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Day one. Nadine and Sammy landed in Melbourne after something like a 41 hour trip from their front door in Eastern Quebec to Melbourne. Caleb and I landed in Melbourne the next day after a 16 hour overnight flight from LA. Our tour of SE Australia would be 21 days long, with performances each night. Before long we were all sitting drinking iced coffee in the spring sun, a major body temperature adjustment from the chilly autumn weather we had all came from less than 24 hours before. After a solid breakfast and a couple of coffees, we were on our way. How strange to have flown halfway around the world in a matter of hours, popped out in a different hemisphere, and gone to eat something so ordinary as breakfast. We already felt the laid back attitude of the Australians, friendly as can be. I drank more coffee on that trip than I ever drink at home. Maybe it’s due to the ready availability of good coffee. I hear tell that Starbucks failed altogether in Australia due to the Italian influence of good quality coffee. When you arrive at a place, any polite Australian would say within moments, “Would you like a cuppa?” Yet in direct disagreement the above coffee comments, Australians seem to get along fine with instant coffee when there is no espresso nearby. I have to say, I have a soft spot for instant coffee. There is something comforting about the humble simplicity of stirring a spoonful of instant coffee into a cup of hot water.
After our arrival that first morning, our van was loaded down, and we drove out of the city 3 hours into the pastoral countryside of Gibbsland, northeast of Melbourne. I was struck by the landscape in the delightful way that being in a strange and foreign land can stir our awareness. Everything looked so different, even the light felt different, it was spring! We were off on a new set of adventures. We drove to a ranch out in the country near Valencia Creek. Garry greeted us with casual ease as we met and stood outside his farm house talking about music, cattle ranching, and the drought. He occasionally puts on shows at the Valencia Creek Hall, a community hall with a lovely dance floor and local volunteers that cooked us a nice dinner before the show. When we pulled up to the hall, some folks had already set up camp for the night in the field beside the hall. Their camping setups were rad… tents that folded out from atop their pickups with little ladders to climb up inside. Some had come from far away, a few hours’ drive to see us play. And one couple came all the way from Western Australia! Garry and his daughter are musicians and the audience was made up at least in part by other musicians from their community. It was the perfect way to begin the tour out in the countryside. Down home. We went on a nice walk the next morning, accompanied by Garry’s charming dog, saw an emu, and heard a lot of strange sounding birds.
We headed back to Melbourne to play the Caravan Club. Appalachain Heaven opened the show that night, a local Melbourne band. And we stayed with kind hosts, Ian and Linda at their home in Melbourne. They sent us off early the next morning for a long drive to Canberra, the capitol of Australia, sweetly packing us a bagful of snacks, and a jar of Australian honey to fend off colds. The show at the Caravan club was one of the last to be held in that great hall. And Caleb got to visit with an old buddy from his early days in Portland, who had been living in Melbourne for many years. In Canberra, ACT we played at the Polish White Eagle Club, a nice old bar and hall akin to our Elks or Eagles clubs in the US. We were hosted by Donal & Kerry Baylor, of the Baylor Brothers, an Australian bluegrass band. A local band Kristabelle and the Southern Jubilee Ringers opened up that night. We were not only smitten by their music, but also by the plywood campfire that they set up on the stage.
Our drive the next day took us to the Blue Mountains. Of course even Australians would be the first to say, they aren’t really mountains… not like we have in the States. But they were beautiful just the same. A local promoter put on a concert for us up high on the top floor of the old Metropole Guest House. It was packed that night, and sold out. We stayed in a house on the edge of a cliff by the Three Sisters, a distinct rock formation and tourist destination. As legend tells it, three aboriginal sisters were turned to stone by a shaman to protect them during a battle between two tribes that began when three brothers from another tribe wanted to take the sisters for their wives. The shaman intended to reverse the spell after the battle, however was killed, thus the three sisters stand in stone today.
We drove back out to the coast to Thirroul to perform at the Railway Hall. This room was right along the tracks, and was a beautiful space for music. Tall ceilings and a wooden floor. No trains went by during the performance, though I was sort of hoping one would. We did as many train songs and tunes as we could think of anyhow. We had a great time that night and two local bands opened for us. It continues to amaze me that everywhere we go we find a community that loves and plays American old time and bluegrass music. The next morning we had our first swim in the sea… Australian beach towns tend to have not only gorgeous beaches, but also they often have seawater swimming pools right on the beach. Any hour of the day you might see someone swimming laps or playing in a pool filled with saltwater. Who needs chlorine? It was divine to be in the sunshine, and have a swim in the sea ourselves. Thanks to Mark and Shooshi for hosting us there. They had a lot of beautiful birds in their backyard, not the least of which were some large cockatoos. Caleb tried to lure them close by placing bird seed on his foot…
Our return to Nerrigundah the next day, after four years’ time was a welcome reunion at one of our homes away from home at John and Pam’s. They not only cooked us a beautiful dinner with food from their garden, but also hosted a show for us down the road from their homestead at the Nerrigundah Ag Bureau, a lovely rustic metal shed out in the countryside, somewhat kindred to our rural grange halls in the States. The metal sheeting had a perfect patina, and the lawn around the place was neatly maintained. I found myself once again saying, ‘the places old time music takes ya!” There was a pool table inside, where everyone set their sweet treats and potluck items, a little stage, a kitchen, and tables and chairs. People came out of the woodwork to fill the place with food, drink, and fine company. On they way home, John told us to drive in front to give us the best chances of seeing some local wildlife. He wasn’t kidding. We first saw wallabies as they bounced across the road in front of the van, then kangaroos, and even a wombat! I regret trying to take a photo because I pretty much missed the entire wombat sighting trying to get my camera going. The next morning we drank fresh pressed citrus juice from John and Pam’s trees, including the juice of the lemonade, a citrus fruit that is like an orange and lemon crossed.
The next day we charged onward on the long drive up to Sydney to perform at the Leichhart Bowling Club. Of course in this case it was lawn bowling. Local promoter John Gallagher would put on two shows for us in Sydney. We got up early the next morning and went to ABC to perform live on the radio. Nice folks there at ABC. On to Newcastle after that to play in the school for the local music class. Then that evening we played a small room called Sunset Studio, a series promoted by our musician friend Gleny Rae. She’s a firecracker of a gal, and talented too, who sings and plays and tours around Australia, all while maintaining the family farm. She is currently working on a show with Ilona Harker where the two tell the untold story of lady bush rangers of Australia. Bush rangers are sort of like outlaws in the wild west. And just as written history tends to leave out stories from the perspectives of women and indigenous people, this aspect of Australian history is no exception. The gals have put together a great theatrical show with their original music. We got to see them perform at the Dorrigo Bluegrass Festival.
The next day took us back up into the highlands, near the village of Uralla, to a country house concert in a Buddhist temple. A lot of folks showed up and we had a wonderful evening meeting and visiting with everyone over a dinner of “roo stew” and after the show. One fan came up to us at the break and wanted to buy one of everything on the merch table! I said, “are you sure…, one of everything?!” and he said, without blinking, “yes!” I think that’s the first time that’s ever happened. Needless to say, we threw in a couple of freebies, and then went to eat at his cafe the next morning for breakfast to return the favor!
Bill and Aileen Shipman, A Land Rover for Caleb, and Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass:
Four years ago when we toured Australia we played the Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival, just as we did this time around. It is a lovely festival that feels small, yet has a high quality lineup of music. It is on a show grounds in the mountain town of Dorrigo, settled in the rainforest west of the Central Coast. After our performance in the main hall one afternoon at the festival, I walked out to join my bandmates in the sun, and chat with some folks after the set. An older couple was standing talking to them, and it was clear they’d already been talking for a good while. They were very fond of our music, and I would learn years later that Bill and Ailieen had started a radio station in Coffs Harbor where they lived, that was known for its country and old time music shows. I’d like to see their record collection! Anyhow we’d all had such an ease talking with one another that it was almost hard to walk away, but they went off to the campground somewhere, and we went on with our day. After the festival came to an end, there was a party of the volunteers and musicians. I couldn’t quit thinking of Bill and Aileen, and ventured out into the campground to track them down and invite them to the party. I had no idea where to look, and wandered through until finally, at the last camp I came to, there they were, packing up after a session and going inside for the night. They invited me in for tea, (a cuppa). I accepted and before I knew it the kettle was on, the tin of biscuits was out, and we were deep in conversation. After awhile I suddenly felt a keen awareness that I’d been there a long time, and my bandmates didn’t know where I was, and may be waiting for me so we could all go home. Bill and Aileen (80’s) insisted on accompanying me (a 32 year old) across the dark field, so arm in arm the three of us walked across to the hall where the party was going strong. We all joined in for awhile and when it came time to go, Caleb and I knew we couldn’t let Bill and Aileen walk alone out across the dark field, so four across, arm in arm we walked them back to their camper. When we arrived, they invited us in for tea, and before I knew it I heard Caleb saying, “we’d love to!” So in we went again, and down came the tin of biscuits, and the kettle was on, and sure enough, we fell into conversation with ease. I think we lost track of time entirely for what seemed like an hour by the time we came to. And you know that they tried to walk us back across the field! But we laughingly refused, knowing that it could go on, even if pleasantly so, for eternity. Well, Bill and I wrote letters these four years since that meeting, and have become good friends. Sadly Aileen has passed on since then, leaving Bill after 50 years of marriage. It was a real pleasure to visit with him again in person. He brought his camper to Dorrigo, and visited us there.
Dorrigo Bluegrass and Folk Festival is a big reason why we find ourselves all the way across the world in Australia. We love this festival and without it we might not be so likely to make the trip. Bridgett puts on a great lineup, and there are a host of volunteers that make the festival organized and welcoming. The festival lined up a home stay for us with John and Sandra, and we found ourselves grumbling a bit as we drove farther and farther out of town to their house, knowing we’d have to be in the car a bit more the next few days instead of being able to walk back and forth at the festival. Not that we were ungrateful mind you. The roads got smaller and smaller as we got closer to John and Sandra’s. As we passed by a garage on the property we saw an old Land Rover covered in dust and a light covering of moss. It caught Caleb’s eye, as his grandfather had always kept a Land Rover, and they had spent hours tinkering on it together. When we arrived at the house and met our very kind hosts, Caleb got to talking to them and mentioned the Land Rover. John said, “oh, that old thing, I’ve got to get that thing hauled off.” Caleb offered to buy it from him right then and there. John had a look on his face like, why would anyone want that old piece of junk?! He looked at Caleb, and Caleb looked at him, but he could see that Caleb wasn’t kidding, and so he said, “well you can have that old thing! I don’t want it!” Caleb bought it for a crisp $2 bill, and will have it shipped over to the West Coast!
The Pitts Family Circus are a joy and a delight. Not to mention they are incredibly talented and funny. They performed at the Dorrigo Festival, in their brand new custom big top. We had met them four years ago when we last toured Australia. They hosted a show for us then, and did so again this time around on their property in Barker’s Vale. They live out in the bush and the concert occurred on the front porch of their hand built house. The audience sat out on the vast lawn in chairs and on hay bales. They got a show from the Pitts in the form or humor, acrobatics, and trapeze! And then a lovely concert ensued with Two if By Sea, a cello duo, and then Foghorn played to round out the evening, with Garreth (daddy Pitt) sitting on banjo.
Boo Radley’s Hall.
Imagine a small wooden hall in a small timber town that had lived many lives. It was a store, a pub, and a community gathering space, and now after nearly being torn down, it was lovingly disassembled, and reassembled over the course of 10 years by Rob and Shawna, a couple of music-loving potters who live on main street in Glenreigh, NSW. Incidentally, this is the town where our friend Bill Shipman grew up, though in his day it would have been a different place in many ways. His family settled there, first making a bush camp, building a house from scratch out of local timber, and carving out a life there working timber, fishing and hunting, gardening, and the like. Rob and Shawna know many Shipmans, as there are quite a lot of them around those parts. Every so often they host a concert in that beautiful little hall at their home. We pulled up and Sammy sat down on the porch and got out the fiddle, right at home, and serenaded us while we set up merchandise and got the sound system going. It hardly needed any sound at all with those warm wood walls. Bill drove up for the show, and we invited him to open the show with a few tunes on the mountain dulcimer. He’s a great singer too. And you know for the second set, we had him tell a few yarns. He had the audience cracking up with his jokes and stories. In fact he was cracking himself up too, which made it even funnier. We drove down the mountain to Coffs Harbor to stay with Bill that night. It was nice to finally see his home after writing letters all these years. He put the kettle on and fed us some cake before bed!
Petersham & Wagga Wagga
We had an early morning, and awoke to Bill Shipman cooking up a mountain of bacon and eggs with tea and coffee. We bid our farewells, and drove the long haul to Sydney and arrived at the Petersham Bowling Club. It was a packed house that night, and any enthusiasm that may have been lacking in attendance for the the Leichhart show, was made up for in full! We shared the bill with Mac Traynam and Shay Garriock. We were kindly hosted by our good pals Jacinta and Terry, who would accompany us to Wagga Wagga the next day, and on to the Blackwood Festival. We had a very nice audience for the Wagga show, and it was nice to have a stop off between Sydney and the long haul to Blackwood where we were to perform at the Blackwood Festival, our last stop of the tour.
Blackwood is a tiny mountain town about an hour outside of Melbourne to the NW. Crystal clear streams and huge trees make up the landscape, including one of the largest trees in the southern hemisphere, massive pine that stands watch over Blackwood. There is a musical family that lives there, the Dears. And aside from timber framing, sailing and fishing, they also put on a great music festival. It’s a young festival, this being the third or fourth year, but it didn’t lack anything. It’s rough and tumble, and the music lineup was great. The festival grounds was a beautiful setting below town in a field along the river. We spent the weekend in the sun during the day, and keeping warm around the barrel campfires at night. It was fairly cold there being up in the mountains. We even got a frost of couple of the nights. But playing a set of music to a rowdy audience kept our fingers warm enough to play!
