We are so grateful for the many amazing places we get to travel to, and wonderful people we meet all along the way. Thanks to everyone who supports our livelihoods as musicians, and supports live music in general! We love what we do, and want to keep doing it!
It has been awhile since the last recap of our Foghorn travels. The summer was a busy one, and one tour bled into the next. In the whirlwind of travel, gigs, seeing old friends, making new ones, and being in a new place, state, sometimes country, every day, the quiet time for reflecting seems nonexistent. Sometimes it is enough in the day simply to try and get enough good sleep, try to move the body a little after sitting long hours in the van, eat something reasonably healthy, and be present and energetic for the evening’s performance! I’m lucky to perform with three folks that manage to do this night after night. So, forgive me if this post is outdated, but I hope you might yet enjoy a few stories from our travels…
We had a remarkable summer! Caleb and I had a special opportunity to perform on A Prairie Home Companion with Caleb’s Country Band in Seattle in June, and got to hang with Garrison and all the gang. What a thrill! The two of us also had an inspiring week teaching at Voiceworks in Port Townsend, WA. Meanwhile, Sammy and Nadine had a great tour with Jesse Lege and Joel Savoy from Central California up the West Coast to Portland, OR.
Foghorn met up for a tour in Europe in July. We started in Denmark at the Roskilde Festival. We lodged nearby with some old pals in Christiania in Copenhagen.
This festival is enormous with 100,000 attendees, and many stages all spread across a beautiful festival ground that still manages to feel sort of chummy. The staff at the festival treated us very well, despite the fact that they must host hundreds of bands over the week long fest. We felt a little bit like rockstars when, after a morning of wondering who on earth was going to come see our noon set on the opening day of the festival, we stepped out on stage to a sold out audience of 1100 people standing & cheering us on. With a bit of cajoling from Caleb, the audience began chanting “BANJO! BANJO! BANJO!…! “ as Sammy reached for the banjo on one tune. They also solemnly held lighters high and swaying while Nadine and I sang a ballad. Those people were certainly among our best audiences of all time! They were so much fun to perform for.
After Roskilde, we went south through Germany to the Netherlands and Belgium. We played at a little theater bar called Dorphuis De Werf at the edge of the countryside in Hoorn in the Netherlands. Then we continued the next day to Belgium, navigating around the Tour de France, to play at the Gooikoorts Festival. And believe me, everything they say about Belgian beer being amazing is true. This little festival, nestled in a little village amidst rolling fields, had the best setup including a 24/7outdoor bar, from friday till monday, in the middle of the festival grounds. But we hardly had to patronize it since the backstage bar was keeping our glasses full! They proudly served us many varieties of locally brewed beer, including my favorite, a sour cherry lambic. And each came in a specific glass, shaped to best experience the flavor of the beer. The audience here was wonderful, packed into the main stage tent, they made it clear they were loving our traditional American music. Sometimes I feel we are couriers of this old music, bringing it around the world to share with other places on behalf of our tradition. Of course we aren’t the only couriers, and we are lucky to have this traditional music in America. While I know there are many here who appreciate it, it is truly amazing to see how much the folks abroad love it. I guess we probably take it for granted a bit here in the States, but I wish we didn’t. Thanks to all that don’t!
We then played five dates in Sweden, starting off many hours’ drive through farmlands and forests northwest of Stockholm outside the village of Törsby, at an outdoor campground
restaurant on a lakeshore. This gig fell under the heading of our frequently uttered statement: “The places old time music takes ya!” The Swedes are very into camping and many people rent a campsite in one of these campgrounds for the entire summer. They build elaborate campsites that may include RVs with covered decks build around them complete with couches and TVs. It becomes a little village, a community, where kids play all summer long, and families come and go as they have leisure time. The restaurant was filled with routine patrons that weren’t necessarily there to see the Foghorn Stringband play. You might say it was the opposite of our experience at Roskilde. Instead, we were background music to people only mildly interested in our music while eating dinner. That’s fine of course, but what made the experience special was the owner of the place, Helena, and her cousin, an amazing chef, who were the ultimate hosts. They seemed to fall in love with our music, and treated us with great kindness and generosity. We played the next night in Örebro, at the East West Sushi restaurant… again, “the places old time music takes ya!” A local band opened for us, Six String Yada. They play their brand of enthusiastic old time music, and once again, we realized that wherever we go, the old time music community is also. It’s pretty cool. We drove the next day to Stockholm and played a sweet little bluegrass festival in a big forest park in the middle of the city. We had fun watching all the other bands in the lineup, and trying to stay dry as it poured rain.
