After a tour in the northeastern US in the late winter that was like a homecoming, we had a predictably remarkable time at the Alaska Folk Festival in Juneau, AK in April. Those Alaskans are a rough and ready bunch, always ready to have a good time! Their hospitality is on par with Louisiana and Ireland, what I like to call The Triangle of Awesome Good Times. Caleb and Reeb flew from there to Big Sur to teach for a few days at a camp on a family homestead overlooking the Pacific. And Sammy and Nadine made their way back to the Yukon. We all enjoyed a break from the road the last part of April before meeting up again in Dublin, Ireland to play at Whelan’s. What followed was a monumental nearly 2 weeks traveling about the wilds of Ireland. The Irish were quite simply, heroic in their reception of us, hosting, and keeping us up to all hours, feeding us, wooing us with their mellifluous speak, and taking the piss, keeping it real at all times. We passed through Dungarvin, (incidentally, the swinging capitol of Europe, though no one made any passes at any of us) and played a show at The Local, a beautiful sparkling pub owned by Donnchadh Gough, famed bodhrán, player. Though Donnchadh was persuasive in trying to get us to stick around that night, that slave driver and Fiddle Fair mastermind, Declan McCarthy had urged us to carry on to Baltimore in West Cork, the very southwest of Ireland, so we could wake up there the next day and play the morning kids show for the schools. Baltimore Fiddle Fair has been going for 23 years, and is one of my favorite festivals of all time. It is still fairly small, therefore intimate, and the music is exceptional, mostly traditional, and the setting is a small fishing village on the sea, an outdoor marquis for the main stage, and a couple of smaller stages in an old church, and one in the Glebe Gardens, not to mention numerous sessions in pubs about town. Southwest Cork is a winsome part of Ireland with its garden-like landscape, stunning views, and cheerful people…. or wait,… am I talking about all of Ireland? Well, yes, but Cork is special. We were kept up all night every night at the Fiddle Fair, pints of Guinness flowing ’til all hours, and king birds calling at dawn when we finally made it to our beds smiling, and filled with the music and good times.
We were knackered and a bit heartbroken when we left. Between the hospitable McCarthy clan and us, there seemed to be a mutual uncertainty as to whether we should stay and have more fun, or leave and preserve our collective health! We drove the winding roads of Kerry up to Dingle to play not one, but two shows at Siopa Ceoil, and later at John Benny’s Pub, where friends were waiting to cheer us on and revive our spirits! We traveled through Galway, Mayo, and Sligo, getting a chance to play some great shows, see some old friends, and visit with some heroes. (yes, John Carty and Cathy Jordan, you are!) Our last night before hopping the pond to get over to Scotland, was spent in a beautiful barn in Cookstown with our dearests, Sharon and Arnie at the Red Room. They host house shows, and we packed as many as we could in the barn that night for a fun show.
The week that followed took us through Scotland and England. We played Glasgow, Edinburgh, stayed with friends south of Edinburgh, and got to hike around on the wild moors. In England, we played in Liverpool, (they must be related to the Alaskans! They bring it!) in and around London, and down in the garden of England, Tonbridge Wells. We made new friends, and played some new venues, most notably the Cajun Barn down in Kent, and Kings Place in London.
We learned some new colloquialisms from the English, and intend to clean up our old ones… for example, a gentleman leaned toward us requesting that we hand him his waterproof trousers from beneath a nearby chair. Oh, you mean those rain pants? We forgot our swimming costumes, thinking the UK to be too cold for a swim. And we learned that a onesie is not a small baby’s outfit, but a full head to toe fuzzy one-piece for an adult! Imagine an adult-sized skull and cross banjos onesie! And lastly, one morning while out for a jog, Caleb came upon an older gentleman on his way to church on a forest trail. When the gentleman became aware of Caleb, and moved over for him to pass, he exclaimed: “Oh my, I hope I wasn’t impeding you on the pathway!” All told, I think we Americans could stand to broaden our use of the English language! There are so many lovely adjectives and verbs that we could be exercising! Somehow, while “awesome” certainly gets the point across, “utterly delightful” really sends it home!
While it can be very disheartening to return home after making so many memories, we learned that the best way to do this, is to return via Boston, and enjoy the utter delight of the music-loving Boston crowd. And it doesn’t hurt any to be near the Irish hospitality at The Burren with Tommy McCarthy! We’ll come back soon Boston! Thanks for welcoming us home!
Our year so far has been great! We tour the Pacific Northwest in January and February and just came back from an amazing two weeks in the Northeast! We gorged ourselves on Maine lobster, enjoyed a maple creemee in Vermont, visited friends we made during the Christmas Celtic Sojourn back in December, drove on beautiful rural roads in upstate New York, jammed with a slew of great musicians, managed to get good sleep and nice morning walks and played concerts or dances every night for 15 nights and truly had a blast!
We also managed to squeeze in the Alaska Folk Festival in Juneau! The original line up of Foghorn played there for the first time in 2003, and has tried to come back as often as possible! This was the first time this current line up performed at it and it was amazing! Three nights in bars playing for four hours to a packed dance floor is quite the experience!
In just a few weeks we’ll be heading to Ireland, Scotland and England for three week tour! We are so excited to be performing in that part of the world! Here are our tour dates!