All in all it was wonderful to be back in Australia and I think we all agree that we hope to be back there again before four years’ time! Thanks to George and Nadine for heading up the booking of this tour, and thanks to all of our kind hosts and promoters in Australia. And now Foghorn is taking a well needed break through the holidays. We will reconvene in February in the Boston area, and have a trip to Norway in the works for March. April brings an Alaska tour. Lots of exciting things coming up in the new year. I wish you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!!
We have this saying in the Foghorn Stringband, “…the places old time music takes ya….”
We find a great many moments where this little adage seems to properly capture the strange and beautiful moments when we find ourselves in an unexpected little corner of the world, one we certainly would never have stumbled upon were it not for the fact that we are musicians that have chosen a pursuit of traditional music. Sometimes I look around in awe, “what luck to be here, and how unexpected!” Why is it notable that we are old time musicians? Well, it may not be, but there seems to be a lovely sort of community that centers itself around traditional music all ‘round the world, and these little pockets of community always seem to welcome us in and show us around their unique corners of the world. I often think how charmed I am (not just to ride the coat tails of the Foghorn Stringband legacy), but moreover, simply get to enjoy experiences and meet people that a typical tourist would not so easily find. It seems as much as we spend time traveling to far corners of our countries and beyond, here today, and somewhere else tomorrow, the hosts we find, in the places we perform, enjoy letting the a part of the world come to them and stir up ordinary life for a day.
It’s a privilege to have so many fine moments. And the trick is, to take each in fully, and to connect in each moment with presence and heart. My good friend, (also a performing musician) and I once spoke about this, and I think he hit the nail on the head when he said with great humility and appreciation, “…just as a rich man might be a glutton for rich food and hedonistic experiences, it is like we have been given a gluttony of experiences.” For when we are with those we visit and for whom we perform music, it is usually a party of some kind… a festival, a wedding, a bar gig, theater, someone’s Saturday night somewhere, and people are out for the evening to be entertained and relax, after a long day’s work. It might even be their biggest party of the year, and we know we must rise to each occasion and be the best party band we can be, even after the gig is through. Luckily, I think this comes with relative ease to everyone in this band. We genuinely enjoy meeting people, seeing old friends, socializing, and showing people a good time with our music, whether on or off stage. I think it is important to us all, and frankly makes life on the road more livable, to get to know folks along the way. And because we’re open to it, we get shown around, and are given a dose of local flavor, even when we least expect it.
Foghorn is just wrapping up a six week tour that began on the east coast of the US, and finished in rural western Wales. I’m already wondering how on earth to capture this tour without some kind of mundane description by the day… there were so many wonderful moments. Maybe I should just focus on the moments….
Part 1 The End of April
We had a great week teaching in the schools at the end of April in Rockport, Mass. a sleepy coastal town NE of Boston, thanks to an arts outreach program put on by Stephanie Woolf and the Shalin Liu Performing Arts Center. Stephanie is an understated woman, yet when we began to speak with her, we learned with intrigue that she had enjoyed a career as a session fiddler in Nashville. She had worked with many of our musical heroes that we will never get to meet… Maybelle Carter, Johnny Cash…. And what’s more, in her quiet way, she goes about doing her own research to seek out an interesting and eclectic range of musicians to bring into the schools, giving the kids a wide scope of exposure. They are lucky to have her. Over the course of three days, we appeared in classes of all ages. Pre-K to high school. Those little kids were so sweet and innocent and free from all the cares they are about to encounter in what seems like a very strange time to grow up. We did brief presentations of our traditional music, telling of the history, with time to answer questions. With the young kids we usually offered a little quiz so they could guess what instruments we played. They were familiar for the most part, but it was mandolin that stumped them the most. I think my favorite guess was when one little boy raised his hand, and earnestly said, “is it a trombone?” We had a public show on the last night in the beautiful performing arts center. Shalin Liu is right on the water with enormous windows taking up the whole of the wall behind the stage, looking out to sea. It was one of the best sounding rooms I’ve played in. I could hear every subtlety, and the crowd was rowdy and engaged, just the way you’d want them to be.
Just prior to that, we had performed in Charleston, WV. Sammy had flown in from Sore Fingers music week over in UK, and Nadine from home, where they’d been madly remodeling the house that she and Sammy purchased and moved into less than a year ago in Pointe-à-la-Croix, Quebec, down the road from her family. Caleb and I flew in from Portland, OR after a duo tour in California. Foghorn’s first show of the tour was at the Performing Arts Center in Charleston for the Friends of Old Time Music and Dance. It was a great night there. We love being in the southern Appalachians where so much of this traditional music has been fostered. We are always welcomed, though we come from other parts of the continent. As Caleb always says, “the fiddle is small and it has always traveled, and the tunes with it.”
Part 2 Ireland
Oh Ireland, you’re always good to us with your unmatched keen humor, your cozy pub culture, your discriminating knack for never enduring bullshit or pretense, and your ever remarkable landscapes. Just keep things as they are, and don’t change. The slower pace of life, the appreciation for communing with fellow man, the love of tradition, and the treasuring of music, are all things unique in their expression in Ireland.
The Baltimore Fiddle Fair is, in our opinion, a pretty special festival, where many incredible musicians converge in a gorgeous and small village in SW Cork. The focus of the festival is plainly about the fiddle, and mostly in traditional and roots music. We were very happy to spend several days there this year, with a day or two off before and after the festival to enjoy Baltimore, a rare feat amidst a busy tour schedule. We were fortunate to encounter some unseasonable weather in the form of bright warm sunshine, and we used it well. We jumped into the sea, enjoyed pints and oysters in the sun on the square, and walked out to the ever iconic beacon, a tall hive-shape whitewashed stone structure marking the entrance to Baltimore Harbour. (Incidently, there is song in progress by the title, Sneakin’ Round the Beacon.) The Fiddle Fair is in its 25th year, and this year it was celebrated in many ways, one of which was the first ever at the festival square dance. Our good pal, Ava Honey, from Boise, Idaho was the caller, and the marquis was full to the brim with dancers. It was a big hit, and the word on the street was that it would become an annual tradition at Fiddle Fair. We had a concert set, and a kids show one morning for the local schools. There are always great pub sessions throughout the festival. The performances at Fiddle Fair are unfailing in might and quality, and I find myself enjoying rare moments sitting quietly, listening to the music and getting inspired. There is no overlooking the grassroots approach of Fiddle Fair. The McCarthy family puts on a great party, with Declan at the helm, booking and organizing, his mother Etna priming the artist housing larders with beautiful homemade breads, good Irish butter, her homemade preserves and pickles, and farm eggs, and sausages. His sisters run a tight ship, managing door and tickets at each festival event, along with the Fiddle Fair girls, a tight crew of ladies that sells the merchandise; and lets not forget Archie, a Baltimore boy who keeps a sharp eye on the door. The craic only seems to improve as the weekend goes on, as everyone grows more sleep deprived and partied out. I think they are all legends, and the more we get to nurture our friendships with this great family, the more we enjoy each visit we have with them. This year we had the added joy of luring some of our friends from back home over to the Fiddle Fair. Besides Ava Honey, there was a pack of Alaskan friends, and Ava’s sister & friend from Denmark, not to mention friends from around Ireland who were down for the fest. They all took to the scene like champions, leaning right into the fray. I think I saw daylight at the end of most nights there before making it into my bed. You know its good fun if you find yourself trading sleep for it, for sleep is a precious thing.
It is always sad to leave Baltimore. But this time it was eased by the jubilance of a promotor in Clonmel, Ireland, Gerry Lawless who hosts the Clonmel World Music concert series. He is the kind of person you wish you could clone and place in each town with a venue. He humbly exudes a kind of joy, appreciation, and energy for music, and has clearly become trusted by both his audience and performers alike. Gerry wrote us a beautiful email after the show, and I checked to see if it would be ok if I printed it here. I thought it was a sentiment worth sharing:
After thanking us for a great show he wrote… “What it is all about, in my opinion, is a collaboration between us all to produce a musical treat and it feeds the souls of all present, and gives us all a high and an escape from whatever our life struggles are at that time. It is a huge team effort between myself, you guys, Pat on sound, the Clonmel Music Crew, and the hotel staff, and most of all the audience who trust what we are all doing…. I am really proud of my part in it and am so grateful to you guys for responding to all the hard work in giving you the platform to perform, by giving your all in a really brilliant show….The most pleasure I get on these nights, apart from the joy of the music itself is seeing the happy smiling faces of the audience and the band who all contribute to two hours of bliss and joy. The happiness and massive smiles on peoples faces… as they headed home from the show was a massive buzz. Thanks so much. You guys have it really tough at times with all the thankless traveling, tough shows, hard work, bad audiences, shit promoters and venues. You also have it brilliant when it all comes together. I hope ye got a lot out of the show last Thursday night, and that it renews your faith and confidence in your ability, in your hard work, your songs, tunes and stories and your faith in what you do to lift peoples’ spirits and bring joy and happiness. I loved your own songs and tunes, and I especially loved your carrying on of the old songs and traditions, your respect for the musicians that came before you and your keeping the songs and tunes alive. Musicians are such an important part in bringing joy to the world, and it’s often not appreciated. You really do dish out healing in the key of C!” Thanks Gerry for all that you do and for your outlook.
From Clonmel we continued to a little tiny village hall north of Dublin. Here a promotor puts on a lovely small show, but the dinner before the show was the special treat. We walked into a houseful of smiling faces looking up at us. We didn’t know we were eating dinner with the whole extended family! Three sisters bustled around the kitchen putting out beautiful fresh salads and roasted potatoes, a leg of lamb, and cheeses. It was quite a spread! We were instantly made comfortable with all the chatter and teasing between the siblings and their husbands. The meal was delicious, everything made fresh from scratch.
They were all from right there in that village, and the family bonds seemed strong and full of friendship. They loved the music, and so we felt we had returned something for their hospitality.
Part 3 Germany
We had a very early morning flight to Germany for three days, an adventure all its own. A few years ago, Foghorn Stringband toured Germany, and along the way, stumbled into one of those “the places old time music takes you” moments. We were to play a show for a promoter in his wine shop. When we arrived he had cleared all the shop contents to the side, and filled the room with as many chairs as he could. We were sat down to platters piled high with paper thin slices of charcuterie and cheeses with good bread and wine. The show was a great success with his band opening, (we found out he’s a fine old time fiddler) and at the end of the night he informed us we’d be staying at an inn in a nearby village, owned by some friends of his. The inn turned out to be charming and cozy, and when we met our hosts the next morning, what followed was one of those fast friend situations. We happened to have a day off, and were invited to stay over another night. In spite of our lack of German (though Sammy speaks a little), and their half decent English, we found kindred spirits. The inn and adjoining barns had been in the family a long time, and are beautiful old buildings dating back many centuries. The courtyard in between the barns was the perfect spot to enjoy the local beer in the sun. Scherdel. My dad who happened to be on tour with us at the time said it best after a long day of travel: “Ah… Scherdel! It’s like an angel pissing on my tongue!” As our friendship blossomed, (in no small way due to Silke’s home cooking, wild boar sausage, and cute little spring house filled with flowers and veggies, where we could fill our glasses from the cool stone trough), we learned that there was a hall up above one of the barns. though it was dusty and unused, it was a charming little hall with a stage and wood floor. Silke’s father, Conrad, now in his eighties, carried kegs of beer on his shoulder like it was no big deal, up the steep stone stairs into the hall a week or so later when we returned to put on an impromptu show on a day off. They rallied the locals and with short notice had a hall full of good beer drinking Germans to see a night of music. Anyhow, you get the idea.
So when we returned this time, it had been three years since we last saw our friends. You can imagine what a joyful reunion it was, and in no time it felt like we had never been apart. Conrad was still up early doing chores around the place as though he was 20 years younger than he is. And though my dad wasn’t there to say it, our first sip of Scherdel in the sun tasted heavenly. This time they went big for the show. They rented a renovated barn across the street… one that had been standing there since the 1200s, and had more space than their own hall. And Scherdel Brewery provided all the accoutrements necessary to set up a good beer hall, including wooden tables and benches, and a massive beer truck with a fold down bar balcony on the side, and a copper tap. They rounded up a couple hundred attendees, and we had a big old party.
The next evening as we sat with them out back in the little hunter’s cottage near the field, and had a BBQ on our night off, I couldn’t help but think how fortunate we are to meet such good people along our way. If you open your eyes a little past your own little world, there are good people all over the place. They are like family now, and I look forward to the next time we get to visit Germany. Who could wait to get back to Silke’s home cooking? Her family inn is a special place, and they work very hard to keep it up and running. Gatshof Rotes Ross is where it’s at! Hurray for Höchstadt!
Part 4 England and Wales, with a short venture into Denmark
Onto the UK. We had many special moments during our two weeks there that are worth mentioning… once we finally got past customs! We had a roundabout tour of England and some amazing forays into Wales also.
We finally got to collaborate with some promoters that we’ve been in touch with for years. We played in Leeds at the Brudenell. And the next day for our buddy Michael McGoldrich, legendary pipe and flute player from Manchester, who hosts a great series called the Carousel Sessions over at the Chorleton Irish Center, a family owned pub and hall. We had a great night there sharing the bill with John Doyle, followed by a late night session in the pub. John puts on a stellar solo show in case you were wondering. Stories and songs woven into one another with riotous guitar tunes mixed in. And of course we had the joy of sharing the stage with John and “Goldie”, as we call him, at the end of our set. Talk about lifting and separating! The Reverend PT Grover used to say of the Key of A, “It’s the people’s key. The key that lifts and separates!” It’s difficult to explain, but perhaps you know just what he meant. Anyhow, I would apply the same adage to John and Goldie. They have an electrifying musical presence, and the tunes we played together really did lift to another level.
