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.
I’m sitting on a train, a six hour trip, the perfect pause to ponder the last month of Foghorn travels. The first two weeks of March, though peppered with a few local gigs, was largely a time to rest and be at home. Much needed as usual. So, of course we all used that free time to do more traveling! Sometimes, getting quality time with family and friends can mean, getting home from a tour, then leaving again to visit on our freetime. This can feel very crazy, yes. But until the world comes to us when we are home, that is the way it will be.
We played some fun Portland shows in early March. One night we shared a double bill with our friends, Jackstraw, and the next day played the Every Sunday Square Dance, always a joy. Then came St Patty’s day at the ol’ Moon and Sixpence.
On March 18th it was time to hit the road again and set out on a tour to the east coast. Foghorn hadn’t been in the northeast for quite some time, but looking back on the tour, we were welcomed so warmly everywhere we went, that it felt like a homecoming! They told us to come back soon, and hopefully that will happen without years going by!
We flew to DC and met up with our dear booking agent and friend Martha, who, in typical fashion had delicious things to eat and drink set out for us, and welcomed us into the bosom of her home. We headed for Philadelphia next day in our white rented minivan, complete with our favorite feature: Stow and Go. This means there are secret large floor compartments where we can either stow unneeded seats, or even better, stash our stuff, making it possible for the car situation to feel considerably less cluttered with loose items, what with the four of us and our instruments and suitcases crammed in there. This way, random shoes, extra jackets, acquired gifts need not roam freely about the van. Sammy stashed his aviators in the overhead pop-out compartment and off we went.
March 19. Rafe & Nikki Stefanini hosted us that night outside of Philly. We stopped in before the show to drop off our bags and got to enjoy Rafe’s cappuccino skills as well as his collection of interesting guitars. I think I might need to find myself an old Kay Kraft But then, if I do, I might enter the slippery slope of guitar acquisition syndrome. I own two guitars and that’s one more than enough. It’s extra dangerous as I have two good friends that are up and coming guitar builders! A small shout-out: I’ve just received a brand new and beautiful small guitar built by my friend Devin Champlin. It looks and sounds gorgeous, and it’s called The Champ. I can tell already it’s going to live up to its name. We played a wonderful house concert at Kurt Asplundh’s home that evening. It was a great way to kick off the tour with a warm audience and lots of conversation.
March 20. New York New York! We hit it hard with two shows that night. The first was at a tiny underground bar called Zirzamin. Threading the bass down the steep narrow steps and through the tiny bar past the kitchen and into the bowels of the buildling we found the small music room, dark with candles and thick velvet curtains. Amazingly about 50 people crammed in there, and it was a great time, though the air was mighty stuffy by the end! After our show there, we headed over to Brooklyn and Jalopy for the Rhythm and Ruckus, a night of short music sets featuring lots of different artists. We got to finish out the night there with a 45 minute set at 12:30am. The churchlike theater has a small high stage, and rows of church pews to the back of the room. Much to our convenience, the owners, (who are from San Juan Island near where Caleb grew up) put us up in the upstairs of the building and they also owned the bar next door, where many of us ended up until the wee hours. Caleb was thrilled to wear his slippers in the bar knowing he merely had to trot upstairs at his whim. While we’re on the subject of Caleb, the Jalopy show also commenced the Caleb Cousin Tour since nearly every show of our two week tour it seemed he had one or more cousins in the audience!
March 21, 22, 23. The Parlor Room in Northhampton, Mass had a full house. We were kindly hosted by Missy and Dunston, two librarian/musicians. We played in Rosendale, NY the next day at a quaint and cozy café where we were well fed and much to our surprise played to a floor full of dancers all show. This sure does pump up the spirit, seeing everyone having so much fun. It is dance music afterall! The owner there has the right idea. He had an attitude of generosity and kindness in general, but in this case claimed that this way of being feeds the musicians who play with joy and generosity themselves thus making everyone more joyful. He’s right! If everyone lived that way, this world would be a different place! We stayed up in the woods on the edge of the Catskilss at our friends Mike and Ruthy’s home that night, pressing on to Montreal next day. Our time in Montreal was short but sweet. We got to stroll around a bit when we arrived, finally experiencing the golden deliciousness of fresh maple candy on a stick. We went on to have one of the most enthusiastic audiences of the tour, amazing considering Foghorn had never been to Montreal before. It was a packed house at the Petit Campus, and we promised, after pleading from the audience, to come back soon!
March 24. Our drive down from Montreal through rural Vermont was gorgeous. We arrived in Montpelier where we felt right at home immediately somehow. Lovely place with mountains surrounding and a river running through. The Skinny Pancake is a food venue with a localvore mission. It is so awesome to find places that care where their food comes from! They support local farmers by sourcing almost all of their food from right there in Vermont, and much of it organic! And it was frickin’ delicious! I don’t really know why that kind of business model is rare. I mean, I guess I do know, damn corporate capitalists, but just love seeing that it works and hoping that we move more in that direction. Put our money there I say! It was a sold out house that night with folks crammed into the small dining area. Vermonters feel like kin somehow.
