Well, what can I say? Ireland has come through for us once again with its good humor, friendly hospitality, fantastic scenery, ever-flowing perfect pints of Guinness, tiny roads, charming pubs, and most of all, the craic. I could never grow tired of Ireland. Don’t ever change.
Our Ireland tour was two weeks in all. We started out in Southwest Cork, one of our favorite regions of Ireland. Caleb and I flew into Shannon Airport, and were greeted by customs agents who were not only humorous and friendly, but also persisted in claiming, due to the instruments on our backs, that we’d be going on up to Ennis for the Fleadh, a national festival of traditional music. We kept mentioning we were actually headed south to Skibbereen to play at our friends’ wedding, yet, they couldn’t be persuaded, saying again, “I’d say you’ll be going up to Ennis”. Sure enough, we found ourselves driving the wrong direction, curiosity got the best of us, and we drove up to Ennis for lunch, and to experience a bit of the festival. We missed the nighttime performances, but what we did get to see before our drive to Skibbereen, was all the busking on the streets. Everywhere we turned there were people busking, and the bulk of them were young people, playing fiddles, bodhran, flutes, dancing, etc. It was striking how much a part of growing up traditional music must be for people here. It’s lovely, and made me wish that it was the same back home. People in Ireland take such joy in music, and I think it must be because of their connection to their traditional music.
We made it to SW Cork by dinnertime, and Sammy and Nadine were there. Nadine cooked up a delicious dinner. They had flown into Cork the day before. We were at the home of some friends who we’d met over the years at the Baltimore Fiddle Fair. We would play their wedding a couple days later. Their beautiful home had a view to die for of the islands and shoreline looking out to the sea. And the weather forecast looked good for the wedding that was to be in their garden.
Our first show was in the Riverside Cafe, owned by our friends Sandrine and Cliodhna McCarthy, two sisters in-law. If you are ever in Skibbereen, make sure you stop in for their delicious homemade and locally sourced food. We had a sold out night there, and played acoustically in the restaurant. The McCarthy family are dear friends, from years of going to the Baltimore Fiddle Fair, and it was a pleasure to get to spend a few days with them. They are a hilarious bunch. Declan, the oldest brother, curates the Baltimore Fiddle Fair, and all the family seems to take part, the sisters manning the door, their mother fluffing our larder with
Skibbereen Rowing Club
homemade breads and jam, fresh eggs, and the like. And of course, Skibbereen was afire with pride for their hometown boys Gary and Paul O’Donavan who had just taken a silver medal in the Olympics for rowing! Good work lads!
The next day, the weather was fine, and the wedding was beautiful out in the garden. We played the reception in the community hall that evening, and a fine party it was. The following day we were hired to play at Levis’ Pub in Ballydehob for the after party, and it was a great session in that cozy little pub. The groom’s father cooked his famous lamb curry for the party, and there was even a square dance in the pub later on, called by legendary Irish caller, Declan McCarthy! That evening the weather changed, and we awoke the next morning to gail force winds sweeping up from the coast, and pelting rains.
It was time to leave SW Cork, and we’re always reluctant to do so, though there are always good things waiting. We drove to Dublin that day to play at the Cobblestone. Our friends, the talented and magnificent Dermie and Tara Diamond opened the show for us with traditional music on flute and fiddle. We were joined that evening by Caleb’s son Elijah, and his friend McKayla, who would travel with us for a week. It was their first time in Ireland, and I reckon they were in for some good times.
We drove off to Bangor, Northern Ireland next morning to play at the Open House Festival, a month long festival in Bangor that puts on comedy, film, food, music, literature, and all sorts of arts. Our show was held in the Ballyholme Yacht Club in a cozy upstairs bar with big windows looking out to sea. The crowd was packed in there, and what a good rowdy audience they were. It was our first time playing the Open House Festival in about 10 years.
Cookstown. Always a pleasure. Our friends are wonderful hosts and put on beautiful concerts. It was a sold out show there and we had a lovely night. The weather held out and the big doors to the building were kept open, and chairs spilled out into the courtyard. Our good friends from Liverpool came all the way to see the show. After the show, there was a bit of a sing-song after the concert goers had mainly departed. It was a passing of the guitar, always a special experience to hear the solo voice sparingly accompanied. Even my bandmates sang songs I don’t usually hear them sing, and it was a treat to hear them.
We had a drive out to Westport the next day. Our friend Uri Kohen, who puts on the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival each June, (we played there this past June) put on a show for us at Matt Molloy’s pub in the back Yard Bar, a lovely glass-ceilinged room with a fireplace. The acoustics in there are somehow just perfect. We stayed that night with friends out in the country, and the quiet and stars were just right.