We had a special night in Richmond, playing a square dance and concert for the Richmond Old Time Music and Dance Club at a nifty sporting club overlooking vast rugby fields and the famous Kew Gardens, the largest botanical garden in the world. Quite a lot of Londoners braved the city’s traffic to come across town for the evening. The next morning our pal and host Julian took us to the Kew Gardens, and we got to wander about the vast expanse admiring that astonishing collection of plants and trees.
Down at Lewes the next night, in the south of England, we were hosted by the Cajun Barn, a couple who have been promoting great Cajun and roots music for almost 20 years! Their crowd is a rowdy one, and you would’ve thought you were up in Liverpool or something, a compliment in my opinion, since Liverpool has a love and joy of music that is rarely rivaled. We played in a little club, and folks were up dancing from start to finish.
We were met at the airport by our friend and liaison, Lee West from Virginia, who was in Copenhagen for work. He escorted us to the venue by taxi. It was a sunny afternoon, and the Danes were out and about. They said it was one of their first good weather days all spring, and the cabin fever was being aired! We were met as we stepped out of the taxi by a mysterious fan who had photos and papers ready for autographing… I’m not sure how she knew we would be there at that early hour, but she barely said a word, or made eye contact, got the autographs, then disappeared. I don’t recall seeing her again that night, but hopefully she made it to the show.
Danish people seem to be out and about no matter what the weather, but they seemed especially festive that day with all the sunshine. Copenhagen just has a nice feeling as you walk through it, with lots of people outdoors, sitting by the river drinking wine, or walking or biking somewhere. The first time I went to Copenhagen, I was startled by the bicycling culture there. They have dedicated bike lanes, that are completely separate from pedestrian walkways, which you will quickly find out if you should be walking in a bike lane! Watch out or you’ll get run over! Or at least yelled at by a chiding Dane. I wish every place had such a strong bicycle culture. We flew to Copenhagen for just one day, to perform a concert at a venue called Global. Caleb and I played there as a duo a few years ago, and it was just as fun then as it was this time. Global is a great venue, and my favorite part is that for dinner before the show, once all the chores of sound check, etc are finished, the staff sets a big long table in the middle of the hall, complete with tall fancy candelabras, and everyone eats a meal together.
Our show was well attended, due in part I’m sure to the fact that we played the Roskilde Festival last summer in Denmark. The audience was a rowdy mix of young and old and everything in between, including a little boy fast asleep by the stage on a pile of coats. At the end of the show, we walked off the stage in the midst of a tune and took the party outside for a last couple of tunes. People were singing along, and it was such a nice night altogether. I think we all wished to stay around Copenhagen a little longer.
Back in UK now…
There was the day where we played a show in the wood shop of a timber framer, whose home was artfully constructed of oak timbers, and whose farm sat adjacent to a large earthen ring that had been raised by the Romans in 1200. It was the shape of a horseshoe with a vast meadow in the middle, and on the ring were massive old oak trees that had been there for who knows how long. As the sun set with rays of golden light bursting through the branches, I started to feel like I was in Middle Earth, and that a hobbit might wander out from amidst the trees any moment. Or maybe Gandalf with his pipe, curls of smoke winding up into the leaves. I wouldn’t mind a quiet chat with old Gandalf. We had the day off next day, and our hosts provided a most welcome respite for us to rest, catch up on sleep, and enjoy a day outside of a car. We slept in, ate well, rode horses, went for a beautiful walk up into the woods and hills around the farm. Eli West was in the neighborhood, and we spent the day with him there. Wales is most certainly a magical place, with its little wooded hollows and grassy hills. It does feel an awful lot like I would imagine the shire to be.
There once was an audience we dubbed The Saddest Audience in the UK. Only because their love of the sad song was rather unrivaled. Not only did they doggedly request sad songs, but they sang along with them! We picked our saddest for them, and they were as happy as could be about it! From murder ballads to heartbreak songs, we couldn’t throw them. They ate it up. This was a special acoustic night, with no mics, and a load of folks crammed tightly into the back the Cross Keys pub in Sellatyn. Our good buddy Jock puts on this show, and I think there is people like about being packed in so tightly like that, a mild hardship that we secretly enjoy. It’s very intimate in a way, and it’s nice to enjoy that once in awhile.
We traveled into the very NW of Wales to a little island called Menai Bridge where a wonderful man named Owen puts on a concert series at the Vic Hotel. He’s been promoting music for 40 years! Owen is a musician himself and was lovely to visit with considering his encyclopedic knowledge of many things including the local history of his area. He took us on a little tour of Electric Mountain, an amazing hydro power system that was constructed to accommodate power surges. There is a lake at the top of the mountain and a lake at the bottom. Inside the mountain is the hydro system. During power surges, the water from the upper lake is released, flowing down into the lower lake. Then it gets slowly pumped back up again during low power times of day. It should be noted, that one major time when they have power surges is during a television break in the evenings when everyone gets up to make tea! Owen also took us to an old castle nearby, not to mention a gorgeous classic view of Snowdonia National Park. Snowdonia is a stunning place, and we took advantage of the opportunity for a walk and swim along our way the next day.
In Shrewsbury we performed at the Wightman Theater, a show promoted by our booking agent, Angie, of Access All Areas. The next day we drove up to Sheffield to play a double bill with Evie Laden and Kieth at the Graystones. What a great audience that was! A very fun night. And our hosts that evening shared their music with us in the form of a nice sing-song before bed. And then the tour was winding down. We drove down to Dorset Country for two days playing in Village Halls in the villages of Corfe Castle, and Portesham. These shows are put on by ArtsReach, a program that funds arts shows in village halls all around Dorset County. The bigger shows help fund the smaller shows, and then everybody, even in the rural parts has access to arts performances. The halls were both sold out and many folks were seeing us for the first time. Thanks to our hosts Barbara and Robert, who have a beautiful farm up on the hillside. The tour ended with a bang up near Aberystwyth in Wales, where we played a private party for a friend’s birthday party out in the countryside. The show was held inside a traveling barn. What is a traveling barn you might wonder? Well, it is a gorgeous timber frame structure covered in heavy canvas. It can be taken down and put up as needed. You know the term, “they were swinging from the rafters” as in, it was a wild night? Well, they literally were swinging from the rafters that night! People were dancing on the bar, flatfooting on the stage, swinging from the rafters, and well, it was a wild time! There was a English folk song sing-off, and we realized that we need to have more anthems in our own repertoire… We heard the dawn chorus in the wee hours before catching a few hours of sleep in front of a long journey back to the States.
We’re glad to have had a memorable tour in Ireland, UK, Germany, and Denmark. Thanks to all the folks who hosted us, helped promote our shows, and supported live music! Foghorn Stringband will reconvene in July at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA. In the mean time, Caleb has taught mandolin at the Midwest Banjo Camp, and along with Reeb toured in the NE with the Caleb Klauder Country Band in early June. We are also hosting the 4th Annual Great Big Fais Do Do Festival in Portland, OR this weekend. Sammy and Nadine will be enjoying their newly remodeled kitchen, hopefully christening it with some amazing meals. And are teaching at the Yukon Woodshed Camp. Summer is here!
I guess it’s been since before the holidays that I last wrote. I don’t need to tell you how time flies. Our winter has been busy, and continues to be so into spring. Caleb and I did a few shows as a duo in the Bay Area in early January while Sammy and Nadine spent some time at their new house in Puente de la Croix, Quebec. We met up in Portland for the Portland Old Time Gathering, a festival of traditional old time music that’s now in its 16th year. It’s always a good time where many friends converge, we stay up too late, and play a lot of music. Portland had a rare moment of heavy snows that stuck around for nearly a week, so much to our delight, it was a winter wonderland outside.
We’ve been hitting the bluegrass circuit this winter, starting with Blythe, CA in late January, Midwinter Festival in CO, and Wintergrass in WA at the end of February. We played a fun show at Timewarp Records in LA, and also participated in a musical film project headed by David Bragger documenting roots music traditions. Keep your eyes peeled as it comes to fruition in a couple of years, as it will have some great footage of some legendary players.
None of the band had ever been out east of LA, so we took our opportunity to hike in Joshua Tree on our way back to the city after Blythe Bluegrass Festival. Blythe was unseasonably cool due to the storms that had been blowing in, so we actually had to wear jackets, and didn’t get to work on our tans at all. We did get to wear some symbolic matching t-shirts on the day of the Women’s March, which happened during our time at Blythe Bluegass. In our own little way we could stand for human rights and women’s rights and acknowledge all the work to that has been done and is yet to be done to make our world a place of equality & respect. Many folks at the festival thanked us for wearing those shirts.
In February we all flew to Nashville for a short tour from there to Boone, NC. We played on Music City Roots, made it over to Asheville for a great evening at the Grey Eagle with our pals Bill and the Belles, and stopped off for some radio spots along the way at WDVX in Knoxville, TN, and WNCW in Spindale, NC. It’s always fun to play on the radio… you just send the music out there on the airwaves, and who knows who’s out there tuning in? We played the Laurel Theater in Knoxville, and finished up with a concert and workshops at the Fiddler’s Convention at Appalachian State in Boone, NC. And, a sweet and generous fan brought us one of the most beautiful pies I have ever seen.
Back on the West Coast we met up with our Cajun buddies Joel Savoy and Jesse Lege, for a run as the Cajun Country Revival. In the Bay Area, we played a dance at Ashkenaz in Berkeley, with our pals Suzy and Eric Thompson, and a wonderful concert the following night at the Freight and Salvage. It’s always a pleasure to collaborate with Jesse and Joel. They are both musicians whose music I love and respect, not to mention they’re just plain good humans. I feel privileged to play on stage with the both of them, especially Jesse, living legend of the Cajun dance halls. He’s one of the only musicians from that hay day out touring and playing traditional dancehall music. He’s as pure as they come, and if you’ve ever heard him sing, you know what I’m talking about. It gets you right there…uh-huh! Man knows how to move a dance floor. We played concerts in Seattle at the Royal Room, Vancouver at the Rogue Folk Club, and Portland at the Secret Society Ballroom
Foghorn reconvened in Denver, CO for a fun weekend at the Midwinter Festival. We really didn’t set foot outside of the hotel the whole weekend! Par for the course for a winter hotel bluegrass festival. We had a great time meeting folks there, and making some new friends and fans.
We spent the following week down in rural Blodgett, OR teaching music at House Camp. It is a wonderful small music camp in its seventh year running, started by a mother and daughter after the passing of their husband/father in the interest of bringing joy back into the house. I think they succeeded! Students and teachers alike had a fabulous time, played a ton of music, ate delicious home cooked food, and made new friends. Each day’s curriculum was planned over breakfast, and great care was taken to create classes and lessons tailored to the students in attendance. The camp culminated with a concert at the Summit Community Center, a dear small old church converted into a hall, featuring performances by the students and teachers. It seemed that everyone gained a lot through the experience and I, for one, left feeling very inspired.
Many in Blodgett continued on the pilgrimage up to Bellevue, WA to attend the Wintergrass Festival. Foghorn played a concert and a dance, both of which were well attended. We played tunes in the hallways, stayed up late, and had a great time seeing many friends there. It was our first time at Wintergrass as the Foghorn Stringband, and it was wonderful to be there at last. I must say, between Blythe, Midwinter, and Wintergrass, a shout out to our bluegrass audience: thanks for being awesome! We are really enjoying meeting you all, and can feel the love coming from you when we are on and off the stage!
Next stop was Minnesota, Sammy’s homeland. We flew out there just at the beginning of March to play at the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old Time Association’s Winter Weekend. We converged again with Joel Savoy and Jesse Lege to make a stops in Madison, Cedar Rapids, and Duluth on our way up to colder northern climes to perform at the Moosejaw Festival at the Mapelag Resort near Callaway, MN. On the way, we stopped at the one and only gas station designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Combine nordic skiing, a wood fired sauna near a hole in a frozen lake, a weekend of music, dances, and workshops, and you’ve got yourself a good time! Our good buddy Caroline Oakley was there too, hired on as the guest square dance caller. We tried our best to get the Cajuns to jump into the hole in the ice, but that’s about like trying to get a cat into a bucket of water.
We are just returning from performing at the Savannah Music Festival in Savannah, GA. It’s a phenomenal 17 day festival with an eclectic lineup. Foghorn played a sold out show with Dom Flemons, and the next day Caleb and I did a lunchtime set as a duo. Savannah is a lovely town with tons of history, beautiful architecture, and countless garden squares filled with live oaks hung with spanish moss. It was summery there compared to the PNW or Eastern Quebec! The weather was so sunny and warm, that we found ourselves basking in the sun and jumping into the outdoor pool at the hotel after our sound check. Making a set list pool-side, now I could get used to that. Sammy and Nadine returned home to several feet of snow, had to shovel the walk and fire up the wood stove!
Next up, Sammy will be away in England for a week, teaching fiddle at the Sore Fingers Music Camp. Foghorn will reconvene on the east coast in late April to perform at the Kanawha Friends of Old Time Music and Dance event in Charleston, WV, and to be in Rockport, MA the following week for performance and school residency put on by the Shalin Liu Performance Center. Then it’s off to Ireland, UK, and Bavaria for the month of May! Don’t know if I’m coming or going sometimes, but who could complain? We will return to the Baltimore Fiddle Fair in SW Cork, one of our all time favorite festivals, and we will also be at the Féile na Bealtaine festival in Dingle. Then we’ll be in England & Wales the rest of May with short jaunts over to Germany and Denmark in the middle.