March 25, 26. Over the mountains and through the woods to Caswell’s farm we go! Grey, Maine. She put on a good ol’ feast for us, a local and organic meal again! We played in her barn, even though I think it may have been below freezing. You can never tell with the spring weather. Could have easily been one of those warmer spring nights. But a few folks stuck it out anyhow for a Monday night. We cozied up by Caswell’s hearth later that night getting a good dose of woodstove warmth. We had to get going early the next morning to drive all the way to New Jersey. Our drive was thankfully faster than predicted, even going through NYC. We arrived in the small town of Chester-Peapack, NJ and were welcomed by our kind friend and host, Tim. We played that night at Bernie’s Hillside Lounge, a classic roadside dive on a country highway. This was a two cousin night. Our friend Jason was kind enough to put on the show. Our friends Hub Hollow opened for us and brought a bunch of folks out that night. And we were graced with the presence of our good friend and hero, Jesse Lege on stage for part of the night. He is one of my favorite singers, and he plays the accordian like there’s no tomorrow. Later that night we discovered kumquats sliced and soaked in whiskey. If you have never tried this, you should.
March 27, 28. Ashland Coffee and Tea in Ashland, VA is a true listening room. We had a great show there and jam with the locals afterwards. And continuing on with Caleb’s Cousin Tour 2013 we stayed in nearby Richmond with his 4 cousins. We got to rest there into the afternoon the next day and then droveo on to Carrboro, NC to play at the Arts Center. Carboro showed light attendance, but they were enthusiastic nonetheless and even got up dancing. We were graced by another hero of ours that night in the audience, Alice Gerrard. She is a wonderful lady, and a big inspiration, and I know you can’t wait to hear her new all original album that will be coming out soon. I never thought I’d see the day that the likes of Alice Gerrard would be watching me on stage! Humbling and joyful at the same time.
March 29 might need its own paragraph. We reunited with our friends Town Mountain who we spent a week teaching with in rural Saskatchewan last summer. It was a joyful moment and I think there was great anticipation for the show that night at the Grey Eagle in Ashville, NC. There was an all-star bill that night: Bradford Lee Folk, and Town Mountain shared the bill with us. Three acts for a packed house. If you’ve never heard these bands, check them out. Bradford’s voice is reminiscent of the best of the early bluegrass country singers. It was so much fun to share the night with all those talented musicians, and I know the whole room felt it. Needless to say, we all stayed up into the wee hours playing tunes in a Town Mountain Kitchen, eventually making our way to our beds before dawn. One cousin here. March 30 followed with another co-bill with Town Mountain at the Laurel Theater in Knoxville, TN. This was a 3 cousin night. Not before we all had a chance to play on WDVX that afternoon with our friends the Cactus Blossoms, a brother duo we’ve come to know. They happened to be in town and we gave them a little spot in our concert that night.
March 31 & April 1. Next day we headed for the wilds of Virginia, Crozet to be exact, where we were welcomed by the kindness of the Britton family. They know how to throw a heck of a party I’ll say. It was Easter, and they pulled out all the stops, cooking up a feast and moving the furniture out of the main floor of the house to make a dance floor. And put on a wild fireworks show at the intermission. We had a great night there, and thank the Brittons for their generous hospitality. Next morning, we made our way up to DC, stopping off to record a show on WAMU to be aired the following Saturday. Then we were welcomed back to where we started, Martha’s house, where we settled in before heading out to the Hill Center where our final performance of the tour would be housed. It was an old infirmary during the Civil War, now renovated to house events and concerts. This would be the final cousin sighting of the Caleb Cousin Tour 2013. This was a three-cousin night as well. The packed crowd that night was warm and welcoming, even for a Monday night! It was a great end to our tour. We got to walk around the capital the next morning and even toured Smithsonian Folkways thanks to John Smith. We got to see the archives that contained so much amazing music history, including, handwritten notes from Woody Guthrie, and original reels of tape from all sorts of famous musical heros. It was awe inspiring to say the least.
All told we all made it back home to Portland for a week of rest before venturing out to the north by car to Bellingham and BC. We had a rowdy Wednesday night showing at the Green Frog Tavern in Bellingham. We then went out to Vancouver Island on one of those brilliant sunny spring days that make the maritime NW seem so perfect. So easy to forget the multitude of dark wet days. We spent a day up at Qualicum Beach hosted by our friends Joyce and John Beaton who put on a fine and rowdy house concert. There was a whole room full of people singing Caleb’s Sick, Sad, and Lonesome, not to mention dancers cutting a rug on the tiny piece of open floor space. The night went on into the wee hours with a load of folks playing Scottish fiddle tunes.
We drove south to Victoria the next day for a two-day Tidal Wave as they called it. We played a concert at the Fernwood Church Friday night, taught workshops the next day, and played a big square dance Saturday night, called by Charmaine Slaven. It was great fun all around and in no small way because of our fine hosts, Shanti and Kelly, and our chief cook, Larry. We had some wonderful meals together.
Our last show was a house concert on Bowen Island at the home of Sue and Bob Doucet. They opened their beautiful old house to the community. It has a perfect sunken room for a concert. We taught workshops that afternoon as well. Next day, we all headed our separate ways, Sammy and Nadine went off to Quebec to see friends and family, and Caleb and myself headed south to Portland and Bellingham respectively.
Now we all have a couple of weeks until we go out again for weekend mini tours all throughout May. Spring and summer is a fine time to be about the NW! We’re looking forward to it!
I’m sitting here by the fire at home, thinking back on our recent tour in the Midwest. Here in Portland, a wood fire sometimes feels like the only thing that could take the damp chill out of my bones. It was nice to get a dose of dry, snowy, sunny, cold winter out in the Midwest. We started the tour in Chicago on February 12, where Caleb and myself met up with Sammy and Nadine who had already spent a couple weeks out in Wisconsin and Minnesota visiting friends and family there. We took a stroll around downtown Chicago, my first chance to acclimatize to the icy Midwest weather. It was Mardi Gras, and while Chicago shyly sat in their seats at the City Winery as we played dance music all night, they were a warm and welcoming crowd. City Winery was a great venue and even labeled a Foghorn Stringband wine for us! I brought home a commemorative bottle, and as it’s a white wine, will hold out for a warm spring day to enjoy it. Thanks to Colleen for hosting us that night!