Next day we had a short drive and therefore got to do a rare bit of exploring. Someone at the show had invited us for a swim, so we met her out by the sea at her friend’s house. To live there would be a dream. The old house sat just above the shore with lovely gardens and lawns around, and just out front was an old stone pier. The tide was out a fair bit for jumping off of the pier, so after tea and biscuits, we walked round the shoreline to the point and went in for a swim. The shore was rocky and full of seaweed, but once in the water, the bottom was perfectly sandy, and it all just brought us back to life! Nothing like a swim in the sea to revive the vital spark! We had a view of Croagh Patrick across the inlet, the mountaintop site of an ancient pagan pilgrimage, and where St. Patrick fasted for 40 days. Then we were off to Roscommon to play a private birthday party, some good pals. It was an epic time of course, as the Irish know how to throw a good party. Lots of music, a pig roast, and a blazing fire. We got in a good visit with the legendary Cathy Jordan, such a ham!
Next day we were off to County Donegal for a rare day off. Though it really wasn’t a different endeavor than a work day… we drove to a pub and played a session for a few hours! It was a lovely time trading tunes with Dermie, Tara, and Helen Diamond as well as a slew of other fine musicians including the pub owner John. Even Elijah joined in for a tune! John the Miner’s is the pub in the village of Carrick. John himself was a fine host, and had a perfect beef stew waiting for us after the session. We nicknamed him John the Quencher, as we were served fresh pints each time our previous pint was a third from gone without fail! It was great to have a night off of performing, and just sit and visit and trade tunes.
The following morning we got up and made our way to do a bit of sightseeing. We made it out to Slieve League, breathtakingly severe sea cliffs on the south coast of Donegal. Stunning. We drove to Manorhamilton that afternoon where we were to play at the Sculpture Center. Anna Legge put us on there in a nice informal setting with a cookout, in a cool industrial space that spilled to the outdoors. It was a nice evening for it, and the first annual Stoneyard Barbecue was a success I’d say! The night was capped by a stop off in Connolly’s. Joe and Ita were in, and this would be the third time we’ve been to their pub I’d say. There is something very special about them and their pub. It is an unassuming place, simple, and just right. Joe is a brilliant ballad singer, and we had a good few songs that night.
We bit adieu to the young ones after a week with them, and dropped them at the train station bound for Dublin. Hopefully tagging along with us was just right for them. I like to think we gave them a bit of a special experience traveling around as musicians, different than the typical tourist. With so many friends made over the years, there is always lots of fun to be had. We played a private house concert that evening in Kilkenny, and it was quite a party. The hosts have a beautiful cottage and gardens located right adjacent to an old mill on the river, and to the ruins of a priory. It was magical there. I must say, we’ve had great audiences all across Ireland. They really listen, and truly love and appreciate music. But this audience stood out even more. They were the perfect mix of listening attentively, yet totally rowdy at the same time. The set ended with a dance party in front of the stage, folks of all ages cutting up.
The tour ended at Dunmore East. The afternoon set was a blast. We played for a couple of hours out in the brilliant sunshine. It was the best summer weather of the whole trip. The gig was at the Strand Inn, right above the seashore, and a sandy beach. We had a good listening crowd, happily drinking pints in the sun. Had a swim in the sea after, and then played again late night in the back bar of a pub. There were folks there to see us, and it was them that cheered us on that night. The bass broke a string, that almost never happens! And a kind fan offered up his “silent bass” an electric stick bass, so after Nadine had played on with a mere three strings, he fetched it in, and we carried on.
Late to bed and an early morning the next day to get to the airport. Nadine and Sammy were off to Quebec to visit her family. I imagine they’re about eating lobster right now near the sea, lucky dogs! Caleb and myself are off to Portland and a few days rest before we head out to Boise, ID for the Hermit Festival. Foghorn will reconvene in no time on September 8-11 for the Old Tones Festival in upstate NY, a concert at the Nelson Odeon, and a show at the Burren in Boston. A little more summertime before we turn into autumn.
A wonderful tour of Ireland is happening! We couldn’t be happier to be there a second time this year! Here’s the full schedule:
Also, great news!
Portland folks and friends visiting Portland: We are excited to announce that all our merchandise is now available at a.ell design at 3539 SE Hawthorne!
The store carries all our shirts for adults, kids and babies as well as our new handkerchiefs and all our CDs and LPs!
We are also working on a brand new website including a beautiful online store with secure payment options. Stay tuned for more details!
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!