Summertime plans in June find Caleb teaching mandolin at the Midwest Banjo Camp in Michigan, and then joining Reeb on a NE tour with the Caleb Klauder Country Band in RI and MA before heading back to the good old NW for the National Old Time Fiddler’s Contest in Weiser, ID. Toward the end of June, Caleb will be hosting the Great Big Fais Do Do, gaining momentum in its 4th year, a dance and music festival featuring roots country, cajun, bluegrass, and old time music in a dance setting in NE Portland, OR.
Sammy and Nadine will be up in the Yukon in June teaching and playing music for a week before we all reconvene at the beginning of July in Port Townsend, WA for the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, where Nadine will be patiently tutoring budding bass players, and the rest of us will be roving musicians, playing for dances and helping with classes. Fiddle Tunes is truly an amazing convergence of musicians and friends from all over the place, representing many fiddle traditions from around the country and beyond. If you’ve never been, you should go. The faculty, performances, and dances are not to be missed.
So, that pretty well gets us up to speed. Wishing all of you a wonderful spring ahead and hope to see you down the road!
Winter is here, and the days we recently spent on Orcas Island, WA were clear and COLD! But I’d take sunny and cold over rainy and cold any day! It was perfect weather for sitting fireside in the evenings at Polly’s house, (Caleb’s mother), and perfect weather for cutting a new album. We spent a few days in the land of Caleb’s rearing, and recorded within the rounded walls of the Orcas Island Grange Hall where many community events of Caleb’s childhood were held, including a notable performance by Emmy Lou Harris and Ricky Skaggs. Though Caleb was merely a baby and didn’t attend the concert, a bootleg tape made its way into Caleb’s hands later in life, and was indeed influential. It was half the performance, and half the sound of that room on tape that was inspiring I think. That room has a sound unique to itself, and one that is recognizable to me after hearing that tape many times over the years. It has a woody warmth, and a gentle reverberation. Our pal Bruce Harvie, who lives way out on Orcas, brought his gear over to the hall, cleared away the theater seats, and set up a bunch of his vintage mics in the middle of the room. It was his idea to record there actually. He said, “it’s one of the best sounding rooms you’ll ever hear.” We set up Monday evening, tested the mics, cut a few tracks to get our sound dialed in, and then started in for real on Tuesday after lunch. Two full days in the hall with Bruce at the helm, and we had what we needed. Our new manager Matt Morelock was on hand to smile, help out, give feedback, and generally keep spirits high. We are also very grateful to have had the company of my folks, Norm and Bobby Willms, who graciously accepted our request for a cheap cook and bottle washer, and an intermittent audience. Bobby kept us well fed, and Norm listened in at the hall, kept the home fires blazing, and the Bushmills flowing. It was truly a blessing to come home to a cozy house smelling thickly-good of dinner! And my ma makes some of the best apple pie around! And she never lets a meal go by without a lengthy and news-filled blessing. Leave it to say, it was a pleasure getting to record in that setting. It was relaxed & fun, felt creative, and after all was said and done, we spent time mixing back in Bruce’s studio are really happy with the results. I think we got a great mix of songs and tunes that you will enjoy. It is an album true to Foghorn’s legacy, and yet offers a variety of material and sound that is unlike any previous album. We’re not quite sure what the release date will be, but you can be sure we’ll be letting you know!
We did a Northwest Tour this early December, leading up to the holiday season. It seemed like it had been awhile since we had toured in the region. Since Sammy and Nadine have been living in the Yukon, we have no longer been a local Portland band. And now, they have purchased their very own house in Pointe-à-la-Croix, Quebec, so it felt extra special to all be in and around the Pacific NW for a couple of weeks. They now live in Nadine’s hometown, right down the street from her folks and extended family. They seem thrilled to have made the move, and to have their own little home.
Our NW Tour began with a weekend in Canada: Vancouver, Victoria, and Quallicum Beach. The Canadians were in top form, all great audiences! Thanks to the Rogue Folk Club, the Victoria Bluegrass Association, and Joyce and John Beaton. We crossed the water and the border by ferry over to the San Juan Islands, and spent those few days on Orcas, working on a new recording. While changing ferries in Friday Harbor, we ran into our buddies from Louisiana, The Revelers! They were only passing through, though we tried our best to convince them to stay the night. We managed to grab dinner and beers with them at the Lower Tavern on Orcas before they had to press on.
Our Washington dates included The Conway Muse, in Conway, WA. We played a dance and concert there with square dance caller, Charmaine Slaven. We went to Olympia for a concert and workshops at Arbutus Folk School where our young buddies the Bow Weevils opened for us. Those are some talented kids who are carrying on the old time music tradition! Thank goodness. We taught workshops the following morning. The Folk School is doing some great work there… lucky Oly. We busted back north for a concert and dance in Seattle at the Royal Room. Squirrel Butter opened the show, and Charmaine Slaven called the dances. We continued north to Bellingham for the Bellingham Folk Fest. This event is in its third year or so, and it’s a sweet small festival that is structured with a large daily workshop schedule, followed by evening concerts, and late night dances and downtown shows. We played a downtown show at the Green Frog, and as usual Bellingham made a good rowdy showing. We made a stop on our way south to play the Monday Tractor Tavern Square Dance, a dance started by Charmaine Slaven years ago. Our good friend Lucas Hicks joined us on the banjo for the evening.
The last leg of our tour was in NW Oregon. We had a cancelled show in Bend, due to 20” of snowfall. So we stayed home by the fire for a night, and didn’t mind a bit to sit still fireside. We played a house concert in Hood River, at the mayor’s house. We shared a very special evening with legendary Irish fiddler, Kevin Burke at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland. It was magical as usual to play with Kevin. Not only is he completely charming and full of jokes and stories on and off the stage, but he is a heck of a musician! He has truly cultivated a touch for the fiddle that most will never attain. It is powerful and he had the audience, and ourselves wrapped around his little finger during his set. We joined him on stage for a couple of tunes, and then played a set ourselves, bringing him up to join us for a grand finale. Our show in Eugene was at the Wow Hall. It was a quiet Saturday night in Eugene, but the folks that showed up were a good bunch. We shared the bill with local band, Breaker’s Yard. The tour finished on home turf with the Every Sunday Square Dance in Portland, followed by a good old late session at the Moon and Sixpence. It was delightful to see many old friends out that evening and we always love to play our old session at the Moon.
It won’t be long before Foghorn is all together again in the PNW. Coming up in January, Foghorn will perform at the Portland Old Time Gathering, and will also be teaching a 3-day workshop in Blodget, OR with Eli West. We also have a few dates in Southern California toward the end of January. Then we’re off to the southeastern US in February for a tour through Nashville, TN, Asheville, NC, Knoxville, TN, and Boone, NC. We’ll be at the Midwinter Festival in Denver, CO, and then Wintergrass in Bellevue, WA! Fun times ahead. But for the near future, we are looking forward to some much needed time at home for the holidays! Hope you all have cozy holidays, and a Happy New Year! See you in 2017!
– Reeb Willms
We are really looking forward to touring in the Pacific Northwest! From December 2nd until the 18, we’ll be playing in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon.
Note that the show in Portland at the Doug Fir on December 16 will be billed with Kevin Burke, Irish fiddle player extraordinaire!
Well, what can I say? Ireland has come through for us once again with its good humor, friendly hospitality, fantastic scenery, ever-flowing perfect pints of Guinness, tiny roads, charming pubs, and most of all, the craic. I could never grow tired of Ireland. Don’t ever change.
Our Ireland tour was two weeks in all. We started out in Southwest Cork, one of our favorite regions of Ireland. Caleb and I flew into Shannon Airport, and were greeted by customs agents who were not only humorous and friendly, but also persisted in claiming, due to the instruments on our backs, that we’d be going on up to Ennis for the Fleadh, a national festival of traditional music. We kept mentioning we were actually headed south to Skibbereen to play at our friends’ wedding, yet, they couldn’t be persuaded, saying again, “I’d say you’ll be going up to Ennis”. Sure enough, we found ourselves driving the wrong direction, curiosity got the best of us, and we drove up to Ennis for lunch, and to experience a bit of the festival. We missed the nighttime performances, but what we did get to see before our drive to Skibbereen, was all the busking on the streets. Everywhere we turned there were people busking, and the bulk of them were young people, playing fiddles, bodhran, flutes, dancing, etc. It was striking how much a part of growing up traditional music must be for people here. It’s lovely, and made me wish that it was the same back home. People in Ireland take such joy in music, and I think it must be because of their connection to their traditional music.
We made it to SW Cork by dinnertime, and Sammy and Nadine were there. Nadine cooked up a delicious dinner. They had flown into Cork the day before. We were at the home of some friends who we’d met over the years at the Baltimore Fiddle Fair. We would play their wedding a couple days later. Their beautiful home had a view to die for of the islands and shoreline looking out to the sea. And the weather forecast looked good for the wedding that was to be in their garden.
Our first show was in the Riverside Cafe, owned by our friends Sandrine and Cliodhna McCarthy, two sisters in-law. If you are ever in Skibbereen, make sure you stop in for their delicious homemade and locally sourced food. We had a sold out night there, and played acoustically in the restaurant. The McCarthy family are dear friends, from years of going to the Baltimore Fiddle Fair, and it was a pleasure to get to spend a few days with them. They are a hilarious bunch. Declan, the oldest brother, curates the Baltimore Fiddle Fair, and all the family seems to take part, the sisters manning the door, their mother fluffing our larder with
homemade breads and jam, fresh eggs, and the like. And of course, Skibbereen was afire with pride for their hometown boys Gary and Paul O’Donavan who had just taken a silver medal in the Olympics for rowing! Good work lads!
The next day, the weather was fine, and the wedding was beautiful out in the garden. We played the reception in the community hall that evening, and a fine party it was. The following day we were hired to play at Levis’ Pub in Ballydehob for the after party, and it was a great session in that cozy little pub. The groom’s father cooked his famous lamb curry for the party, and there was even a square dance in the pub later on, called by legendary Irish caller, Declan McCarthy! That evening the weather changed, and we awoke the next morning to gail force winds sweeping up from the coast, and pelting rains.
It was time to leave SW Cork, and we’re always reluctant to do so, though there are always good things waiting. We drove to Dublin that day to play at the Cobblestone. Our friends, the talented and magnificent Dermie and Tara Diamond opened the show for us with traditional music on flute and fiddle. We were joined that evening by Caleb’s son Elijah, and his friend McKayla, who would travel with us for a week. It was their first time in Ireland, and I reckon they were in for some good times.
We drove off to Bangor, Northern Ireland next morning to play at the Open House Festival, a month long festival in Bangor that puts on comedy, film, food, music, literature, and all sorts of arts. Our show was held in the Ballyholme Yacht Club in a cozy upstairs bar with big windows looking out to sea. The crowd was packed in there, and what a good rowdy audience they were. It was our first time playing the Open House Festival in about 10 years.
Cookstown. Always a pleasure. Our friends are wonderful hosts and put on beautiful concerts. It was a sold out show there and we had a lovely night. The weather held out and the big doors to the building were kept open, and chairs spilled out into the courtyard. Our good friends from Liverpool came all the way to see the show. After the show, there was a bit of a sing-song after the concert goers had mainly departed. It was a passing of the guitar, always a special experience to hear the solo voice sparingly accompanied. Even my bandmates sang songs I don’t usually hear them sing, and it was a treat to hear them.
We had a drive out to Westport the next day. Our friend Uri Kohen, who puts on the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival each June, (we played there this past June) put on a show for us at Matt Molloy’s pub in the back Yard Bar, a lovely glass-ceilinged room with a fireplace. The acoustics in there are somehow just perfect. We stayed that night with friends out in the country, and the quiet and stars were just right.
Next day we had a short drive and therefore got to do a rare bit of exploring. Someone at the show had invited us for a swim, so we met her out by the sea at her friend’s house. To live there would be a dream. The old house sat just above the shore with lovely gardens and lawns around, and just out front was an old stone pier. The tide was out a fair bit for jumping off of the pier, so after tea and biscuits, we walked round the shoreline to the point and went in for a swim. The shore was rocky and full of seaweed, but once in the water, the bottom was perfectly sandy, and it all just brought us back to life! Nothing like a swim in the sea to revive the vital spark! We had a view of Croagh Patrick across the inlet, the mountaintop site of an ancient pagan pilgrimage, and where St. Patrick fasted for 40 days. Then we were off to Roscommon to play a private birthday party, some good pals. It was an epic time of course, as the Irish know how to throw a good party. Lots of music, a pig roast, and a blazing fire. We got in a good visit with the legendary Cathy Jordan, such a ham!
Next day we were off to County Donegal for a rare day off. Though it really wasn’t a different endeavor than a work day… we drove to a pub and played a session for a few hours! It was a lovely time trading tunes with Dermie, Tara, and Helen Diamond as well as a slew of other fine musicians including the pub owner John. Even Elijah joined in for a tune! John the Miner’s is the pub in the village of Carrick. John himself was a fine host, and had a perfect beef stew waiting for us after the session. We nicknamed him John the Quencher, as we were served fresh pints each time our previous pint was a third from gone without fail! It was great to have a night off of performing, and just sit and visit and trade tunes.
The following morning we got up and made our way to do a bit of sightseeing. We made it out to Slieve League, breathtakingly severe sea cliffs on the south coast of Donegal. Stunning. We drove to Manorhamilton that afternoon where we were to play at the Sculpture Center. Anna Legge put us on there in a nice informal setting with a cookout, in a cool industrial space that spilled to the outdoors. It was a nice evening for it, and the first annual Stoneyard Barbecue was a success I’d say! The night was capped by a stop off in Connolly’s. Joe and Ita were in, and this would be the third time we’ve been to their pub I’d say. There is something very special about them and their pub. It is an unassuming place, simple, and just right. Joe is a brilliant ballad singer, and we had a good few songs that night.