Wednesday we drove south to Champaign-Urbana where we had a little radio interview in the afternoon, then played that night at a good old bar called the Iron Post. We played there last year as well, and both times had a great crowd packed in there who wouldn’t let us leave the stage at the end of the show. Thanks to Tom and Carol for hosting us! Thursday we drove on down to ol’ St. Louis, crossing the Mississippi. Since we had a little time to spare, we took ourselves right over to the St. Louis Arch. For those of you that have not been there, I will describe our experience: One enters the arch from beneath it, underground. We had to pass through a small security check.
Once inside, the whole place had that familiar smell and feeling of a national park visitor’s center, warm and safe and educational. When we finally made it to the elevator, we discovered that it wasn’t an elevator at all, but instead these funny little futuristic pods with five white plastic seats in each, lit with bright white light. Once the 4-foot doors closed, only a little window revealed the inner structure of the arch as we climbed up and up. It was a little unnerving, imagining the tragic end should the cables supporting our dangling, rattling pod give way. Nonetheless we made it to the top. Exiting our pod, we made our way to the viewing room, a small hallway, the curved tippy-top of the arch. Narrow windows revealed a breathtaking view of sprawling St. Louis with its freeway interchanges and tall buildings on the Missouri side, and the muddy Mississippi and Illinois flatland on the other. The cars and people below were tiny specks from 600+ feet in the air. Amazing. After awhile of staring down from the heights, we descended in our pod to get to a radio interview. Off Broadway was the venue that night, complete with a dance floor. It was Valentine’s Day so we tried to sing plenty of love songs from a variety of perspectives: positive love songs, lost love songs, cheating songs, murder ballads, you name it. We didn’t want to leave anyone out. Something for the romantics as well as the jaded.
Next day we had a long drive to Bloomington, Indiana. Again we had to arrive in time for a radio interview. By the way, I can’t speak for my band mates, but I have to say, I love being on the radio. Hopefully many of you share the sense of magic and mystery surrounding the radio that I do. Every time we are on the radio I think it’s so remarkable that we are playing live music that all kinds of people who I have never seen, and will never see, can hear right then, in that moment!! May the radio never die! We played that night at a bar called Max’s place right in downtown Bloomington. It was packed and loud and rowdy, and a good old time. Thanks to Sam and Abby and young’uns for hosting us at their cozy home that night. If you’ve never heard of Stuntology, check it out. Sam wrote this amazing guide, just don’t let it fall into the wrong hands!
February 16th and 17th took us north to Kalamazoo, Michigan for the Great Lakes Acoustic Music Association’s winter festival. It’s always strange to have a festival indoors in a hotel… yet what else would we do in the winter? We arrived in time to check in and Caleb and Sammy went off to be on respective workshop panels for their instruments. We played a big square dance that afternoon called by our pal T Claw, and then later that evening performed a slot in the evening’s concert. It was a big warm audience, and there was a loyal crowd of dancers flatfooting, ending the concert dancing in front of the stage for us while we played the last tune. The next morning after an amazing Sunday breakfast at a local restaurant, we went off to teach workshops at a music center nearby. Afterward, we got to spend a quiet evening with our hosts Jim & Marilyn by their roaring cozy fire out the country. They fed us fresh eggs from their chickens for breakfast and sent us away with a gorgeous dozen for the road. I finished the last egg on the last day of the tour. There is just no substitute for a fresh egg.
Monday Feb. 18th, we had the day off which was convenient considering we had a 6-7 hour drive ahead of us. We drove to Viroqua, Wisconsin and had the evening to visit with a few friends we knew in the area. Even though we generally tend to avoid it in the interest of working as much as we can while on the road, it’s always a bit restorative to have a day off during a tour, especially in the company of good friends. Tuesday we only had a short drive to Lancaster, WI where we re-met some very kind folks, Jeff & Erin, who had seen us play the year before and hired us to come play in their barn. Yes, I said barn. You might think that would be cold… I thought I was going to have wear like three layers of tights and all my sweaters, but quite the contrary. This little barn was such a beautiful space for a concert. A big woodstove in the corner was filled to gills to get the place as toasty as could be, and all around the soft weathered wooden room were gorgeous antique wood chairs of all shapes and sizes. The lucky folks were those who got the cushioned rockers I shouldn’t wonder. We got to play unamplified, always a treat for us, and it was a very intimate and lovely concert. Outside the icy winds were a-blowin’ but we thought nothing of it in that cozy barn.
Wednesday we drove east to Madison where we played that night at the High Noon Saloon. This was the day that first Sammy, then Caleb came down with some kind of nasty flu or cold or something. They were tough cookies the rest of the tour, performing each night and keeping on. The High Noon showed a good turnout that night, helped by our opening band Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, a sweet & rowdy bunch of young men who would also open for us at Leo and Leona’s a couple of days later. We stayed that night with Todd and Lily Cambio. Todd builds the gorgeous Fraulini guitars, check ‘em out.