Our new CD is here and we are so happy to share it with you! We are on tour in the Pacific Northwest until February 15th then we’ll have a Northeast Tour starting on March 20th!
The CD is available on CDbaby as digital download and physical copy!
Devil in the Seat was recorded from December 1st to 5th 2014 on the beautiful island of Kauai by Will Lydgate from Steelgrass Studio at a remote location. The recording took place in a small studio surrounded by coconut trees, ocean view, great friends, amazing food and was partially fueled by a few margaritas! Here are some photos:
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Very Happy New Year from Foghorn Stringband!
Foghorn is traveling home from Boston where we’ve been for the last two weeks performing on WGBH’s Christmas Celtic Sojourn. WGBH is the pubic radio station in Boston, and Brian O’Donovan hosts a syndicated show called Celtic Sojourn. Each year he curates a live musical performance at the Cutler Majestic Theater in downtown Boston. Being inside that theater is what I imagine it would be like inside a Fabergé egg. The rounded ceiling stretches high above with gilded carvings and a pattern of gold and pink and blue. There are three tiered balconies, and at the top you are right over the stage which requires it to be breathtakingly steep. Lovely little Stadtler & Waldorf style balconies nestle up near the stage on the side walls. Quite a place. We got to collaborate with some old friends, the legendary Irish fiddler Kevin Burke, and our pal Johnny Connelly who plays accordion, as well as new friends, the Irish band, Solas, a beautiful singing duo from County Kerry, Lumiere, and a cast of amazing dancers and horn players. It was really fun to step outside of what we normally do and mix things up a bit, not to mention, spending time with the Irish is always good craic. And we met a whole new audience who might not have found our music otherwise.
Now I must go back in time and attempt to fill you in on what has happened since summer… the time flies! Firstly, Foghorn did a tour in Scandinavia back in August. We started out the tour in a small village in southern Denmark, where we played a big festival called Tønder. We had many performances there, some of which were as Foghorn Stringband, and some of which were as a cajun band collaboration with Jesse Lege, Joel Savoy, and Dirk Powell. There were many big stages on the festival ground, but our favorite stages were inside these large beautiful German-made circular Spiegeltents. Once inside, one would be surrounded in a warm dim light, walls of wood panelling, hardwood floors, beautiful stained glass windows and mirrors everywhere, colorful fabric stretched above, and cozy booths with wooden benches following the circumference of the tent. We were so well cared for at this festival, and each night the backstage became an all night session/party with musicians from all over the world. Being at Tønder Festival allowed us to put together a short tour while in the area, so we flew from there to Sweden and played shows in Gothenburg, and outside of Karlstadt. At this point our train tour began, and I must say, what a luxury to travel by train. We could walk around on the train and watch the scenery go by. We even played tunes in the dining car one night. Made us wish there was a way to do that here in the States. I have to mention we were accompanied on the tour by our friend Declan McCarthy who curates the Fiddle Fair in Baltimore, Ireland. It was great to get to spend some time with him. We took a train to Oslo, Norway where we performed and taught a workshop at the local music conservatory. The students were very adept and picked up the tunes quickly. From there we headed north to play in Steinkjer and Levanger, and while we only made it less than halfway up Norway, it took 8 hours by train and going through the mountains, it felt wild and remote in some ways.
The train followed a river, so big, wild, beautiful and blue and clear… it reminded me maybe of what the Columbia River must have looked like before the dams. We’d gone from the lowlands on the sea, (Oslo is on a fjord), up into the highlands where all the trees are small, and the meadows are full of alpine plants. The landscape was dotted with wooden houses painted red with white trim. Red is a traditional color in Scandinavia, because it is inexpensively homemade from linseed oil, rye flour, and the leftovers of copper ore. As we got farther up the river, it got smaller and smaller, and the swimming holes were to die for. The only drawback of the train is we couldn’t stop and jump in the water! Big clear deep pools amid granite slabs between sets of rapids. Made me start to think I could do just fine eating bread and butter and pickled fish for breakfast, and jumping in that river every day. Our shows up north were great, and we shared a bill with Germund Larsen Trio, who play traditionally rooted original fiddle pieces, accompanied by bass and organ or piano. We stayed with a lovely young dairy farmer named Ingrid who was so kind to host us for the two days we were there. Her farm was up on a big slope above a distant fjord. We rode the rails back to Oslo where we flew home to the States, reconvening a couple weeks later for a tour from St Louis, MO to Raleigh, NC in late September/early October.
The Caleb Klauder Country Band had just showcased at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville. And Sammy and Nadine had been on tour with Jesse Lege and Joel Savoy as part of the Central Time Tour, a collaboration of several bands including Pokey Lafarge. We met up in St. Louis and toured Kentucky, Virginia, and South Carolina on the way to the International Bluegrass Music Association conference in Raleigh. Our booking agents Martha Stracener-Danzic and Rob Miller and the rest of the crew at Quicksilver Productions put on a heck of a party there. The Quicksilver suite hosted some awesome showcases, and was hopping with activity all week long. Thanks to the whole crew for making it so much fun and working hard for us! It was great to hang out with our fellow bands, and friends in the music community. We ended our tour in the Blue Ridge mountains in lovely Boone, NC where we taught a workshop and did a performance at the Jones House. We were hosted in some beautiful cabins up along the Wautaga River near Valle Cruces at the Mast Farm. The leaves were turning and the crisp autumn frosty mornings had arrived.