We bit adieu to the young ones after a week with them, and dropped them at the train station bound for Dublin. Hopefully tagging along with us was just right for them. I like to think we gave them a bit of a special experience traveling around as musicians, different than the typical tourist. With so many friends made over the years, there is always lots of fun to be had. We played a private house concert that evening in Kilkenny, and it was quite a party. The hosts have a beautiful cottage and gardens located right adjacent to an old mill on the river, and to the ruins of a priory. It was magical there. I must say, we’ve had great audiences all across Ireland. They really listen, and truly love and appreciate music. But this audience stood out even more. They were the perfect mix of listening attentively, yet totally rowdy at the same time. The set ended with a dance party in front of the stage, folks of all ages cutting up.
The tour ended at Dunmore East. The afternoon set was a blast. We played for a couple of hours out in the brilliant sunshine. It was the best summer weather of the whole trip. The gig was at the Strand Inn, right above the seashore, and a sandy beach. We had a good listening crowd, happily drinking pints in the sun. Had a swim in the sea after, and then played again late night in the back bar of a pub. There were folks there to see us, and it was them that cheered us on that night. The bass broke a string, that almost never happens! And a kind fan offered up his “silent bass” an electric stick bass, so after Nadine had played on with a mere three strings, he fetched it in, and we carried on.
Late to bed and an early morning the next day to get to the airport. Nadine and Sammy were off to Quebec to visit her family. I imagine they’re about eating lobster right now near the sea, lucky dogs! Caleb and myself are off to Portland and a few days rest before we head out to Boise, ID for the Hermit Festival. Foghorn will reconvene in no time on September 8-11 for the Old Tones Festival in upstate NY, a concert at the Nelson Odeon, and a show at the Burren in Boston. A little more summertime before we turn into autumn.
A wonderful tour of Ireland is happening! We couldn’t be happier to be there a second time this year! Here’s the full schedule:
Also, great news!
Portland folks and friends visiting Portland: We are excited to announce that all our merchandise is now available at a.ell design at 3539 SE Hawthorne!
The store carries all our shirts for adults, kids and babies as well as our new handkerchiefs and all our CDs and LPs!
We are also working on a brand new website including a beautiful online store with secure payment options. Stay tuned for more details!
Summer is full on busy. And we can’t complain. We had a week and a half tour in Wales and Ireland at the beginning of June. We were hired for two festivals, and played some gigs around Ireland between the two. Foghorn Stringband convened at Fire in the Mountain, a small festival held on a farm in the mountains of Wales out near Aberystwyth. Sammy and Nadine were wrapping up a UK tour with Joel Savoy and Jesse Lege, their last gig of the tour at Fire in the Mountain. It was nice to overlap, and we all joined on stage for the last set. Fire in the Mountain is a musically eclectic festival and the setting has a dear, rustic, old world feel. A barnyard is the site of the main stage, a timber frame structure, surrounded by old stone barns. Little bars serving cocktails and local beer and cider nestle inside the barns. That cider is powerful mystical, and one must take care not to overdo! Attendees and bands alike camped in canvas Bell tents by the river in a little valley surrounded by forest and sheep pastures, reminiscent of the hobbit’s Shire. The weather was gorgeous all weekend, and met up with some old pals, and enjoyed playing tunes in camp, as well a culminating session in the middle of the river. Keeping cool.
We bid farewell to Jesse and Joel, (we’ve just be seen them again in the NW) and carried on the next day to Liverpool to rest before the next leg of our journey. A return to clean laundry and showers and real beds was welcome, and our good friends, the Southerns kept drinks in our hands, and kept us well fed. We flew off to Dublin the next day, and drove up to Cookstown in Northern Ireland to play a house concert at the handmade home and barn known as the Red Room. Sharon and Arne have become our friends over the years, and we always enjoy a chance to visit and share a wee glass.
Our show at the Cobblestone in Dublin brought a warm crowd and there was good craic in the house that night. It was packed full, and while slightly too warm and too crowded, I think people sort of like that on some level. Brings out the craic even more when people are all shoved together in a warm room. Our friends from I Draw Slow were in attendance, as was our fiddler friend from Montana, Mr. Ron Cane. I got proposed to by a fella in the bar, (whose line was, “a face without freckles is like a sky without stars”) and learned a few new dirty jokes. Enjoyed my first perfect pint of Guinness of the trip. All was well.
Headford and Campbell’s pub was our next stop. The band hadn’t been there since their very first visit to Ireland in 2003. So we were a bit overdue. But they welcomed us back, and Willie still had a Foghorn poster from that first show hung in the bar. And Mouse, our attentive sound man, was the very same who had done sound for the guys in 2003. (Mouse later in the evening entertained us with his own talents – he’s a gorgeous singer!) And Sandy, well she was still there, and it was good to finally meet her after hearing the tales. The boys had wistfully described a parting view of her leaning against the wall, beautiful with torn jeans and a cigarette as they drove away. She’s still got it, and she helps with booking at Campbell’s. Ah Sandy. She taught them how to pour their first pint after all. We had a full house for the show, and afterwards, the usual Thursday session commenced and I don’t think we made it home to our beds until 3 in the morning! It was a lovely session for many reasons. Many talented musicians were present, and all took turns singing songs, and playing tunes. But really anything goes… from Ray Charles to a slow traditional ballad.
Friday arrived and we drove up to Westport to burrow in for the weekend at the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival. We housed central at the Wyatt Hotel in the the middle of town, and everything was walking distance. The festival is centered around small performances and sessions in pubs around town, and with a simple schedule, there is plenty of time to be part of things.
We performed Friday night in a three-band bill in the protestant church in town, a large old stone church with high ceilings with elegant paintings and carvings all about. All the Saints surrounded us from above while we played through our set. We trailed up the hill after the show, and settled right in to a session outside of our hotel bar. Folks gathered round and enjoyed the music until the wee hours. Saturday afternoon, we performed in a Mystery Show hosted by the Red Room in the back of Malloy’s pub in the Yard Bar, a glass-ceilinged room. The show was so fun, and all acoustic. More sessions followed that afternoon and evening. And again, it was wee hours before we hit our beds. Which made waking up the next morning for the gospel set at the protestant church, a bit of a feat. But we all managed it fine, and got the vocal chords working in time for the all-acoustic set. The church was full up, which, for a protestant church in the west of Ireland, was a bit outside the norm, and the priest didn’t miss the opportunity to slip in a few words, prayers and a bit of scripture. Our gospel set was in lieu of the normal church service after all. It was glorious to sing at the top of our lungs in that big church hall. The acoustics were lovely. Father Val had some remarkably thoughtful things to say about music. I wish I’d written it down, but it was something to the effect of music being a blessing to us, and it helps us in many ways we cannot define, not the least of which is the emotional release. And whether the words strike us or not, often simply the melody will. As he spoke of all the musical instruments in the bible, he remarked at how we were missing a ram’s horn, and might consider adding one to our band!
We returned to our homes in the NW, and Yukon respectively, and Caleb and myself packed up and shot straight out to Weiser for a week of unplugging in that beloved dry dusty field called Stickerville. Sammy and Nadine were home in the Yukon as well as teaching at a music camp to the north of Whitehorse. Then it was the Great Big Fais Do Do, a dance and music festival in Portland that Caleb has put on now for the third year in a row. It was a big success, and here’s to the growth of it and many more years! Jesse Lege, Joel Savoy, and Kelli Jones were up from Louisiana to play Cajun music.
Foghorn met up in early July for a great little tour out in Colorado where we played at High Mountain Hayfever in Westcliffe, and the Rocky Mountain Old Time Festival in Berthoud, CO. We performed shows in Gunnison at the I-Bar Ranch as well as a nice little backyard concert in Lafayette, CO. From there we all flew back to the NW, and met up at my folks’ farm for a nice little weekend gathering of close friends. We camped and cooked and played a lot of tunes.
Looking forward, we have lots coming up. The Caleb Klauder Country Band is headed to the Calgary Folk Festival this coming weekend, and then out to Maine for the Ossippee Valley Music Festival. They’ll also be in Boston, MA, Ridgefield, CT, and Hudson, NY so check out calebklauder.com for more details.
Foghorn will be in and around Portland for Pickathon in early August. Then in mid-August, we’re off to Ireland for the second time this year! Hope you’re having a great summer, and we hope to see you out there on the road! -Reeb
So much cool stuff coming up.
Next up: Pickathon! Check out the line up:
Then the Northeast at the Old Tone Roots Music Festival
And more to be announced soon! Check our schedule often to see all the updates.
Our recent tour took us to what we are calling the Mid-Atlantic, and it went well, don’t I swear it! We came home with money in our pockets and a pack of good memories. We began in Baltimore with a sold-out house concert on a hot, muggy night that felt like the dead of summer in the Maritime NW, mere spring to those East Coasters. The following night in Delaware brought us to the Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music in Newark. They hadn’t seen the band for about ten years, and so, saw live and in person the current lineup. We spoke to many nice folks that evening who were long time fans of the band. We got to stay with and visit our friend Rafe Stefanini that night, and he also joined us on stage with his banjo.
The following day, we headed for Lemont, PA to play on the local radio station, and when Nadine opened up the bass case, she found the bridge collapsed, and the tailpiece in pieces. Needless to say, there was no time to do anything about it then, and we played on the radio bass-less. But within an hour’s time, Caleb and Nadine had jumped to action, and rounded up borrowed basses for that night, and the following night’s gigs, and had connected with someone who could repair our bass the next day. All was well. As for Lemont, PA, Acoustic Brew is a concert series held in a beautiful space that is a dance and yoga studio by day. True to its name, the show is all acoustic, and I for one really enjoy that style of performing more than any other, rare though it is. It’s freeing to sing at the top of the lungs without thought of a microphone. All the volunteers there make this great concert series possible. And we were kindly hosted by a couple of the volunteers in their beautiful home. The next night’s show was in Berryville, VA at the Barns of Rose Hill, a lovely venue inside of a restored barn. The site was gifted to the City of Berryville by a benefactor, and now is a place of cultural and musical enrichment for the community.
This was an eventful night, for we met a gentleman named Skip Ashby at the intermission. Skip Ashby is the son of well-known Virginia fiddler, John Ashby. John Ashby’s recordings have had a big influence on Foghorn Stringband’s sound, specifically the three-finger banjo style that was a signature of the early days of Foghorn. Never before had the Foghorn lads heard the old time fiddle music accompanied quite in this way by three-finger style banjo, and that rhythmic sound changed the band, lending to that hard-driving sound that Foghorn became known for. John Ashby started his band, The Free State Ramblers, in the 1930’s, and the band is still going today under Skip’s lead. Skip was a fiddle contest finalist himself in 2005 at Clifftop. There aren’t many bands that have carried on continuously for over 80 years! They mostly play around Fauquier County.
Skip was kind enough to invite us by the Ashby home place the next day, and serendipitously, we had the night off, so had plenty of time for a side trip. How fortunate we did since it turned into a rich afternoon I won’t soon forget. After getting up early to get the bass to the shop and repaired, (which took only about 20 minutes at Thomas Wolf bright beautiful high-ceilinged shop, full of curiosities), we arrived at the Ashby residence in the afternoon. The old farmhouse sits thoughtfully placed on a gentle grassy ridge overlooking pastures and creeks. Skip and his lovely wife Ann were sitting on the porch with Richard Ashby, who, incidentally, played guitar on many of the Ashby recordings, thus is one of my heroes. Then it was a matter of mutual admiration as the afternoon played out. The four of us sat, incredulous to be sitting on the very porch that had hosted the music of our hero John Ashby, and all who played with him. Family and friends rolled up one by one joining the cheerful group, as happy to be visited by the likes of us as we were to visit with them. Among them was David McLaughlin of the Johnson Mountain Boys, who took time away from his busy schedule as a Justice of the Peace, marrying folks at all hours of the day, to visit with us. When he left us around dusk, he still had at least two weddings to perform that night! It was clear that the spirit of the place was founded in the joy of life and music, humbly, and with kindness and a value of family and community. We visited, laughed and played tunes all afternoon until the dusk came on. No one wanted it to end. Gradually the friends and family drifted away to home and dinner and we finally let the Ashbys alone to eat dinner and we went on our way after fond goodbyes. Our friends from Baltimore had lent us their farmhouse for the night, and we enjoyed a peaceful night off in the country.
The next day we traveled to Bristol, VA, or is it TN? Well, both if you’re in the right part of town. We arrived at the Birthplace of County Music Museum to be part of the first reincarnation of the old radio show Farm and Fun Time, a live show devoted to music and farming. I can hardly imagine a more splendid partnership! Back in the 40’s the show came on multiple times daily, once at morning coffee break time, and again at lunch time when farmers would come in from the fields. The show gave a short farm report of conditions, weather, and tips, and also featured many of the finest bluegrass and old-time artists of the period. It was a companion for farming folks; a friend over the airwaves. And now it is being revived! Farm and Fun Time will come out monthly, and will have live music from traveling bands, stories, recipes, and tips, as well as news from the farming world. It’s a thing of beauty folks, and luckily, you can tune in from anywhere in the world by streaming radiobristol.com. Foghorn was happy to be part of the maiden voyage, along with Bill and the Bells, host Kris Truelson, banjo player Corbin Hayslett, and the farm folks that are devoted to health and sustainability in the local farming community who will be participating in this great show. The excitement in the crowd was palpable that night and I have a feeling the show will become a staple.