Thursday we headed north to Stevens Point, WI to play at the university. It added good variety to our shows to see our audience, a raving, freestyle-dancing pack of college students going nuts over old time music! Gotta love it. The following day we drove a few hours to a rural venue near Bangor, WI called Leo & Leona’s Tavern and Dance Hall. With a name like that, it was everything good I had imagined. Places like that are little gems that should never die. The country dance hall is unfortunately a rarity these days. If you have one near you, please use it and save it! True to name, the people did dance. And the place was packed! It was a really fun show. I’m always pleasantly surprised in rural places at the enthusiasm and appreciation people have for music. It can more rewarding than playing the fanciest urban venues.
Saturday we drove up to Minneapolis and landed at the Lind household. It’s always fun to hang out with Sammy’s family and walk down memory lane with him as he points out landmarks of his childhood there. We had time to rest and take a sauna before we left to meet our friends the Cactus Blossoms for a beautiful dinner, in possibly the cutest coziest apartment I’ve ever seen, in downtown Minneapolis. There was borscht, and salad, and warm crusty bread. The Cactus Blossoms would share the bill with us that night at Lee’s Liquor Lounge. This terrific band features a brother duet with a synchronicity reminiscent of the Louvins or something. We traded sets with them through the night and kept the folks dancing up a storm on that shiny, waxed, impeccable dance floor. Minneapolis has a healthy clogging community, so there were lots of dancers flat-footing to the fiddle tunes, a too-rare treat for us. That place was a gem as well, despite the incredibly rude staff. The basement green room was a time capsule, immaculately clean, not a speck of dust to be seen on any of the 50+ trophies, perfectly spaced from one another on shelves lining the room around vinyl lounge chairs, Formica tables, neon lights and beer signs. It was a pleasure to share the night with the Cactus Blossoms.
Next day, Sunday the 24th would be our last show of the tour. It was a beautiful sunny snowy day. We played a lovely concert at St. James Lutheran Church in Burnsville at 4 in the afternoon. Sammy’s mother Lynne and Aunt Debbie baked over 100 cookies for the intermission surely ensuring that folks would stick around for the second set. We had plenty of time that night to relax and pack our bags. Even had time to jump in the sauna again and get a good night’s sleep. Thanks to Mark and Lynne for hosting us! We flew home to Portland the following morning. It was a fun and successful tour! Thanks to all the folks along the way who made it a good one!
We’ll be either off or playing locally for a couple of weeks until the second half of March when we head out to the East Coast. Check out our tour dates there and tell your friends to come see us!
Sammy and Nadine are still down under on their epic tour of Australia. I have hear a few stories and it sounds like they are getting the full tour of the country heading out to far off places and making wonderful friends. I assure you they are still alive and well. I’m not sure but they might have adopted a baby kangaroo! I saw a picture os Sammy cuddling a joey (baby kangaroo) wrapped in a blanket.
Reeb and Caleb have just returned home from the Bluegrass Jamboree tour in Germany. It was a winter wonderland for sure over there. . We traveled by bus with two other bands and the organizers. We played 18 show in 19 days. it was a whirlwind but it was amazing and the crowds were amazing. We even went to the Hofbrauhaus in Munich!Thats Caleb and PJ George from Bearfoot. Ah Hofbrau Dunkle!! (Dark Beer)
X-Man came along as well. The food was great and the Christmas markets had Gluwein!!
Its good to be back in the good ‘ol U.S of A. though. Just in time for the holidays.
Don’t forget about our two newest Albums of 2012. They make great christmas presents!!!
Thank you for all of your fabulous support, we appreciate all that you share with us. Happy Holidays
Posted on December 20, 2012.
Ever seen a Saguaro cactus?
Foghorn Stringband has just returned from a tour of the great states of Arizona and New Mexico. We have been calling it our tourist tour as we actually had time to explore some amazing places along the way instead of how it often is with just enough time to drive to the next gig. Our tour began in Tombstone, AZ Friday the 7th at the Tombstone Livery, a ranch known for its wild west Leadville shooting contests. We played there for a warm crowd of locals, some of whom even dressed in period clothing for the evening’s concert! Saturday we headed for Silver City, NM and the Pickamania Festival held in the city park. It turned out to be a wonderful community festival and we had a lot of folks up dancing in front of the stage. Jeanne and Ken, of Bayo Seco hosted a great party attended by locals and musicians from the festival. Easily the most impressive guest at the party was 89-year old Antonia Apodaca, a tiny Mexican-American accordian player with more energy and zest for life than most folks young or old. What a firecracker! She claimed her doctors were red & green chilis, and her nurses were tortillas and pinto beans. Whatever you say Antonia! It seems to be working!
Sunday we headed for Bisbee, AZ, a strange and beautiful little mining town set in a narrow valley. The copper mines have been closed since the 70’s. All that is left are some mine shafts here and there, and an enormous tailings pile next to a dizzyingly deep pit mine downstream of the town. We played at a brand new venue called the Bisbee Royale. Any worries about it being a new venue were quickly dispelled. They treated us well, and had an excellent sound guy who even played the likes of the Carter Family and Hank Williams between sets instead of some vibe-killing death metal or something. The show was well attended by an enthusiastic local crowd that warmed us right into a frenzy of fiddle tunes and songs.
Monday we had no gig, so we made the most of it by getting up early and starting the day off tracing the route of the Bisbee 1000! The Bisbee 1000 is a race that occurs each year, equivalent to the fun runs of other towns, only this one routes up and down some of the many staircases of the town that scale hills no street could, bringing residents to their homes. Bisbee residents must have highly oxygenated blood and brains thanks to all that stair climbing! We poked around the antique stores, were treated well at Santiagos, a delicious restaurant of Mexican fare owned by one of last night’s concert attendees. Some of us took a tour of the Queen Mine, going deep into the mountainside. And late in the day we drove to Sierra Vista, hosted for the evening by kind folks John and Marcia, and their strange circling Pomeranian, Charlie who compulsively went clockwise, whether standing in place or while walking across the room.