November was a time for other projects, the Caleb Klauder Country Band did some touring up and down the west coast, as well as out East from Nashville, TN to Asheville, NC, and Sammy and Nadine were in the Yukon. We met up the day after Thanksgiving in Kauai, HI where we set upon the task of recording a new album. Very exciting considering the last recording was made three years ago! We had been coaxed by a friend to come record at his place in Kauai,… not a hard sell. We brought in an engineer and set up a studio. It turned out to be a great environment for recording, and in no small way due to our hosts care of us. Between delicious meals, epic rounds of midnight croquet, “go blue guy!”, little trips to the beach for a swim, and drinking a fair bit of beer, we recorded 34 tracks! It was the best time, and the relaxing environs made it productive and focused. Besides, it wasn’t hard to get used to eating avocados, oranges, star fruits, and fresh coconut water from the trees outside. It was more than a little hard to leave that tropical island paradise and head into the winter of Boston. Now we’re beset with the most difficult task of culling through the 34 tracks and choosing what will go on the album!
You can look for our new recording around about February when we’ll be doing an album release tour in the Northwest. We’ll be at the Anchorage Folk Festival at the end of January. Then we’ll tour from Vancouver Island to Boise and back to Olympia for the Oly Old Time Festival. In late March and early April we’ll be up East touring around New England, so look for us there! Then in May we head off to Ireland, Scotland and England for a month. The year to come is shaping up! Happy holidays to you all!
Foghorn is off to Scandinavia as I write this on an early morning flight across the country. I’m watching the carvings of water on the earth below, somewhere out in the barren desert between Oregon and the Midwest. Little fields are scratched out of the land, some green with irrigation, and some brown and fallow. We’ve been doing non-Foghorn related enterprises this past month or so, and after some ol’ R&R, we are headed for Tønder, Denmark where we’ll hit the ground running, going straight from Hamburg to Tønder to perform at a big festival there that shares its town name. We’ll be there all weekend performing as Foghorn Stringband as well as collaborating with our pals, Jese Lege and Joel Savoy, as the Cajun Country Revival. We are looking forward to seeing old friends and new faces there as the festival celebrates its 40th anniversary! After the festival we will head off to Norway and Sweden for a little tour there. Since the band has never been there before to perform, we are all looking forward to seeing some new territory. We’ll be traveling to Gothenburg & Karlstadt in Sweden, and Oslo, Steinkjer, and Levanger in Norway. So if you have any Scandanavian relatives or friends, send them our way next week!
This late summer/fall, Foghorn will tour out east starting in St. Louis and working our way out to Raleigh, NC in time for the IBMA conference. Tell all those talent buyers at IBMA to hire the heck out of us next year! And pay us lots of money too!
Terrible as it sounds, Foghorn will be meeting up in Hawaii after Thanksgiving to record a new album. It is very exciting to be making a new record, especially since I think the last one we made was almost three years ago! The time flies so it does. We are definitely not keeping up with Dolly Parton who was known to have released 13 records in a year. Why Hawaii you may wonder? Well, if you were going to record in November, where would you do it? Actually we are fortunate to have some friends of the band there who happen to have a recording studio on site, and well, as you can imagine, it seemed like too good an idea to pass up.
We’ll close the year with a trip out to Boston to be part of a Celtic Christmas Sojourn, a production that will run 12 nights in different locations in and around the city. We’ll get to collaborate with our pals, fiddler, Kevin Burke, accordion player, Johnny Connelly, Irish band, Solas, and others in the show. Should be a grand time, and festive too!
This past month has been a pause from Foghorn travels. Caleb and myself have been appreciating some rare and much welcomed home time in Portland. Caleb is recovering from his vocal chord operation, and is gradually getting back to singing, along with some helpful physical therapy, gymnastics for his vocal chords. Other than that it has been a real treat to experience an extended period of home life. There is no need to buy veggies with a garden full of them, and some great meals have come of it. It has been hot in August, and being outdoors is a must. It’s been great to hang out with friends, and enjoy the summertime pleasure of swimming and hiking! A few wedding gigs here and there have kept us in work this month locally.
Sammy and Nadine have been back and forth to the Yukon, a place they now call home. This past month took them out to Newfoundland to what sounds like a great festival where they performed with Jesse Lege and Joel Savoy. They are slowly bringing their possessions north and settling into their new city of Whitehorse, a place Nadine knows well as she used to live there.
Prior to August, to catch you all up with what has passed this summer, well, I think the last entry was before we were set to go to Germany for a month long tour back in May… We arrived in Frankfurt on May 1st and embarked on a three and a half week tour of Germany, most of which was spent in the south of Germany around Swabia, and Bavaria. We drank excellent German beer everywhere we went, and ate lots of good food too. We played at a garden show, we played in a seedy cowboy bar, we played nice concert halls, we played in a community center, we played at a famous old cafe that is known for its cakes, we played in a circus tent, and it was all wonderful. Not one German audience was boring, and I think that no night went by without several encores and at times a standing ovation! We felt so welcomed there and well cared for too. While in Germany, we had several opportunities to go out of Germany to neighboring Switzerland and Austria. The Alps are truly stunning. And reminds me what a treasure it is to live so near the North Cascades. We performed in Kitzbühl, a small Austrian skiing village, and in Zürich, and at a festival in the countryside southwest of Zürich.