Now, that’s not all that Bristol had for us: The next morning we found ourselves at the Pointer Brand factory. Anyone who knows Pointer Brand knows that they have been in the business of creating durable, American-made workwear for over 100 years. Not only did we get a tour of the building: (a gorgeous old brick building with high ceilings, lots of big windows, and expansive work spaces that have probably not changed much since the place was founded in 1913 by founder, Mr. L.C. King) but we were given a smokin’ deal on some garments we bought there… all of us came away with new jackets and overalls. The business is four generations old now, each time being passed down to the son who was interested enough to buy the place from his father and carry on. They still do things the old way at LC King, sporting a unique business model that is unusually ethical compared to the status quo here in our country. Many workers there have been happily employed for generations. They take pride in their process, and like to keep things simple, not compromising quality for growth. They believe that success is good worker conditions and pay, a continuation of the business, and beyond that they are not grossly profit driven as many businesses are. Heck, they even turned down a contract with Walmart, knowing that that is exactly the kind of outfit that destroyed mom and pop businesses all across our country, especially since the 90’s when NAFTA came into existence, making it easier for businesses of that type to outsource labor to other countries, where manufacturing was cheaper, taking away jobs and revenue from our communities. Most of their designs have never been changed, and it seems people can really rely on the quality of these garments, made from materials are sourced from close by. So look out, next time you see us, we may be wearing Pointer Brand gear, and looking handsome in it too I daresay.
We carried on to Franklin, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville for a fun night of Merlefest prep at Music City Roots. If you aren’t familiar, Music City Roots is a live-streamed audio-video show that happens every Wednesday night. There are always several musical acts with interludes of live ads and interviews with the musicians. It’s always a lot of fun, and a great opportunity to meet and hang with other musicians out on tour & hear music. The folks at MCR are so nice and always hospitable. If you missed the show check out the MCR archives online.
We drove on to Boone, NC the next day, with a lengthy interlude in Knoxville to visit some old pals, and grill dinner in their backyard. We arrived late in Boone, in just enough time for a night’s sleep before our marathon of three sets in a row at Merlefest, starting at 10:45am! We played on the Traditional Stage, The Hillside Stage, and then the Watson Stage with about an hour in between each set to chat with fans, and get ourselves to the next location. I must say, it wasn’t hard to stay warmed up, when we were finished, we could relax and know that our work was done. It was a hot, sunny day, hitting nearly 90 degrees I think. We ran into many old friends and made many new ones, and thanks to Steve and Merlefest for having us there after all these years! By the end of the night, as Old Crow blasted off of the main stage up we found ourselves invited to a shrimp boil up the hill, and after we’d had our fill, we pulled out the instruments to repay the cook in tunes, and played late into the night, at least until we made our way into the cook’s mirrored bus full of handmade guitars and conversations.
Our Saturday night was spent at the Floyd Country Store in Floyd, VA. In all my nostalgic renderings of a rural Saturday night dance, the type of dance that used to occur in my grandparents’ time in rural Washington State, but that I wouldn’t have the joy to grow up with myself; somehow foolishly traded off at some point, probably with the advent of the television… here it was in real life in Floyd, VA. As we ate a delicious home cooked dinner from the deli, we watched as store employees in the homey general store cleared carts of merchandise, putting rows of chairs in their place, leaving a large open space in front of the stage for dancing. The place slowly packed out with folks of all ages sitting patiently in their chairs, waiting for the show to begin. Many had marked seats with their dancing shoes well before the show. As soon the the taters were sung out by the fiddle, folks hopped to the floor, and the dancing didn’t stop ’til the last note was rung. It was a swell exchange, and I think audience and musician alike were equally fed by the night’s event. We had the pleasure of being joined on stage by Mr. Travis Stuart accompanying us on the banjo for most of the set. It was a rare moment, our dance music being answered with dance. Many times we perform a concert and people politely sit and listen in seats, and that’s all well and good, we are curators of this old music in a sense… but to have it serve its true purpose put us all in high spirits.
Folks were in fine fettle, and mostly stuck around all three hours of the night, trickling out slowly as it got late. I watched as one older lady, dressed in a purple jacket, with a perfect hairdo, dyed, curled and hair-sprayed, waved goodbye to her friend across the room with a wagging wrist and two fingers, the rest of her hand clutched around a hankie, a motion that reminded me of my dear great aunts who always seemed to have a pretty hankie tucked into their watchband. The crowd showed a mix of ages from the smallest children running about the floor between dancers, to the old folks, who by the way, were still dancing all night! It’s a pretty special scene there at the Floyd Country Store, and the dancing and music has carried on there since the time of our fiddlin’ heroes. For those folks, it isn’t a novelty, but an ordinary way of life. And I wish more places were the same. To gather socially around music and dance that way seems so joyful and nourishing to people. Folks of all walks of life, and all sorts of backgrounds gather together for a common experience.
We made it to DC at the end of the tour, and were greeted by our most beloved friend and booking agent, Martha, and her family. She puts on a concert series at Hill Center, an old Naval Hospital, now an arts and event space. The free show was meant to be outdoors on the lawn, gingham and picnics and all, but alas, it was a rainy day, so we were moved inside to the hall, and folks crowded in as best they could. It was a great end to an incredible tour, and we are so lucky to have such memorable travels, meet so many good folks, and get to share this music where we go. Thanks to all the folks that support live music, and we’ll try and come back soon!
For the next few weeks, Sammy and Nadine will be hanging and teaching in the Yukon as well as building a tiki bar, gardening, certainly cooking up some good grub, and doing some touring with Joel Savoy and Jesse Lege in the UK in late May. Caleb and Reeb will be doing some of the same: iced tea in the backyard, cooking, gardening (if my seedlings are still living), visiting friends and family, working on projects of the home, as well as doing some touring with the Caleb Klauder Country Band, both on a little NW run through the San Juans, Vancouver BC, & Edison, WA; and later in May, Alaska!!! Foghorn will next be reconvening in the great land of Wales in early June at the Fire in the Mountain Festival, and will carry on to visit its splendid neighbor, Ireland, for the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival as well as some shows around the country. Enjoy the Spring y’all!
We’re heading out on tour!
It’s gonna be a great one, taking us to MerleFest, Music City Roots, Floyd Country Store, Hill Center in DC and many more! Make sure to check our schedule for all the details!
And we’ll have our newly released LP of Devil in the Seat! If you can’t buy it at one of our shows, just visit Different Folk Records and they’ll ship you one!
Sammy’s fiddle DVDs have been reissued! New smaller packaging, same tunes! Get them at Elderly Instruments or when we’re on tour starting today!
Our old saying, “The places old time music takes ya!” (spoken with a shake of the head), was taken to new heights the last weekend of March when we found ourselves performing inside of a snow castle on a frozen lake in Yellowknife, NWT, a city and province in Canada that have seven official languages. It seems anything is possible there, as all weekend we were surrounded by activity: dog sled races, cross country skiing, snowmobiles, biplanes, helicopters, hockey and curling tournaments; people were out and about in the “spring” weather.
Bundled in full winter attire, we performed Friday afternoon, and again Saturday night in the Grand Ice Ballroom for the Royal Ball, the culminating event of the month-long festival. The crowd was alight that magical evening, and they danced and sang along, and we felt the love. As we played, we watched from the semi-heated stage (just enough that our fingers weren’t too stiff) as Snowking himself proudly waltzed his wife around the icy dance floor. Snowking is a larger than life character who is often seen from afar wearing a bright yellow coat, has a huge white beard, the most sparklingly handsome blue eyes, and is of good humor, not to mention possesses a clever knack for storytelling and song. He began building snow castles for his children many years ago. Those small “backyard-sized” castles evolved into the annually-built, quite sizable castles like the one we recently spent a great deal of time in. Four to five foot thick hard-packed snow walls, arched hallways and doorways, VIP balcony, translucent glassy ice windows, turrets, flags, ice and snow sculptures, carvings, and accent lighting all make up this grand structure. The best of all though, was…jing-jang-jong…The Ice Slide. We climbed Dead Man’s Stairs to the highest point of the castle, a large turret where one could gaze out across the frozen Great Slave Lake during the day, or gaze at the stars and aurora borealis by night. Then, instead of going back down the stairs: super boring; one could simply hop onto one of the two side-by-side Ice Slides and bomb down a luge-like chute at high speed, right under a snow bridge tunnel, curl out onto the courtyard below, and glide to a stop in front of large gothic ice windows. Then you picked yourself up and sauntered into the ballroom. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Caleb was the fastest among us, gliding the farthest at the bottom of the slide. We also recorded his chilliest X-Man ever at 3 degrees Fahrenheit. After great hesitation, he ventured a perilous X-Man jump on the ice in front of the castle, and landed it without doing the splits, much to his relief.
From the moment that we arrived, to the moment we left, we felt so welcomed by the people of Yellowknife, most especially our new friends on the Snowking crew, and the Aurora Fiddle Society. And we know they have a strong Northern fiddle tradition of their own. They hosted us, fed us, showed us around, chauffeured us, and generally made sure we were taken care of. In return, we performed at the snow castle and taught two days of workshops with the Aurora Fiddle Society, who brought in townspeople, as well as kids from neighboring communities. We taught a string band class, where everyone learned tunes together, and we also broke off into small groups teaching fiddle, guitar, and harmony singing.
Late nights in the castle brought after-show backstage gatherings in the tiny arched snow hallway. I likened it to spending time inside of a beer cooler, only with the beautiful kind of muffled sound that comes from thick snow. Adjacent were a small, greenroom, and Snowking’s office, each lightly heated, each about 6’x6’ rooms with low ceilings, which became gathering places crammed full of people telling stories and talking over cigarettes and drink. Snowking’s office was filled with pictures and notes tacked all over the walls, memorabilia from over the years, and various cross-cut saws hanging up that had been cut in half and handles put on to live on as snow saws. There were yellow coats hanging around on hooks for Snowking security to wear, and wooden benches lining the walls. That was the part of the night where everyone relaxed after the day’s work, and the magic of that little community dazzled a bit more strongly inside those thick snow walls under the northern lights.
We left there a little sad… I think we fell in love a little bit with this community and this great winter event. It just means we will have to return soon and visit the Yellowknifers! Hail Snowking!
We have just finished a 10-day tour of New York, Vermont, and Mass, and though it went by in a flurry, we had a wonderful time meeting new and old friends, experiencing some winter weather, and performing at a couple of festivals for the first time. The tour kicked off February 11th at Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn where we shared the bill with our friends, The Mike & Ruthy Band. Despite cold winds that seemed to blow right through our layers and coats, those hardy New Yorkers ventured out to see the show. We got to catch up with fellow musician friends, cousins, and old pals. We went on with the Mike & Ruthy Band to Albany the next day to perform at The Linda, WAMC’s beautiful performance space. Of course we were a bit sleep deprived that night after staying up talking around Mike & Ruthy’s kitchen table until 5am the night before. That is not the first time that has happened at that kitchen table I am sure. With a fire in the wood stove, and records spinning, it took many hours to get on to sleeping. Nice to catch up with old friends.
The following day, as we made our way to Framingham, Mass to perform at the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, we stopped off in the Hudson Valley to do a video shoot for the OldTone Roots Music Festival. They are beginning promotions for this year’s festival in September. Foghorn will be there! The guys were pro and we filmed a few songs and tunes in a beautiful refurbished (and heated) barn. Keep an eye out for these videos. This will be the second annual OldTone Roots Music Festival, and I’ve a feeling, with the mission behind this festival, that it will become a sought after event for the summer season. The curators of the festival are three friends who have an ear for music that is firmly rooted, yet alive and kicking. I think many people are longing for these kinds of sounds these days with all the commercialized music that is forced upon us all the time. So, come join us there in September!
We had a fantastic weekend at the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival just outside of Boston in Framingham, MASS. From the moment we walked in the door, the festival had a welcoming and friendly air, and folks there really embraced the Foghorn Stringband, despite the fact that we are an old time string band! Ha! We like to dispel the bluegrass vs old time chasm as frequently as possible as these musics are so intertwined, and we love them all. It’s all country music as far as I’m concerned! We felt well-loved and met many new friends and fans. The festival is held in the Sheraton Hotel, and with the winter weather, there was really no reason at all to go outside. We had everything we needed indoors: tunes, food, and our beds. We performed a main stage set, as well as the Sunday night dance to close the festival. We hope to go back there soon! It is a wonderful tribute to the music of Joe Val.
Monday morning came awfully early after staying up til the wee hours playing tunes and visiting with pals at Joe Val, and we had to drive to Provincetown, on the very tip of Cape Cod to play on WOMR Radio. Afterwards, we made our way back down the cape to Orleans, where we were hosted by Dinah who curates the Brick Hill House Concert series. It was snowing and blowing and yet folks trickled in for the evening performance. They were such a warm and receptive audience, and we had a great time putting on a show for them. Tuesday night took us to Northampton, MASS to the Parlor Room at Signature Sounds. This is always a great audience for us. Those folks show the love. Nice to see so many new faces there too. It’s a pleasure to play there. We drove to Burlington, VT the next day for a show at Nectars. The Burlingtonians (is that what you are called?) must have been busy with other things that night, as not so many came out to see us, but those that did made it worthwhile. We stayed with friends on the shores of Lake Champlain, home to many fat squirrels enjoying the winter fare from the multitude of bird feeders hanging outside. The lake didn’t freeze over this year, but we watched ice floats drift by along the shore. Our good buddy and musical collaborator, Joel Savoy showed up a day early for the weekend Spice on Snow Festival in Montpelier, VT that we would all perform at together as Foghorn Stringband, and Cajun Country Revival.