We headed west from there, crossing the country to play in Malmö in the garden courtyard of Kafé Agnes. And we finished up the tour at the Nääsville Bluegrass Festival in a small village called Ätran, south of Gothenburg. This was such a charming festival. It was set in a grassy forest meadow beside a beautiful lake. The Swedes were jumping off the dock for a swim, and so were we! And the lineup was awesome, and they actually played bluegrass music! Not some new age jam grass, or some other boring pop music that happened to have bluegrass instrumentation. We were greeted by the fabulously mustached father of the festival coordinator, who didn’t speak much english but asked us straightaway if we’d like some whiskey. He was dressed in full country western attire, and upon our acceptance of his hospitality, took us to the trunk of his car where he had a mini bar set up with several types of bourbon. In broken english, he told us some amazing stories of meeting all the old country stars. He had a goal to get all his LPs autographed, and would apparently go to great lengths to do so. In one instance, he arrived early to a venue where Johnny Cash was to play that evening. He snuck in through one of the backdoors, and hid in a cupboard all afternoon until the evening, and while getting out of the cupboard, was soon caught by a security guard, and escorted toward the door. But Johnny saw them, and called to guard to let him go, and when they began talking, Mr. Cash not only signed his record, but also allowed him to stay for the concert, and wine and dine backstage!
We all parted ways after Nääsville. Sammy and Nadine spent some time in the Yukon, and joined Joel Savoy and Cedric Watson in August for a tour of Alaska, including Salmonfest. Meanwhile, Caleb and I performed as a duo in Twain, CA, and performed with the Caleb Klauder Band at the Stevenson Bluegrass Festival in WA, a couple of weddings, and taught and performed at the Northern Lights Bluegrass Festival in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Foghorn reconvened again in September in Boston to commence a tour from there to Michigan. We had a great reception at Club Passim. We then drove up to Brunswick, Maine to perform at the Thomas Point Bluegrass Festival. That was a lot of fun, and we got to see some of our heroes, Del McCoury Band, and Hot Rize. We stayed with some friends who kindly hosted us at their summer cottage way down at the tip of one of those gorgeous peninsulas on the coast. We played a couple nice shows in NY, one at the Rosendale Cafe, and one at the Nelson Odeon in Cazenovia, NY, a sweet little grange hall gone theater owned and curated by a couple that lives next door. Next stop was Ontario, and we got to be with Nadine’s aunt on her birthday. We performed an outdoor concert on her lavender farm, and celebrated that night with a feast. Toronto was a good time the next night, and we played a show with our friends the Pigeon Hawk Stringband at the Tranzac Club. We played a couple shows in Michigan, one at the legendary Elderly Instruments, (drool) and one at the Livery in Benton Harbor on the lake. Then we wound up the tour at the Wheatland Festival near Remus, MI, a big festival with all genres of music. It was a fun scene for sure and we got to hang with some more of our heroes, Marc and Ann Savoy, from Eunice, LA, and Cathy Jordan and Dervish, from County Sligo in Ireland.
Perhaps the most memorable moments of the festival, besides fishing and swimming in the pond at our hosts’ home nearby, were experiencing the late night Cajun dances, which we were proud to play with the Savoy Family Band. Instead of partner dancing and moving around the dance floor in a circle, as you would see at a typical Cajun dance, the “dancers” were, yes moving around in a circle around the dance floor, though not in two-step or waltz form. Many were costumed, in various states of drunkeness, and most all were having a great time circling the room in a slow moving parade, a stew of humanity that rates among the highest of my people watching experiences. There were many jaw-dropping moments of laughter as folks passed by the stage, putting on their best solo moves for our (the band’s) entertainment. There were so many people, and that dance hall was so full of characters, that concentric circles of onlookers spread outside into the dark night.
After Wheatland, Nadine and Sammy headed back to the Yukon. Caleb and I drove from there to Nashville the next day to start a 10-day tour with the Caleb Klauder Band, starting with the Americana Music Festival in Nashville. We all got a little time off after that, and Caleb hosted the 2nd annual Great Big Fais Do Do at the Spare Room Lounge in Portland, a celebration of honky-tonk, country and cajun dance music.
It was a summer full of beautiful experiences, thanks to all that were part of making it this way.