After our travels in Germany were through, we flew to London to play a few shows in the UK. We played twice in different parts of London, played in Bristol, and headed out to the wild hills of Wales for a festival called Fire in the Mountain. We got to shack up in the most beautiful old Welsh cottage, turned from a mill house. I think it culminated with us on stage at midnight Saturday night playing in Crystal string vests, made in England… if you want to know what a Crystal string vest is, you might just have to look it up. At last after being abroad nearly 6 weeks, we ventured back to the ol’ West Coast.
We were once again accompanied on this Europe tour by my dear father, Norm Willms. He was a brave soul, coming with us for a solid 5 week tour, and I think he had a good time, though we do keep up a tiresome pace. He rolled with the punches and got to see the old country.
After we had a chance to unpack, do laundry and repack – ha!, We did a short run down the west coast, Ashland, Berkeley, then up to beautiful Grass Valley for the CBA’s Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival. And then the annual and always long-awaited pilgrimage to Weiser, ID for the National Old Time Fiddler’s contest, where we simply camp out in a dusty field for a week or so, and play tunes, visit with old friends, and it’s heaven. The drive up from Grass Valley through Nevada and eastern Oregon was gorgeous.
All of us took part, though not as Foghorn, in Caleb’s event in Portland in June, the Great Big Fais-Do-Do (fay-doe-doe) a three day music event featuring cajun and country music and lots of dancing. Then we took an overnight trip to Kentucky to play the ROMP Fest. The air was thick with humidity and heat, and that brewed up a thunderstorm that shut down the stage right after our last song of the set! Hardly a chance for applause as folks ran for their cars to escape the deluge. In mid-July we played out at the Bighorn Mountain Festival, a sweet little festival out in Wyoming. That town is home to the largest and free outdoor swimming pool… you can actually see it on google maps! Caleb and Sammy and I took a sojourn to the pool one afternoon, and the diving board was irresistible. We each took turns diving in over and over again!
That pretty much brings us up to the present…. it’s been a great summer filled with fun travels, and also some much appreciated home time to recoup, rejuvenate, and get inspired for the upcoming travels through the remainder of the year. Keep your eyes out for news of the new Foghorn Stringband album. It’ll be touring by early February 2015!
Ok, so much has happened since our last post! After Australia, Caleb and Reeb went to New Zealand to perform a few shows with Kelly Joe Phelps while Nadine and Sammy visited friends in Kauai and Alaska before settling in the Yukon for 6 weeks. We all reunited back in Portland for the Old Time Music Gathering, what a party! Our whole set is available to see on YouTube, just follow this link.
We then flew to Scotland to participate to Celtic Connections, a 2 week long, multi venue, amazing festival! We played a few shows and quite a few jam sessions with friends! What a week! Thanks to our pal Declan McCarthy for all the great times!
Foghorn at Celtic Connections! Thanks to John McCardle for the nice photo!
We met again in the Midwest, starting in Minneapolis where we played at The Cedar Cultural Center with The Cactus Blossoms, a great way to start the tour! We were fortunate enough to have our Cacti friends join us the next night at the most enjoyable Leo and Leona’s in Bangor, WI. We then played the Three Springs Barn in Lancaster, we love that venue! Great folks! Then a surprising 200+ people showed up in Milwaukee at the Anodyne Coffee Roasting Company the next night! Great hospitality! We made our way to Chicago from there to play at the Old Town School of Folk Music with Mike and Ruthy, so fun to see those guys and their little ones! From there we ventured in an unknown Foghorn territory, Cincinnati that is! (well, Newport, KY to be precise, but they call it Cincinnati!) Southgate House Revival was a great venue and we got to hear Buffalo Wabs and The Price Hill Hustle, Check them out they’re awesome! Having a day off was most welcome and we found ourselves at Sam and Abby’s in Bloomington, IN for the night. We even squeezed a jam with Brad Leftwitch and Linda! Our tour then took us to beautiful St Louis where we had a fun night at Off Broadway and had time to visit a few friends. From there, we drove to Kansas City for Folk Alliance! We got to teach a few classes and did a few showcases. We were so happy Martha and Rob from Quicksilver Productions were there, along with Devon Leger from Hearth Music and John Smith from 12 x 12 Management all sharing a showcase room. No need to say it was a rager every night! Party award goes to Yukon room, partying till 10am one day, way to go Yukon! From KC we drove to Springfield, MO to play a show and do workshops. Made new friends and had a blast! The next day we got the honor to perform at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, KY. It was packed and filled with love, thanks so much! The good news is we will be back in Owensboro for ROMP in late June, see you all there! We headed over to Lexington to play Natasha’s, a sweet bar with an excellent staff, helping through our Bourbon sipping journey. We stayed at our friend Arthur’s place in the heart of horse breeding heaven, acres and acres of gorgeous pastures and grazing purebreds, what a sight! The last part of the tour took us to Nashville where we were invited to perform at the Music City Roots radio show along side host Jim Lauderdale, Roland White, The Gibson Brothers, Miss Tess and her Talk Backs and a few more. Great to see the Nashville folks! Our last show was in Oxford MS where we played the Thacker Mountain Radio show, super nice folks! Next stop: Louisiana to play a show with Dirk Powell and celebrate Mardi Gras! We made our own costumes and took part in the Mardi Gras run, sadly interrupted due to the cold weather. Local folks said that was the coldest Mardi Gras they had experienced, frozen fingers, icy capuchons, but it didn’t stop us from having a great time!