Tuesday John and Marcia took us for a gorgeous hike at Coronado National Park. From the mountaintop we looked straight down in to Mexico, and upon the border with Mexico, a fence in one direction as far as the horizon, and a road in the other. Border patrol trucks drove by about every ten mintues, back and forth on the road. Tax dollars at work I guess. We headed for Tucson and a house concert at Jacquie Wohl’s place. It was a small but cozy evening concert. Wednesday we hit up the Desert Museum, (thanks Jerry and Jacquie for the guest passes), a fascinating place full of plants and animals of the desert. And all of it surrounded by forests of giant saguaro cactus. We landed in Phoenix that afternoon at Carolyn Camp’s lovely home just in time to settle in and teach an evening of workshops. Thursday we spent a good part of the day filling our heads with all the sights and sounds of the Musical Instrument Museum. That place is fascinating! You walk around displays of instruments from all different regions of the world and genres of music. As you approach each display, the relevant music fills your ears at the same time you are watching a video of the instruments being played! Wow. In our humble opinion, they need to do a bit of work on the old time stringband, bluegrass, Cajun, country, Canadian, & Irish exhibits. They were pretty bare bones and had the nerve to include Bela Fleck in the bluegrass display, and not Bill Monroe! What gives? In all the world, it truly seemed like the Africans were having the most fun, hands down. After an amazing dinner at the Parlor, Carolyn hosted a house concert back at her place.
Friday and Saturday we found ourselves in the piney hills of Flagstaff, AZ, at the Pickin’ in the Pines festival. Now, I wouldn’t say we would ever expect to be treated like royalty, but when it happens, heck, it sure is nice! The Pickin’ in the Pines folks have it nailed when it comes to treating the performers with kindness and generosity. Seemed like every time I turned around, someone was offering me something to drink or eat, a chair, or asking me if I needed anything. And it was hands-down the best festival food ever; featuring fresh tossed organic salads, and salmon grilled on site. The concert sets were wonderfully received by an attentive, enthusiastic audience. And we played two great dances as well. It was an excellent way to end our tour. Sunday we left the festival and flew back to the NW and had a “Moon Landing”, playing til nearly 2am at the Moon and Sixpence.
Since our return we have played shows in Bellingham, Seattle, and Portland to party down in honor of our new album Outshine the Sun. We’ve been selling it all summer, so I guess we can’t really call it a cd release, but we’ve been so busy, we haven’t had a chance to properly celebrate yet! It was great fun to play for our home crowds. Our friend Caroline Oakley called a rowdy dance at the Portland show. In October we’ll be traveling to Edmonton Alberta to teach, and at the end of October you’ll find us in Lafayette, Louisiana at the Black Pot music festival eating, dancing, listening to some great Cajun music, and playing tunes!
No rest for the wicked! Straight after our return from Europe, we headed south to the Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival in Grass Valley. We got to spend time under the tall pine trees, picking and enjoying the dry Northern California weather. We couldn’t get too comfortable though, right after our last set at 5pm, we jumped in the car and drove 9 hours straight to Weiser, ID for a few days of pure happiness! Songs, tunes, jokes, friends, cocktails, garage sales, we did it all and had a blast!
Weiser couldn’t last too long because other adventures awaited us! You see, that’s the thing with touring, never enough time in one place, but always something awesome to look forward to! In this case, we all went to Alaska, Nome to be more precise, where the Caleb Klauder Country Band was performing for the Midnight Sun Folk Festival. Some of us did the Polar Bear Swim AKA jumping in the Bering Sea! Great weekend, new friends, expensive food ($13 for a pound of bacon, what, what?) and midnight sun peaking through the clouds.
Coming out of the bar at 2AM!!
Only in Nome: Velvet Eyes, the pet reindeer!
Caleb's Country Band in the parade!
While Reeb and Caleb flew back down to the lower 48 to attend VoiceWorks in lovely Port Townsend, WA, Sammy and I stayed in the North to visit friends, Anchorage, Homer (McDonald’s Spit, you rock!)! Then we met back at Fiddle Tunes and saw a lot of I-5 since we drove down to Portland to play theWaterfront Blues Festival with Jesse Lege, Joel Savoy and the Cajun Country Revival, then back up to play the Cajun dance at Fiddle Tunes.
Sunset OR sunrise just south of Homer, AK
Sammy's catch! 2 halibuts!
The weekend after Reeb and her family welcomed us to their family ranch to celebrate the 2nd annual Farmer Social in Central Washington. Tunes, songs, dances, horse shoes, everything was there for a great time. Thanks to the Willms,the weekend, although too short, was a big success!
The following was epic! Our friends The Cactus Blossoms came into town and played a few shows in town. I celebrated my birthday. Had my friend Weebee in town. And to top off the week, Pickathon happened! What a week. Foghorn played the annual crazy, steep, beautiful square dance at the Main Stage, Cajun Country Revival rocked and the Cactus Blossoms charmed everyone. Take a look at those videos!
Then Cajun Country Revival did a little tour of the Northwest (Port Townsend, Vashon Island, Seattle and Conway) and we all played the kick off of the Subdued Stringband Jamboree in Bellingham, awesome night!! Thanks to Laurel and John for their hospitality!
We left early the next day and headed to Medical Lake, near Spokane to perform at the Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival. We played a few sets and joined forces on Saturday night with Dirk Powell! Here he is on the front cover of the festival program! GO Dirk!
