savoy and Cedric Watson in August for a tour of Alaska, including Salmonfest. Meanwhile, Caleb and I performed as a duo in Twain, CA, and performed with the Caleb Klauder Band at the Stevenson Bluegrass Festival in WA, a couple of weddings, and taught and performed at the Northern Lights Bluegrass Festival in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Foghorn reconvened again in September in Boston to commence a tour from there to Michigan. We had a great reception at Club Passim. We then drove up to Brunswick, Maine to perform at the Thomas Point Bluegrass Festival. That was a lot of fun, and we got to see some of our heroes, Del McCoury Band, and Hot Rize. We stayed with some friends who kindly hosted us at their summer cottage way down at the tip of one of those gorgeous peninsulas on the coast. We played a couple nice shows in NY, one at the Rosendale Cafe, and one at the Nelson Odeon in Cazenovia, NY, a sweet little grange hall gone theater owned and curated by a couple that lives next door. Next stop was Ontario, and we got to be with Nadine’s aunt on her birthday. We performed an outdoor concert on her lavender farm, and celebrated that night with a feast. Toronto was a good time the next night, and we played a show with our friends the Pigeon Hawk Stringband at the Tranzac Club. We played a couple shows in Michigan, one at the legendary Elderly Instruments, (drool) and one at the Livery in Benton Harbor on the lake. Then we wound up the tour at the Wheatland Festival near Remus, MI, a big festival with all genres of music. It was a fun scene for sure and we got to hang with some more of our heroes, Marc and Ann Savoy, from Eunice, LA, and Cathy Jordan and Dervish, from County Sligo in Ireland.
our pal, the charming, the famous, Cathy Jordan
Perhaps the most memorable moments of the festival, besides fishing and swimming in the pond at our hosts’ home nearby, were experiencing the late night Cajun dances, which we were proud to play with the Savoy Family Band. Instead of partner dancing and moving around the dance floor in a circle, as you would see at a typical Cajun dance, the “dancers” were, yes moving around in a circle around the dance floor, though not in two-step or waltz form. Many were costumed, in various states of drunkeness, and most all were having a great time circling the room in a slow moving parade, a stew of humanity that rates among the highest of my people watching experiences. There were many jaw-dropping moments of laughter as folks passed by the stage, putting on their best solo moves for our (the band’s) entertainment. There were so many people, and that dance hall was so full of characters, that concentric circles of onlookers spread outside into the dark night.
After Wheatland, Nadine and Sammy headed back to the Yukon. Caleb and I drove from there to Nashville the next day to start a 10-day tour with the Caleb Klauder Band, starting with the Americana Music Festival in Nashville. We all got a little time off after that, and Caleb hosted the 2nd annual Great Big Fais Do Do at the Spare Room Lounge in Portland, a celebration of honky-tonk, country and cajun dance music.
It was a summer full of beautiful experiences, thanks to all that were part of making it this way.