After a couple of weeks off, we gathered again in DC to start a tour of the Mid Atlantic region, starting with Virginia at the Ashland Coffee and Tea. Great show, but even greater night because we got to stay with Miss Judy, the mother of our dear friends, The Fitzpatrick brothers! Thanks Judy! Then we went to Harrisonburg and played the Clementine Cafe. Had a great brunch with friends, first outside meal of the season, thanks Aviva and Roy! We drove to Pennsylvania and played the Holly Inn, great place! Back to DC to play the massive square dance. The street where the church was the only street in the whole city with no power, but that didn’t stop the nearly 500 avid dancers to shake a leg, lit up by the Christmas lights quickly hung on the walls, what a scene! Nothing prepared us for the next night in Amity, PA where we played the super funky Rinky Dinks Roadhouse! Wow, that was awesome! Cowboys riding saddles on barrels, whiskey flowing and new friends! We made our way back to DC to play Hill Center, and then headed out to North Carolina for the week. We stayed in Aberdeen for a few days to play school shows and performed at the Rooster’s Wife. Thanks to Janet, Jake and Sam for their wonderful hospitality! We made our way to Asheville to play the Isis with our good friends Town Mountain and finished the tour at the ArtsCenter in Carborro.
Did a session at WAMU!
Rinky Dinks Roadhouse!
Square Dance in DC!
We’re now all ready for Germany and UK, looking forward to seeing everyone there!
First, the nutshell version….then read on for more detail…
Yes indeed, we’ve gone off to the other side of the world to share our music with those people way down there! But not before a little stop in the Hawaiian Islands! But first, to catch you up, as it’s been quite some time since the last update… You may want to grab a cuppa and a comfy chair, because there is a lot to say….
That’s because the fall was so busy! In early September, Foghorn had a couple of weeks off, so Sammy and Nadine toured for a few shows with Jesse Lege and Joel Savoy around the West Coast. Reeb and Caleb used that time to do a few shows with the Caleb Klauder Country Band, and then headed out to Central Washington to help build a dancehall empire for the hitchin’ of Reeb’s sister. The Willms’ really came together to put on a heck of a party out on the farm!
Then we all came back together for a tour that took us first to the Bay Area for the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention, where we played a square dance and concert with Dirk Powell, and a Cajun dance with Suzy and Eric Thompson. from there we flew out the Midwest for the Boats and Bluegrass Festival out on the banks of the Mississippi. We also played in Madison, and ended the tour in Minneapolis with a double bill with our pals, the Cactus Blossoms. We had a nice time visiting with Sammy’s family with a little celebration for him and Nadine, the newlyweds!
October took us on a long tour where we drove and drove. We played our first gig in Boise, a house concert there, then headed for Winnemucca to perform at the Martin Hotel, and in typical fashion, it was an epic night for music there. Maybe the big Basque supper had something to do with it, but I think it’s the people. They really come out of the woodwork around there, and they are ready for a good time! We played a house concert in Salt Lake that next day, and then we carried on all the way to Moab where we were scheduled to play a wedding there. I’ll never forget the band of brothers on the dance floor, one of whom was the groom, laughing and dancing late into the night. Rowdy bunch they were. We had a couple of days off driving to LA then, where we played at the Mint. It’s ironic how the biggest cities, sometimes make for the least energetic shows. I think people must just have too much to do all the time in the city. We had a night off again then and got to spend a rejuvenating day in Big Sur with some friends on their beautiful farm on the bluffs above the sea. We finished that crazy driving tour teaching a long weekend workshop at Walker Creek Ranch near Petaluma. Then it was rush home and pack up everything we needed for a month long tour to Hawaii and Australia. A couple of days at home hardly felt like enough, but sometimes, that’s how life is for us… Now onto the big tour down under!
We had the pleasure of stopping off in the fair Hawaiian islands for four days for a gig en route to Aussie. Our good pals Lucas Hicks and Jenny Lara joined us there, Hicks hired to call squares, and Lara to oversee and photograph. Needless to say, we enjoyed ourselves fully there, jumping in the sea, drinking piña coladas, and enjoying the tropical clime. We were there four days, and only had one performance, so we really got to relax! Hicks and Lara went back to the mainland, and we four Foghorns went on to have a fabulous nearly month-long tour of Australia, starting out with a bang at a sweet festival in the small village of Dorrigo, and played around 21 shows up and down New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, and Victoria, getting as far south as Melbourne before we made our way back to Sydney to go our respective ways.
We all managed to avoid death by crocodile, shark, spider or snake, and the worst we had to deal with was the intense sunlight, petting baby animals, and the immensely friendly people. They can really talk! Our tour went over famously, and each night it seemed the house was full, and the audience enthusiastic, welcoming, and appreciative. We enjoyed meeting and befriending folks all along the way who took us in and hosted us at their homes, giving us the richest experience four traveling musicians could have. The landscape was gorgeous, and we saw some very different regions along our way. We had our share of friendly animal experiences as well… which actually started with a lack of animal sightings altogether, particularly of kangaroos which everyone said we’d see absolutely everywhere. This spawned Caleb’s latest pop hit: I Don’t Believe In Kangaroos. Later however, we saw a great many kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, strange birds, pythons; it’s like all those National Geographic photos were real! Caleb altered the words of his song to fit and thankfully ceased to sing it multiple times a day God bless him.