Dirk rocking the festival brochure front page
We drove back to Seattle on Sunday to catch a 6am flight to Saskatoon to be met by stellar Ken, our driver and new friend who took us to the Northern Lights Old Tyme & Bluegrass Camp and Festival. What a great week! We taught really cool people and played for the best dancers and darn, we even got to see the northern lights bust a move! Thanks to everyone for showing us a good time in Northern Saskatchewan. Awesome to hang out with amazing bluegrass band Town Mountain, check ‘em out when you have a minute!
Then don’t miss the first (hopefully annual) Blackberry Bluegrass Festival on Sauvie Island on September 1st. Caleb’s country band will be playing as well as Foghorn.
The following week will take us to Flagstaff, Arizona (Pickin’ in the Pines) and Silver City, New Mexico (Pickamania) and gigs in Phoenix, Tucson and Bisbee in between. We’ll tell you all about it later!
Happy harvests, enjoy the cool breeze turning warm summer nights into “Gee! I need a sweater”, and see you down the road!
Well, it’s finally getting on toward summer and Foghorn has just returned from a month long tour in Europe. Since we hit the ground running when we got home, it’s taken a few weeks to get our Europe stories up on the website. We had a great time traveling and playing music all over Ireland & the UK, Switzerland and France. Needless to say, after playing 23 shows in 30 days, and traveling through 6 countries, there are many stories to tell about all the places we’ve been, & people we’ve met.
May 1. We began in Northern Ireland with a house concert at the Red Room in Cookstown, and I must say, the concert and the warm crowd revived us after a very long trip from Portland. Not to mention the pocheen libations. I thought it was funny that after hearing from Caleb and Sammy about festival contracts that forbid performers to imbibe this Irish homebrew before sets, and the warnings to tourists in my dad’s guidebook, it seemed perfect in a way that within the first hour of being in Ireland, we found ourselves raising glasses of pocheen! I will venture that the brewer of this particular pocheen knows his business. It wasn’t no fiery moonshine! It should be mentioned right away that Foghorn had an honorary road manager on our Europe tour 2012: my dad, Norm. Yes, he was brave enough to trail us through Europe, enduring long car rides, late nights, Guinness and Irish whiskey drinking, unpredictable sleeping accommodations, gorgeous scenery, fantastic people, all the while loyally watching our gigs night after night. We tried to dig into the expansive Foghorn repertoire to keep things fresh for our nightly fan. Hope Dad had a great time! We sure enjoyed his company on the tour.
May 2. Today we were able to do a little sightseeing and checked out the Giant’s Causeway: beautiful coastal columnar basalt formations that step down into the sea. We followed that up with a tour of the Bushmills Distillery, where we learned a few things about the process of whiskey making. After purchasing our souvenir personalized labeled bottle of 12-year reserve, (only available at the distillery), we were quite disappointed a few days later while admiring it, to find that the distillery had misspelled our label! It went from Caleb’s clear block-lettering, reading: The Foghorn Stringband and Norm Willms, to reading: The Foghorn Strinband and Norm Willms! You’d think if they were going to misspell something, it would have been my dad’s uncommon last name, not stringband… anyway. Shame on them. Caleb was so mad, that he later threw that bottle away… of course not until after we had consumed every drop of that 12-year reserve! We played that night at McCann’s Bar in Omagh, and I will say I was impressed with the showing from the locals on a weeknight. They were a rowdy crowd! My dad did his share of chatting up the locals and selling them our new CD.
May 3. Today we drove to Manorhamilton, a quaint little town where we played at the Glens Center, a church-turned-arts-center. After the show, the savvy Anna, coordinator for the Glens, ushered us out on the town. We stopped in at Connelly’s for one drink, or so we thought, but didn’t end up leaving there until nearly 4 in the morning! It was magic being in that tiny pub that probably hasn’t changed a bit in the 40 years that the married couple has been in business there. A coal fire and unaccompanied singing warmed our hearts. Mr. Connelly’s voice cut clear and full as he sang Irish ballads and old country songs. We traded a few songs ourselves and even discovered that my dad had some songs in common with Mr. Connelly. Mrs. Connelly mouthed every word, though she never made a sound.
May 4 & 5. We headed for Dublin first and then Galway, sharing the bill both nights with I Draw Slow, a band that plays and sings gorgeous songs. The Grand Social was the venue in Dublin, and then the tiny, but cozy upstairs of the Crane Bar in Galway. We were hosted by I Draw Slow in Dublin, and I experienced my first full Irish breakfast. Holy! They really do it up: two or three kinds of meat, eggs, toast, coffee and tea. After eating such a large breakfast, the coffee is a necessary digestive.
May 6 & 7 & 8. From Galway we bid farewell to I Draw Slow, and went on to Dingle for their May festival, Feile Na Bealthine. What a beautiful town it was, out on a mountainous peninsula and right on the water. Our trip there wasn’t uneventful. Now something must be mentioned here about Irish roads: The farther you go, the narrower and curvier they get. Not only that, but they have tall hedges growing up and over old stonewalls making for zero visibility. Their two lane roads are smaller than one of our highway lanes, and yet, the Irish act like it ain’t no thing and they take your breath away as they squeak by at speed. It seems like there is not enough space, and yet, somehow there is. Like Caleb always says, “when it looks like it won’t fit, it still fits”. Well, after driving around the gorgeous rocky coastline on one of these impossibly winding narrow roads, Sammy found himself face to face with a humongous tour bus. (OMG Sammy!) At the last minute he swerved to give it more space and our van tires were instantly sucked right into the boggy ditch, (and the answer to Grover’s question, “what does it look like when it doesn’t fit?” Caleb always answers: “not good”), leaving the differential resting on the pavement. The Irish are a friendly bunch and it only took about two minutes before 4 or 5 passersby were offering assistance. One young lad came along and after unsuccessfully trying to pull us out with the only thin rope we had, he drove back to the nearest town, commandeered a beefier rope from a fisherman, and then drove back and pulled us out! What a guy! We had to stop traffic on the road for a few minutes in the process creating quite a spectacle! He wouldn’t accept any money for his troubles, so we gave him some Foghorn albums… hopefully he likes them!