Spice on Snow is in it’s sixth year I believe, and what a sweet festival it is. Perfectly intimate, and everything is right downtown, so it is not hard to decide what to do, as it is all within a few blocks’ walk. We arrived in Montpelier on Thursday, and Foghorn played for the square dance at the Legion Hall right in town. We performed with Jesse Lege and Joel Savoy as Cajun Country Revival for the Friday night cajun dance at City Hall. This is great fun, and there are many iterations: Caleb on drums or mandolin and singing, Sammy on fiddle or guitar, Nadine on bass and singing, Joel on fiddle or electric guitar, Jesse singing and playing accordion, and myself playing triangle or guitar and singing. We all taught a variety of workshops at the Bethany Church during the day on Saturday. Harmony singing, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, string band class, as well as a cajun band class. Then our work was finished, and we spent the evening playing a session at a bar, then watching the Sweetback Sisters perform a concert. The festival culminated with a cajun dance hosted by the Green Mountain Playboys. The Playboys invited Cajun Country Revival on stage later in the night, so we had one last hurrah for the festival. It is always a pleasure to play music with Jesse and Joel, and I’m thankful we keep getting opportunities to do so. Jesse is a powerhouse on the accordion, instantly lifting the music, and his singing cuts straight to the heart. Or grabs you right in the balls, one or the other. Probably both. And Joel’s fiddle playing is energetic and tasty, a powerful sound rhythmically, or when he’s soloing, or when he lends perfectly woven backup to a singer. We enjoy the collaboration whenever it happens. It was a great weekend all around.
And now we are parting ways for a few weeks. Sammy and Nadine go on to play a few gigs in Montreal and Hawaii, and Caleb goes home to dive into some projects in Portland and to teach a week long fiddle residency to Pendleton grade school students. I am heading out to Central Washington to visit family and await the arrival of my new nephew! We will meet up at the Snow King Festival in Yellowknife, NT, Canada. We will be performing inside of an ice castle…. the places old time music takes ya! We are also very excited about the release of our first vinyl. Our latest recording Devil in the Seat arrives on vinyl March 11th, and we are excited for you to hear it in this high quality format!
We are so excited to announce our upcoming East Coast Tour! We will be doing a few shows with Mike + Ruthy in New York state at Jalopy in Brooklyn and The Linda in Albany! We are so honored to be part of the Joe Val Festival happening in Framingham, MA on February 13-14. Nice way to spend Valentine’s Day! Then a new venue for us, the Brickhill House Concert in Orleans, MA on February 15th. The Parlor Room will be next and up to Vermont at the Nectar’s Presents in Burlington. The tour will finish in Montpelier, VT at the Spice on Snow with The Cajun Country Revival! A whole weekend filled with Cajun and Old Time Music, delicious food and lots of dancing!
Looking back at 2015, we sure can say that we got around! From theAnchorage Folk Festival with the Cajun Country Revival to a tour of the Pacific Northwest across to the Northeast, we covered the coasts! Then back up to Alaska to the Folk Festival in Juneau, then a tour of Ireland (Fiddle Fair!), Scotland and England! We met again for a quick European tour to play the gigantic Roskilde festival in Denmark, Gooikoorts in Belgium and a week in Sweden! To the East Coast we returned for the Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival and drove through upstate New York, Ontario and finished atWheatland in Michigan! We teamed up with Joel Savoy and Jesse Lege for a little tour of Virginia, DC, Maryland and West Virginia and finish our year of touring with a Midwest tour from St. Louis to Minneapolis.
Caleb and Reeb traveled a lot with the country band and Sammy and Nadine moved into a cute little cabin in downtown Whitehorse.
Where next you ask?
We won’t be gathering dust in 2016 either it looks like! Lots of stuff in the works, but here are the festivals and tours we are thrilled to share with you:
The year will kick off with a Northeast tour in New York with a couple of gigs with Mike+Ruthy, finishing up at Spice on Snow, in Montpelier, VT with Joel Savoy and Jesse Lege as The Cajun Country Revival! The Summit School of Traditional Music and Culture is currently holding a Fundraiser, help them outhere!
We’ll then go all the way up to Northern Canada to play the Snow King Festival in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories! They build a gigantic snow castle on the lake and events take place in the castle for the whole month of March, including the Royal Ball, which we’ll be part of!
Then, it’s across the Atlantic we go to play the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival and a few other gigs we can’t tell you about just yet!
Summer is also looking really good! Confirmed so far is the High Mountain Hay Fever in beautiful Westcliffe, CO. Stay tuned for more details!
All our dates are on our website. Keep checking it, events are added weekly!
Devil in the Seat LP!
We are so excited to annouce that Devil in the Seat will soon be released in LP format by Different Folk Records!
It will be available early in the new year!
Have you got all our CDs?
There are lots of CDs in our discography, think you have everything? CDBaby has hard copies and digital files of our discography. There’s our latest of course, Devil in the Seat, all the other ones that Foghornrecorded, the Foghorn Trio, the Foghorn Duo,Caleb has a few country CDs, there’s a Caleb and Reeb one, Nadine and Sammy also recorded one!
A new CD from the Caleb Klauder Country band featuring Reeb Willms will be available in the next year, keep your ears open for the release date!
We would like to wish very happy holidays filled with love, friends, family and great music! May the new year bring you happiness and peace!
We hope to see a lot of you in 2016!
If only Chevy Chase was part of it, oh well. Foghorn just wrapped up our last tour of the year, a little shot through the Midwest from St. Louis to Minneapolis. It was a fine time, and thanks to all our fans throughout the area that came out to see us play and support live music! It’s hard to believe, but Foghorn won’t reconvene for a tour until February. We’ll be headed for the Northeast at that time, through New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont, so keep an eye out for us there! It seems like a long time from now, but it will be a real pleasure to settle in to some good home living! There’s no place like it. We have sure been on the road non-stop this year, and are all looking forward to some much needed rest & relaxation. We’ll be hot and ready to ride when February rolls around!
Our Midwest tour started in St Louis, where we played the KDHX Stage, a beautiful venue inside the radio station. The crowd was lively, and it was a great kickoff to the tour. We taught workshops the next day at the St. Louis Folk School. We played a private wedding in St. Louis Halloween evening, some guests were in costume! We headed north to Chicago to play a matinee concert at the City Winery, and played a square dance in Evanston the next evening, just north of Chicago. The dance was held at a Legion Hall, and the floor was full of dancers. It is always rejuvenating to play a dance. Our music is dance music after all, and it feels good at some level to play the music as it was intended every so often.
We headed up to Cedar Rapids Iowa and played at the Legion Arts Hall, a historic building built in 1891. It started out as a Czech Presbyterian Community Center, and now it is a center for the arts. In the mean time, it had a few lives, and survived the great flood of 2008, and as a result was fully restored into the beautiful place it is today.
Then we commenced the coffee roastery portion of our tour! We drank some awful good coffee… starting in Depere, WI, near Green Bay, at the Luna Cafe, a small and cozy little room where they close up after coffee shop hours, and clear out all the tables and invite people back for the evening show. The owner of Luna Cafe also brought us to perform the next morning at the school where his son attends. The kids loved the music, dancing up a storm in front of the stage. We carried on to Milwaukee after the school show, and performed that night at the Anodyne Cafe, another roastery that aside from making great coffee, also serves up some great wood fired pizza up the road at their second location. Milwaukee brought out a heck of a crowd that night, and the audience showed the love, which made the performance part extra fun. We got to see some old pals that night too. We stayed along the lake in a nice little hotel, and somehow it sorta felt like being in the countryside, right there in the middle of the city. Mark of the Luna Cafe, and Matt of Anodyne Coffee are both wonderful hosts, and took great care of us.
Leo and Leona’s. You almost know what it is like just by the name. At the intersection of two county highways in rural central Wisconsin is Leo and Leona’s, an old-school bar and dance hall. It’s in the Driftless area where high rolling farmlands mingle with deep forested hollers. Walking into Leo & Leona’s, it is easy to feel right at home. There is a sweet jukebox in the corner, and plenty of wonderfully tawdry wall hangings from when Leo and Leona owned the bar. Now it is owned by three brothers, who seem to have kept it beautifully much the way it was. Signs hang on the wall written by Leo and Leona that say things like, “Closed today. Just plain pooped.” or “closed today, come ‘round to the backyard.” Foghorn ate dinner at their first Friday fish fry as a band that night. And our old pals, Tim Foss, and Josh Rabie joined us for the show, both with an opening set, and as guests during our set.
Minneapolis brought a close to the tour. We played a sold-out show at the Turf Club with the Cactus Blossoms and Jack Klatt, followed by a fine time afterwards as we all packed onto a tiny stage in the basement bar for the after party, and took turns singing country songs. If the bar hadn’t had to close up, I’m sure we’d have been there ’til the wee hours! To finish off the tour we played a concert Sunday afternoon at St. James Lutheran Church in Burnsville, just south of the city. Sammy’s family joined us on stage with his brother Eric playing banjo, dad Mark doubling Caleb on mandolin, and sister in law, Teresa clogging to the music. It was a family affair, and Sammy’s mother and aunt baked a whole lot of amazingly tasty cookies for the intermission. I probably ate a few too many, but really couldn’t help myself. It was nice to end the tour with family in Sammy’s homeland. It is fun to see him go down memory lane a little more each time we are there. We all had early morning flights the next morning to go our separate ways. The fall weather all through this tour was truly amazing, warm and sunny with fall colors really showing!
Coming up, Foghorn will divide and conquer: Sammy and Nadine will be doing a Home Routes tour as a duo. Home Routes offers circuits of house concerts in different regions of Canada, and this one will be a 10-day run through Alberta. Then they will return to Whitehorse, Yukon and enjoy some home time in their new cabin, and will be teaching some workshops there.
Caleb and Reeb set off with the Caleb Klauder Band for a 10-day tour starting in DC, and going through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, bringing some dancehall country music around to the people there. They will also be playing a few shows around the region as a duo back in Oregon just prior to Christmas, as well as playing a New Year’s Eve show at the Spare Room with Caleb Klauder Band. And they will perform again as a duo at the Portland Old Time Gathering in January.
Prior to our recent Midwest tour we had some great times touring with our pals, Joel Savoy and Jesse Lege in mid-October. We did a five day run with them through DC at the Hill Center, a house concert in Baltimore, MD, then Shepherdstown, WV at the beautiful Opera House, and ended with Home Craft Days in Big Stone Gap,VA, and Pennington Gap, VA. We always have a great time collaborating with Jesse and Joel, and it is exciting to see what music comes out of us when we band together. Most nights we did an old time set with Foghorn, and a cajun set with Cajun Country Revival, which combined Jesse and Joel with Sammy and Nadine or all of us. Home Craft Days was the culmination of the tour. It is a festival that has a great lineup of local old time music, as well as many local artisans showing and selling their wares, everything from broom-making to basket weaving. It was so refreshing to be, not an anomaly musically, but to be part of a live active community of traditional musicians. I could have sat there all day and watched the whole lineup. There was also quite a crowd of flat footers waiting in the wings and flooding the dance floor whenever a dance tune was played. It was fun to see the dancing as a regular part of life for young and old alike.
After the CCR tour, Sammy and Nadine drove back to Louisiana with Jesse and Joel to spend the week visiting there, and teaching harmony singing at Black Pot Camp. Caleb and Reeb went to Elkins, WV to teach mandolin and guitar at Augusta Old Time Week. Caleb also hosted his second annual Great Big Fais Do Do back in Portland at the legendary Spare Room Lounge in early October, a three day festival dedicated to country and cajun music and dance. And the Caleb Klauder band did a tour from AMA in Nashville to Chicago. So, you can see, we’ve all been keeping very busy! We hope you are too, but not too busy! And that you enjoy your holidays more than ever! May the holidays be restful and cozy, and with lots of good eatin’!
We are so grateful for the many amazing places we get to travel to, and wonderful people we meet all along the way. Thanks to everyone who supports our livelihoods as musicians, and supports live music in general! We love what we do, and want to keep doing it!
It has been awhile since the last recap of our Foghorn travels. The summer was a busy one, and one tour bled into the next. In the whirlwind of travel, gigs, seeing old friends, making new ones, and being in a new place, state, sometimes country, every day, the quiet time for reflecting seems nonexistent. Sometimes it is enough in the day simply to try and get enough good sleep, try to move the body a little after sitting long hours in the van, eat something reasonably healthy, and be present and energetic for the evening’s performance! I’m lucky to perform with three folks that manage to do this night after night. So, forgive me if this post is outdated, but I hope you might yet enjoy a few stories from our travels…
We had a remarkable summer! Caleb and I had a special opportunity to perform on A Prairie Home Companion with Caleb’s Country Band in Seattle in June, and got to hang with Garrison and all the gang. What a thrill! The two of us also had an inspiring week teaching at Voiceworks in Port Townsend, WA. Meanwhile, Sammy and Nadine had a great tour with Jesse Lege and Joel Savoy from Central California up the West Coast to Portland, OR.
Foghorn met up for a tour in Europe in July. We started in Denmark at the Roskilde Festival. We lodged nearby with some old pals in Christiania in Copenhagen.
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.
We’re heading to the Midwest! Starting in St. Louis at The Stage @ KDHX and workshops organized by the Folk School! Then up to Chicago at the City Winery for a matinee show, then a fun Square Dance in Evanston. We’ll then head to Cedar Rapids to play the CSPS Hall then 3 dates in Wisconsin, Luna Cafe in De Pere, Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. in Milwaukee and Leo and Leona’s in Bangor. We’ll finish the tour in Minnesota with a double bill at the Turf Club with The Cactus Blossoms and a afternoon concert at St. James Lutheran Church in Burnsville. It’s going to be a great tour and we hope you can join and tell your friends and family about it!
We are so excited to announce our upcoming tour in DC, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia with Cajun Country Revival from October 13-17!