After the tour, Sammy and Nadine headed for the Yukon via Hawaii, and I can only imagine the temperature extremes they’ve experienced! Caleb and Reeb went off for a short duo tour of New Zealand and then home to Portland. What an adventure we all had! Not to mention, I sort of feel like we cheated a bit getting a couple extra months of summer weather!
And now, for more detail… If you aren’t bored yet, I will reflect further….
Hawaii. October 17-21, 2013. We were hired to play at a conference and by golly if they didn’t put us up at the Four Seasons Resort for four nights! Not to mention we shared the bill with a classical violinist and cellist, as well as Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead! The conference was held on the island of Lanai, which, though some among us had been to Hawaii before (the three gals) none had been to Lanai before.
As aforementioned, we hired Lucas Hicks to come along as our square dance caller, and his fair sidekick Jenny Lara came along to oversee and photograph the event. Now, we kept ourselves plenty busy with swims in the warm blue sea multiple times a day and night, snorkeling, walks in the forest, looking out for dolphins, proper games of croquet on the vast and perfectly manicured croquet lawns, glow in dark putt putt golf on a world class 18 hole course, and perhaps the pinnacle of our existence there, drinking piña coladas in the salt water hot tub in the salt water pool, overlooking the ocean!
Now, we may be worldly, but I guess we weren’t quite used to being waited on hand and foot. Not that it was too hard to get used to. Seemed like every time I turned around, someone was offering me some kind of towel. “Hot towel Miss?” “Cold towel Miss?” “Miss, would you like a beach towel?” “Would you like a dry towel Miss?” Not to mention, we merely had to appear at the beach before someone was setting out a chaise lounge with an umbrella, and offering us some cold sliced fruit, a smoothie, or an Evian spritz. Totally used to that now.
As ridiculously luxurious as it was, and as much as I think it absurd that people pay loads of money for vacations like that when there is simply so much to be thankful for, and much good work yet to be done in the world, I will say, it was an unforgettable experience, and we made the most of it after an extremely busy tour schedule this year. It was quite relaxing and rejuvenating, and everyone needs that in some form. Did I mention that when we would come back to our rooms after an afternoon at the beach, the blinds would be drawn, bed covers turned back, ice bucket filled, and any stray clothes left about would be neatly folded at the foot of the bed?
Now, Australia! October 22 – November 18, 2013. We followed in the footsteps of Sammy and Nadine, who toured Australia last year at this time. Foghorn Stringband was eagerly awaited by folks in Australia, and that made our trip quite fulfilling. Thanks to Nadine who booked us a grand tour! It would have been much harder to leave Lanai if it hadn’t been for the fact that our next adventure awaited. We said our goodbyes to Hicks and Lara. I can’t believe no one offered me a hot towel upon my arrival in Sydney! Furthermore, we were sprayed with pesticide, while still in the quarantine, a routine entry into Australia. They should take some hospitality lessons from the Hawaiians! With all respect, the Australians proved to be very hospitable. We stayed that first night in Sydney at the home of Wags, Caleb’s mother’s friend from high school. And though we wouldn’t meet her until later in the trip, she left us a sweet note, comfortable beds, and a bagful of snacks and wine for our trip. Now that’s hospitality! We drove about 6 hours the next day, with a stop off at our new friends Dougie and Glenny Rae’s house to pick up the bass we would be borrowing for the entire tour. Most generously, the rental fee was a case of cheap Australian beer. Thank goodness for bass player karma! We arrived in Dorrigo after a windy canyon drive in the dark, landing at the Dangar Falls Lodge, our home for the weekend festival, sponsored by our musician friends the Dears, who joined us there and cooked beautiful meals all weekend.
Next morning we awoke to the strangest sounds! Caleb and Nadine described it as an old-timey dial up router mixed with all sorts of loud foreign monkey jungle sounds. Well, it was just birds, but seriously! It was the strangest and most delightful thing to wake up to at dawn! The view from our veranda was of the plateau, rolling green hills, eucalyptus trees, sheep and cattle grazing. Kangaroos? Not yet! We started the weekend teaching a two-day workshop that included instruction on guitar, singing, fiddle, and mandolin. Then the Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival began. And a fine festival it was, quaint and intimate, yet full of energy and enthusiasm from young and old. The concerts were held in an old wooden hall, and at night the place was packed wall to wall, and with people peering in from the wide-open side doors. This was probably our biggest audience of the tour. Outside under the stars, a few hot barrel fires staved off the chilly night air, and folks carried on into the wee hours playing sessions or enjoying the scene. There were lots of Australian bands featured in the festival, many of whom we befriended and would run into later in the tour. It was a bang up way to commence our Australian tour, and the Dears kept us good company and well imbibed at the lodge.