When we finally arrived in Dingle, we found an unofficial residency for the next couple of days at Tommy Sullivan’s Courthouse pub. We had two gigs at the festival, and both were grand. Much needed rest followed with a day off, when we were generously hosted by our new friend Bernie, a Dingle native. She put us up at her family home in a beautiful village outside of Dingle. We took a sunset stroll up a stony hill bathed in orange light with a view of the ocean. What followed was a good home cooked meal with a peat & coal fire to keep us warm. We all slept in the next morning, except for dad, who is an early riser, but it was worthwhile as he had a memorable morning walk and chat with a sheep farmer up the road. Dad, (and the rest of us), are learning to navigate the Irish accent by now. And later, Nadine got to realize her longtime dream of cuddling a baby lamb… a welcome relief after seeing and longing after thousands of them in the fields as we sped by in our car, all of them paddocked behind beautifully dry-stacked stone walls.
May 9. We headed down the road to Kilworth where we played music for a bunch of folks in a glorious old stone church-turned-arts center. The crowd was friendly, and at the break, two ladies served tea and biscuits to all. These gigs are always nice interspersed with bar gigs and festivals. Sometimes it’s fun to be rowdy and loud, and yet, these sit down concerts give us a chance to play some material we wouldn’t play in a noisy bar. That night, we pressed on after the show to Baltimore in the very south of Ireland. We were too excited to wait till morning to arrive at the Fiddle Fair. And with good reason, for when we arrived at about two in the morning, we were properly greeted by the entire McCarthy clan with pints of Guinness all around.
May 10-14. Declan McCarthy is the curator of the Fiddle Fair, a 20-year and running festival in Baltimore featuring many amazing musicians in a weekend of concerts & workshops. This is the place where Ireland and Foghorn fell in love. About 10 years ago, Foghorn was invited to play at the Fiddle Fair, and I guess their arrival and the days that followed were memorable for both Foghorn and the Irish because many stories from the past were fondly recalled. They’ve been back many times now, and I’ve a feeling each time has been remarkable in its own way. I think Foghorn may have previously earned a reputation as the all-night-long crowd, as we ended up hosting parties at our house each night. We played Friday night in the big concert. Saturday we couldn’t resist a good outdoor session in the square, as it was a rare sunny day in Baltimore. And Sunday we were honored to be featured in the Mystery All Star band among a stellar lineup of musicians. It was lovely to be in one place for a few days, and we enjoyed some good long walks along the scenic rugged coast. Monday was a day off and we wound down and rested up in Baltimore that day. We were let down easy with a gorgeous dinner and some last tunes with the whole McCarthy clan.
May 15 & 16. It was a sad day leaving Ireland. The Irish are so warm and funny, and they really love and appreciate music. We drove and ferried from Baltimore to Wales, staying that night with friends Jacque and Vera and their cute young uns. And a delicate lemon tart followed the amazing stew we ate that night!! Yum! I will not attempt to spell the name of their town… Welsh is a crazy looking language with many consonants. We drove the next day to Liverpool, home of the Beatles, and our friends the Southerns, who generously hosted us, not once, but twice during our tour of England! We arrived in the afternoon, and went to the BBC downtown for a radio interview. I hope I never get over the thrill of playing live on the radio. After that we had a chance to sample some local cask ales at a nearby pub. Our show that night was at a café bar called Mello Mello. And there was a lot of dancing and clapping and I realized that Liverpool is a music-loving town. Good folks. Barry Southern sat in with us for the second set on banjo, and I thought that smile would stick on his face forever.
May 17. On our way to play in Pembroke, which is down on the scenic southern coast of Wales, we were driving along through gorgeous rolling green hills, and the roads got narrower and narrower, reminiscent of the tiny windy roads of Ireland. We were already late, as we had underestimated our travel time. As it was, if we went straight to the gig, we’d be just in time to walk on stage and start playing. So of course, instead, we got a flat tire. (Lookout Caleb!) Yes, Caleb hugged the hillside to avoid an oncoming car on that tiny road, and rammed the front tire right into a sharp tree root sticking out from the hillside. (Once again when it doesn’t fit… not good) Normally, a quick tire change would hardly have taken 10 minutes, but disappointingly, we realized that the spare had five holes for lugs, and the axel had six lugs. Damn car rental company! After two separate hitchhikes by Caleb and Nadine, who, very understandably, got lost trying to find the little chapel where we were meant to play, we were able to get help on its way. The faithful Jackie, our host and the booker for the chapel, kept the audience patiently waiting. Finally a van was sent back to pick us up. I think the gracious audience must have waited an hour for us to arrive, but we walked right in and started playing music. We were kindly told we were worth the wait.
May 18-21. We drove to London to play that night at the Mason’s Arms, a spacious old pub. It was a rowdy show, and part way through, an impromptu square dance occurred. We were hosted that night and the next by Charlie Hardy, who booked the UK portion of our tour. The next morning, before we left London, we found ourselves in the Snake Pit, a little radio station that broadcasts from a backyard shed with interior walls decorated with real snakeskins! Charlie met us the following day in Cromer, a charming coastal town in the east of England, to host a lovely concert at the old grange hall. Next day we drove to Aylsbury, north of London, and played a concert to an attentive but small audience in an old barn called the Three Horseshoes. The following day we returned to Liverpool for another dose of the Liverpool enthusiasm, and another dose of the Southern family. We played at the Caledonia and it was a packed house. Barry Southern sat in with us for our second set again and we all had a grand old time, retiring to the Southerns’ for a late night of playing more tunes and visiting. Even my dad played along, gracing us by singing his selection of Merle Haggard songs.
May 22 & 23. Liverpool to Edinburgh was a bit of a drive, but once we got off the freeway, we could really take in the countryside! Edinburgh was a beautiful place, full of huge old buildings with loads of chimneys coming out the top, and a castle overlooking the city. It was really a tease to only be there for a night, but we played a great house concert in an old grocery-turned-modern-home on the edge of the hills in Edinburgh. After the concert out came the scotch whiskey and I got to keep my promise that I was going to drink scotch in Scotland. Our hosts had about 8 different bottles from different regions of Scotland and all of them were quite different from one another and very good. The more we drank the better they were! Eamonn Coyne, fabulous Irish tenor banjo player, hosted us that night in the nearby village of Rosslyn, where in the morning we took a stroll to the Rosslyn Chapel, alleged home at one time of the Holy Grail. Our drive that day was a long one. 7 hours back to London. We stayed in an airport hotel, and my dad took us out to dinner for a celebratory farewell as we would all part ways the next day. Pa was homeward bound and the band was bound for Geneva, Switzerland. (Just like 007)
May 24-29. We were in and around Geneva this whole week and stayed with our new friends Leonard, Dunya, and Robin. They generously hosted us in their huge old Swiss farmhouse in the countryside southeast of Geneva. The day we flew in, we were picked up by our friend Francois and incidentally made a short stop at the International Labor Organization to switch cars, but it was an interesting stop because there was a global forum taking place to discuss and problem-solve the rising worldwide youth unemployment issue of today. Good work. We had a much needed long walk from there into the city (past the United Nations with all its colorful flags) along beautiful Lake Geneva and ended up at La Bibarium where we would play that night, a tiny wine bar with the best espresso in Europe. We got our first taste of Swiss hospitality there as the bartender unabashedly kept our glasses full, and the bar owner cooked us a delicious gourmet meal before the show. To boot, he paid us well at the end of the night and sent us home with a box of delicious local wine. This only set the tone for the rest of the week in Geneva. I guess it’s customary there to treat musicians like kings and queens. The following night our show was in Nyon about 20 km to the north where we played at La Parentheses, located in none other than Julius Caesar’s 2,000 year old wine cellar. Pretty cool I guess! But not before we were wined and dined at a nice restaurant on the lakeshore, and later put up in a hotel, compliments of the bar. And it must be noted that we drank, showered, & shaved, and yes, flushed the toilet… with Evian water. Their tap water comes from the same source as Evian bottled drinking water.
Next day we played at a blues festival, complete with a smoke machine and flashing lights, in Crissier; a last minute gig that filled in our afternoon before we headed back into Geneva to play at a small bar called La Cabinet. Sunday was a sunny day at Bain de Paquis, a cool old community bathhouse situated on a jetty in the lake. There is a beach on one side, and swimming pools, a sauna, and a restaurant and bar on the other side. We sat and played a few hours from noon on, and watched the parade of humans, all shapes, sizes, and ages, walk by in all manner of swimming attire. Monday was a national holiday so our hosts put on a BBQ at home and we had a day of rest. Our last gig of the tour was in Voltaire, France, just across the border, at, you guessed it, Paddy’s Irish Pub. Ha! Now ain’t that French!
Looking back on the tour, it’s remarkable how many different places and countries we saw, and how many folks we met and connected with. Music, especially traditional music has a way of reaching people and bringing them (and us!) joy. We are thankful to know all the folks who hosted and fed us along the way, and made sure we got from one place to the next. They didn’t really help us get to bed early though! Here’s to a great summer ahead! And to our new album: Outshine the Sun!
IRELAND/UK/SWITZERLAND/FRANCE: GET READY FOR SOME FOGHORN STRINGBAND! And we’re bringing a new CD!!!
This is the schedule, a couple more in the works, check out www.foghornstringband.com/schedule/ for details.
May 1: Red Room, Cookstown N. Ireland
May 3: Glens Centre, Manorhamilton, Ireland
May 4: The Grand Social, Dublin with I Draw Slow
May 5: The Crane Bar, Galway, with I Draw Slow
May 7: Féile Na Bealtaine, Dingle
May 9: Kilworth Arts Centre
May 10-13: Fiddle Fair, Baltimore with Dirk Powell
May 16: Mello Mello Liverpool
May 18: The Masons Arms, London
May 19: The Snug Club, Cromer Norfolk
May 20: The Three Horseshoes, Towersey (10 miles from Aylesbury)
May 21: What’s Cooking, London
May 22: House Concert @42, Edinburgh
May 24: Le Bibarium, Geneva
May 25: La Parenthese, Nyon
May 26: Le Cabinet, Geneva
May 27: Bain des Pâquis, Geneva
Can’t wait to see old friends and meet new folks! It will be our first time in France and Switzerland, so if you know people in the area, please let know and spread the word! Hope you all having a nice spring and see you down the road!