When it was time to leave Dorrigo, we had a Monday night off and were kindly hosted by our friends The Pitts Family Circus on their beautiful farm in Barker’s Vale. Where the @#!&! is Barker’s Vale? They taught us how to play backyard cricket (which I think may have been a very dumbed-down version for the benefit of all) and we grilled some good food and had a fire under the stars. They warned us not to walk around barefoot as there were very poisonous snakes about. Earlier in the night they had showed us the underbelly of a resident python living in the kitchen rafters. No big deal! Next night in the nearby town of Kyogle, we played in the beautiful Memorial Institute Hall, sharing the bill with the Barkers Vale Brothers, (related to the Pitts Family Circus). It was a fine show and well attended. We drove to Stokers Siding the next day, with the Barker’s Vale Brothers to play a private party. We stopped on the way for a nice swim in a forest river swimming hole. Local lore claims it is so deep the bottom has never been found. In Stoker’s Siding at the next-door vintage shop, Caleb discovered in the window something he could not live without: genuine, antique crocodile shoes! Only problem was, he couldn’t quite squeeze his feet into them. Luckily, his trusty sidekick Reeb, with feet just slightly more petite, took it for the team and kept those shoes within Caleb’s scope of ownership. Now what am I supposed to do with a pair of croc shoes?! They are actually quite beautifully made, just a bit eccentric. (Note: I later forgot my dress shoes in Sydney, departed Australia, and ended up having only the croc shoes to wear for each and every gig we played in New Zealand!!) That night we stayed in the town of Bellingen, located in a region called the Promised Land, and for good reason, with some dear friends, Scott and Jay and their two sweet kids. And we stayed with Jay’s very sweet folks the next night in Kinkumber over in Central Coast, after playing at a local restaurant, Lizotte’s for a small, but very warm audience. They had the coziest little house and next morning, Nadine got to feed a resident wild parrot, yes, they have brilliant rainbow colored parrots just flying around like a bunch of sparrows in Australia. No big deal. Kangaroos? No sightings yet.
It was by then November 1, and we drove south to Wollongong, home to one of the most beautiful clear water beaches I’ve ever seen. Since we had some time before our sound check, Sammy and Nadine remembered a great fish shop on the way to the beach and we picked up some oysters and prawns and had a nice messy lunch sitting in the sand, the mess easily remedied by a jump in the sea afterward. We all had a great time body surfing in the waves, and Caleb was the stronghold, playing in the waves for what seemed like hours. I guess his grandpa was quite an expert body surfer, so the passion must’ve trickled down through the genes. Another great thing about Australia is that everywhere you go near the coast there are free saltwater swimming pools! They pump in ocean water and goodness, who needs chlorine?! So nice for getting some good exercise! Wollongong’s pool was Olympic sized, and Australians young and old were keeping fit. We played that night at the local veteran’s club, and stayed with our Australian sponsor, Val and her husband Wayne.
Next, off to the big city of Sydney! And what an iconic city it is, and not only because of the famous opera house. It also has a great energy about it, huge remarkable botanical gardens right in the middle of the city, planted with plants and trees originating from every corner of the earth, and beautiful beaches round every corner of the extensive harbor waterways and outer coastline. We got to explore for a couple days here as we played in the city two nights. Our friends Jacinta and Terry hosted us, as well as Wags again. We played at the Sydney Old Time Get Together the first night, and several bands performed and lots of folks crammed into the hall with ladies in the back cooking up delicious sausage rolls and cakes. The second night we played a packed house at the Roxbury Hotel.
We traveled next to the state of ACT, the small capital state, and the city of Canburra. Everyone warned us it may be terribly boring there, what with all the politicians and beaurocrats everywhere, but I have to say, they were wrong! This must be thanks in part to our hosts, Donal and Carrie Baylor who helped promote the show. Donal is a well-known Australian bluegrass player who we had met in Dorrigo. We played at a tiny coffeehouse bar and art gallery called The Front. And though the night began slowly, it ended with a bang, a crowded house cheering and cheering. For a Tuesday night, those beaurocrats and office workers came out strong! The next morning was the morning we finally saw our kangaroos; of course, Sammy and Nadine had already had the experience the previous year when they had toured Australia as a duo, but for Caleb and I it was a first! We went on a morning walk in the hills at the edge of town and came upon a vast mob of kangaroos! We were able to get quite close for some good photos, and even saw some with joeys in the pouch! Caleb believed in kangaroos at last!
Next we found ourselves in the tiny village of Yea. We played a house concert style gig there at the local community house. Our good pal from Ireland, currently living in Melbourne, Suzy McCarthy came out for the show and it was a small but warm crowd, a sold out show. I think they need to find a bigger venue! You think Yea is wacky town name, guess what they call themselves? Yealians! They even have t-shirts, which each of us now own. We found the Southern Cross that night looking up at the stars after the show. Thursday the 7th we carried on with Suzy to Melbourne to play at a charming venue called the Northcote Social Club. Melbourne is quite a nice city, and we were hosted by Suzy there. Her housemates were very courteous to comply to her bringing the likes of us into their very crowded house. The show was grand and we shared the bill with a creative duo we’d met in Dorrigo called Oh Pep.
Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival kept us working through the weekend, and we played all the cheerful blues fiddle tunes we could think of. We got in a visit to the Bendigo Woollen Mills, a local mecca for knitters, and got Nadine all stocked up for her latest project. We played in a bar, in the park, taught workshops, played at a hotel, and ended the festival with an epic Sunday night show in the basement of the Gold Mine Hotel in a tiny stone room that was packed to the gills with people. It soon got very warm in there from all the body heat, and there was a row of hip, handsome young lads sitting on the floor right in front of the stage, gazing up at us with admiration! It’s always such a pleasant surprise when young “cool kids” think old time music is super cool! ‘Cause it is of course! And they should think that! I think we all could have played there for hours more. But the show had to end sometime, and we had a long drive to our lodgings that night out in Blackwood, the tiny mountain town where our friends the Dears live. We were hosted all weekend by a very hospitable Scottish couple, Richard and Aeysha at their beautiful homestead out in the countryside. They fed us lavishly from the garden, we ate our first kangaroo, and Richard, being a wine-maker, kept us quite lubricated by insisting that we sample all of his wines! Needless to say, we were a cheerful group at their place!
Hard to believe at this point in the tour that we had but a week left in Australia. Time flies as they say. Blackwood was a restful place for us, even though we stayed up late with the Dears all three nights we were there. Down south there it was still quite chilly at night, and we came home late to their cold and seemingly empty house. But the far off sounds of merriment came to our ears, sounding a bit like a radio left on in some distant room, and we discovered the lot of them holed up in the parlor with a roaring fireplace, for they’d played a gig that night too, and the house hadn’t warmed up yet, and soon enough we had glasses of scotch in hand and our tiredness was staved off awhile longer.
They put on a workshop and concert there at the Blackwood Academy next day, housed in a charming little church in the center of town, and afterwards, everyone gathered at the local cafe for a delicious dinner prepared for us there. We had the day off next day, and I think we did mostly nothing at all and it was quite nice! Nadine and Lache (one of the Dear sons) prepared a delicious dinner for our final night there, and topped it off with the most amazing date cake! Holy crap it was mouth watering!
We played on Nov. 12 at the Berrinja Cafe in Upwey, a burb outside Melbourne. And the next night at the town pub in Yinnar, a small town with a huge showing! They said about 800 live in the town and I think the house was sold out at around 200! That is a high ratio of attendance! We were hosted and fed by the local stringband, an epic 13-member band – a bunch of characters who pretty much founded the local music scene, and host a regular jam to get more locals of all ages out to learn and play music. Cool scene. Another highlight of Yinnar was that one of the string band members took us to see his friend who runs her own grassroots animal shelter. And that really was an amazing experience. She’s got a big heart, devoting herself to saving baby animals! She had wombats, kangaroos, an owl, wallabies… And we got to hold them and bottle feed them, and holy crap, wombats are soooo cute!
We had a day off and drove north and arrived late at John and Pam’s homestead in Narrigundah, a small town up in the hills above Narooma. They were there to welcome us and help us settle in. We enjoyed a visit with them and got to wake up in the morning to their beautiful gardens and a lovely river flowing by. We had the day there to go on a walk (where we saw a shy liar bird!) and rest. That night we played a show nearby down some dirt country roads in the old Ag Bureau, a gorgeous corrugated metal building filled with good country folk and lotsof hors d’oeuvres and cookies. It was a rowdy show and some drove from as far as three hours away to see us play! We also saw possums who had infiltrated the green room! The next day we played in nearby Narooma at the Quarterdeck, a delicious restaurant that actually sits on pilings over the sea. Needless to say, fresh seafood was the fare, and the oysters harvested from just out the back door were about as fresh as you could get them! Raw with lemon! So good! The house was sold out and it was a great crowd.
We drove into Sydney on the 17th for our final show of the tour. We played again at the Roxbury Hotel, round two. The first was such a success that the promoter asked us if we’d do another before we left the country. We weren’t sure if people would come again, but I think it may have been even more packed than the first show! It was a bittersweet night, a great show, but sadly the end of our time in Australia! The next day, we all went our separate ways, Caleb and Reeb to New Zealand to play a little tour, and Sammy and Nadine for some shows and well-earned R&R in Hawaii, and then on to the Yukon for the holidays! To hear more about New Zealand, check out calebklauder.com, and to hear more about Hawaii and the Yukon, check out nadineandsammy.com. Thanks to Australia for a fine adventure!
Time sure flies by! Seems like we were just in July playing all the awesome festivals we got to be part of! It has been an awesome summer and we are so grateful for everyone who came to our shows, bought our CDs, bought us a beer, invited us in their homes, fed us delicious food and became new friends! This summer, we have traveled all over North America and got to see your kids, your pets, your gardens and it makes us so happy to see how many amazing people are out there, working hard at making this world a better place for all. Every time we get fed a home cooked meal from the backyard garden, every workshop we visit where we see talent and creativity expressed, every story we hear about community building and neighborhood get-togethers really warms our hearts and makes us believe that this world, however messed up it is, is packed with everyday heroes. Cheers to all of you!
We’re gearing up for a super busy fall! Heading to Boise ID, Winnemucca NV, Salt Lake City UT, Los Angeles, Winters and Petaluma CA in early October. Going home for a couple of days before heading to Hawaii for a private event on our way to Australia! Make sure to check out our schedule to see what’s going on and tell your friends!
Here’s the Australia tour! Mighty fine times ahead!!
Well summer is now in full swing and we are so excited to visit many old and new places! So far we had a blast at the Sacajawea Bluegrass Festival, Weiser as usual, and squeezed a few days at Fiddle Tunes and played the 4th and 5th of July on Orcas Island.