Spanning generations from across the nation the Cajun Country Revival is a veritable supergroup of American roots musicians. Comprised of Cajun musicians Jesse Lége and Joel Savoy and Portland Oregon’s Foghorn Stringband, this group presents a music that seems to embody all of the things that make life wonderful and together they’ve delighted audiences around the world celebrating rather than “performing” the music that brought them together: Cajun music and early Country music. Son of Cajun music royalty Marc and Ann and the founder of the Louisiana-based label Valcour Records, Joel Savoy is a GRAMMY winner for his production work with The Band Courtbouillon and a nine-time GRAMMY nominee, as well as a two-time winner of the Cajun French Music Association’s Fiddler of the Year Award. Having grown up literally at the feet of the Cajun great he represents his culture with an authority that few people his age can and his playing leaves no doubt that Cajun music is still very much alive. He has worked and played with the best of the best in south Louisiana as well as folks like John Fogerty, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Earle, and T-Bone Burnett. Sharing the stage with Joel for the last 15 years is the legendary Cajun powerhouse, Jesse Lége. Growing up in a rural pre-electricity home in Gueydan, LA, Jesse spoke Cajun French and learned music from relatives, neighbors, and the family’s much-loved battery-powered radio. Today he is one of the most admired Cajun accordionists and vocalists in the world, known especially for his high, clear, “crying” vocals. Jesse has been playing traditional Cajun music and singing Cajun French songs for over 35 years performing with a variety of well-known musicians in various Louisiana and southeast Texas dancehalls. He is a winner of numerous CFMA awards: Traditional Band of the Year, Accordion Player of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Band of the Year, and Song of the Year. In 1998 he was inducted into the Cajun Music Hall of Fame. Completing the revival is Portland Oregon’s Foghorn Stringband, made up of Caleb Klauder (WA) and Stephen “Sammy” Lind (MN) and Reeb Willms (WA) and Nadine Landry (Québec). Credited for igniting the Old Time Renaissance in Northwest, the Foghorn Stringband continues to stand out as the shining gold standard for American Stringband music. With their 8th album, Devil in the Seat in hand, thousands of shows and over a decade of touring under their belts, it’s no surprise that this band, as proclaimed by Stuart Mason, The Fiddle Freak, “has blossomed into a full-blown force of nature that threatens world domination.” Through all of this, they’ve never let the music grow cold; instead Foghorn has been steadily proving that American Roots music is a never-ending well of inspiration.
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!
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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!
See you there and tell your friends!
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!
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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!
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Before we get to all we’ve been up to these past few months, we would like toproudly announce our first Germany tour that will take place this upcoming May! All the info can be found on this website.
And we thought since we’ll be in Europe, why not jump over to Wales and play the Fire in the Mountain festival as well as a few other dates in England. All the info is on the schedule page of our website.
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!
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.
We’re now all ready for Germany and UK, looking forward to seeing everyone there!
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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 lots of 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!
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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.
Then we are going to play our first festival in Quebec, Memoire et Racines in Joliette, just North East of Montreal! We are so excited to see our “amis”!
Then in August we’ll be in Portland for Pickathon, don’t miss the annual amazing square dance on Friday night. Tons of friends will be playing too. Don’t miss Caleb Klauder’s Band, The Cactus Blossoms, Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz, Bradford Lee Folk and his Bluegrass Playboys, and many more, wow it’s gonna be a great one! Then we’re off to Alta, WY for the Targhee Bluegrass Festival and the Santa Fe Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival!
Then a bunch of stuff in the fall, including the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention Sept. 18-22 where we’ll be joined by Dirk Powell the Walker Creek Music Camp Oct. 11-14 and of course our Australia Tour Oct. 24-Nov. 16!
Have a great summer and see you around!
East to West
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!
That’s all for now! -Reeb
Well, Happy Holidays friends!
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)
Don’t forget about our two newest Albums of 2012. They make great christmas presents!!!
Both available from cdbaby
Thank you for all of your fabulous support, we appreciate all that you share with us. Happy Holidays
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!
Well hello there!
Was this the best summer EVER?!?!
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.
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.
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 next weekend brought us in the beautiful Columbia Gorge for the Bluegrass festival in Stevenson. We got to play a concert and a dance with awesome caller Caroline Oakley.
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!
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!
We are heading to the NimbleFingers Bluegrass and Old Time Workshops in Sorrento this weekend. Should be a blast, they promised more dancing this year, we can roll with that!
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!
Early March finds us driving here and there in the Midwest. We began our tour on March 2nd out in rural Wisconsin near Dodgeville at a beautiful old farm-gone folk school. Folklore Village, founded in the 1970’s, is a rural community center that promotes cultural folk tradtions. Many folks came out to see us, even though they had to brave a blizzard to do so. The howling winds couldn’t get through to us in that cozy hall. And afterwards the neighboring farmhouse sheltered us and tunes were played late into the night.
After a delicious feast of a breakfast thanks to our hosts Dan & Meghan, we drove to Chicago, arriving just in the nick of time… well, actually, just a little past the nick of time thanks to city traffic, to teach a string band workshop at the Old Town School. Our classes were small but good, and that place is an inspiring hub proving that folk traditions are alive and well. That evening we played a house concert at Danny and Annalee’s home in Chicago. We thought: how strange to play in the huge city of Chicago, in a small house in a small neighborhood to a small cross-section of the community. It’s a long way from home. Our warm audience made us feel so welcome and we all enjoyed the intimate setting a house concert provides. Thanks to our hosts and to Genevieve for bringing us all together.
It’s a bit of a drive from Chicago to St. Louis, but eventually we did see the Arch, and when we arrived in the warm afternoon, we had a warm welcome from our friends Andy & Hope Gribble. The Folk School of St. Louis was only a few blocks away and after a nice cold cider we wandered there for a pre-show potluck with the locals. Our concert that night was well received, and felt a bit like a house concert thanks to the intimate setting at the school. Folks ventured back to the house afterwards for tunes and visiting, and we all had a nice time. St Louis is home to some fine musicians!
After breakfast and a morning visit to the local chocolatier (whose dark chocolate covered salted caramels were divine!), we were headed for Urbana, Illinois. Also notable that morning was a visit to a local shop where you could buy aged scotches and whiskeys as well as all sorts of fancy liqueurs, infused vinegars and oils, and all from oak casks in whatever quantity you might desire. Can we get one of those back home? We arrived in Urbana in the afternoon and Caleb and Reeb taught a vocal workshop. That night we played at the Iron Post, and I have to say, the turnout for a Monday night was impressive. I think every table was filled, as well as the bar, and the room was warmed with the gentle hoots and hollers from our crowd. Not only that, but they danced! Thanks to Ed of the Folk and Roots Festival for helping with the show, to Julianne and Kate for setting up a workshop for us, and extra thanks to Julianne for hosting us that night.
A nice long morning walk was in order after those days in the car without any exercise. We drove to Iowa City and played that night at The Mill, a legendary bar and venue that has hosted the likes of Ola Belle Reed, Balfa Brothers, & Highwood Stringband over the years. The Iowa Friends of Old Time Music helped get the show together for us, and I felt like the room was two thirds full of fellow musicians, including our host Al Murphy, a notable local fiddler. We had a nice visit with him in his home later that night, looking over and listening to old records and talking about music.
After a great breakfast at the Bluebird Diner in Iowa City and 6 hours in the car, we pulled in Sioux Falls, SD, to be greeted by some fine tunes coming out of Tom’s garage. A nice walk through the golf course and a delicious stew, thanks to Kristi, then we were ready to go to Boonies Bar and BBQ. And what a crowd, possibly the most enthusiastic of the whole tour! Thanks to the Union Grove Pickers for kicking off the show and to the South Dakota Friends of Traditional Music for making this event happen!
Not every day we can say that we’ve played in many jazz clubs but that day, we played at the Dakota Club, Minneapolis’ fanciest jazz club. We shared the stage with our new favorite country band, the Cactus Blossoms. We had a great time, saw friends and family and got a kick out of seeing the banjo resting on the grand piano, probably a first in that establishment!
Maybe we had never been so excited by a 4.5 hour drive! We knew that a the end of the road, at the beautiful Maplelag, the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers had prepared the best weekend ever: Moosejaw, aka Dance Weekend aka ski-sauna-jacuzzi-cajun two-step-square dance-jumping in a freezing lake-singing-great food-picking-heaven! Thanks to everyone for organizing such a fine weekend! We drove back to Burnville, Sammy’s home town, and got in just in time for our final concert at the St. James Lutheran Church. Great to see familiar faces, lots of them being Sammy’s family. We finished up the concert by having Sammy’s dad and brother playing with us and his sister-in-law clogging. Back at Sammy’s parents, we had a feast, thanks Caleb for the perfectly grilled burgers and Reeb for a delicious salad!
Tour is over and we had a great time, superb weather, fine picking, wonderful visits and succulent meals. Thanks to everyone for making our Midwest Tour a success and keep in touch for next adventures, EUROPE in MAY!!!
Hello everyone! It’s been an exciting couple of months full of more incredible music and good times with friends. We’re all enjoying a bit of down time as a band, traveling around in different combos taking time off, playing gigs and picking up some new tunes and songs along the way and will be ready to hit the studio and the road in the new year. Good times ahead!
The Trio hit the road on October 13, starting in Austin at the sixth annual Austin Stringband Festival. We played a raging set and square dance until the wee hours. We also played a honky tonk/ cajun dance with another band we play with, Jesse Lege, Joel Savoy and the Cajun Country Revival (CCR!). Woohoo! It is by far one of the most beautiful locations for a festival we’ve ever seen. Hopefully some year we’ll get to stay all weekend!
From Austin we headed east to Lafayette, LA to play the famous Festivals Acadiens et Creoles. It was truly an honor to get to play along side so many of our music heroes! And thanks to all the dancers! Another highlight was getting to play a Saturday night show at a great bar called Artmosphere, packed with folks filled to the brim with the Festivals’ spirit! A special thanks goes out to the “Alaska Embassy” representing big time down there. You know who you are…
After a much needed few days off in Eunice we did a short tour over to Alabama and back, just in time to teach at the Blackpot Festival camp up near Eunice at the Lakeview RV Park. It was an amazing week full of classes raging from cajun singing to cajun cooking, with a whole lot of old time and swing in the middle, complete with night time dances to boot! We’re pretty sure we played the first square dance ever at Lakeview! It was the perfect lead up to the Blackpot Festival itself where Reeb joined up with all of us. (Yeah Reeb!) Thanks to the Red Stick Ramblers for putting on such a fine festival and for having us back again.
After another few days to relax we were headed over Alabama to back up Caleb, playing in his country band at a festival called Angel Ride and parted ways from there until New Years Eve. What a fun month it was. Caleb and Reeb headed to Georgia for some chill time and will soon do a tour on the East Coast with Caleb’s Country Band. Nadine and Sammy headed north to Quebec to visit friends and family do a tour of the Maritimes on a house concert circuit called Home Routes.
In other exciting news, Sammy will be involved in an exciting new project from time to time with some amazing musicians we’ve met over the years, April Verch, Riley Baugus and André Brunet. Fans of North American traditional fiddle music will not want to miss this! It will be called April Verch’s Heartland Expedition. Check out the details on April’s website and on facebook. Check ’em out somewhere in the coming year!!
All the best and keep a look out for upcoming Foghorn Stringband shows and a new album in the new year. Yeehoo!
Foghorn just returned from a wonderful tour of the Southeastern United States. We have always felt so welcome there, and are always pumped full of inspiration from the history, landscape, and mostly, from our good buddies down there who we are lucky enough to share good times and music with. It’s still true that you can learn the most from a musician hero of yours by staring down a campfire with him or her than trying to capture some tune on tape and lose the whole context.
We started our trip in Nashville after a red-eye flight from Portland. Talk about jumping right in! We played at our friend Brian Christianson’s fiddle shop, called the Fiddle House . His shop is in the front and the listening room/ gallery of violins is in back. It’s a nice and intimate setting to see a show in for sure, and if you ever need a fiddle, that’s the place to find one in Nashville. After the show we ended up around the corner at the 5 Spot, which was like a mini festival in a bar! Welcome to Nashville! Thanks to Todd Grebe and Angela Oudean from Bearfoot for letting us stay with them. It’s always good to hang out with Alaskan friends, and man, Grebe can write a song!!
From there we were off to Whitesburg, KY and met up with Brett Ratliff who played with us all night on banjo at the Summit City Lounge. Thanks again, Brett, for letting us use that killer banjo for the rest of the trip. The next day we headed up to the Mockingbird in Staunton, VA, then Bristol TN and VA, and then to Knoxville to play on WDVX’s Blueplate Special and later, for a contra dance at the Laurel Theater, with the righteous “Mayor of Knoxville”, Matt Morelock on banjo. Thanks to Leah, Matt, and Hollis! Y’all rock!
It was time to leave TN for a few days and head to NC and spend a couple of days off in Canton, NC with the Stuart Brothers and up to Mt. Airy with Chester and Nick McMillan and Kelley Breiding. They all play in a band together called Backstep. Check out Kelly singing in her band, Kelley and the Cowboys!. Chester brought enough beans, cornbread and chowchow to feed all of Round Peak and we played all night!! The next day we got to play 4 or 5 songs on WPAQ, a dream come true for us. Pretty much all of our music heros have played in that studio and/or over those airwaves. Thanks to Nick and Kelly for setting that up.
Later on that night we played a great outdoor square dance, called by Anna Roberts-Gevalt, in Roanoke, VA that was put on by the public library. They provided BBQ for all, catered by a local BBQ joint and everyone danced until after dark. Then we headed back to Johnson City,TN where we played the Down Home with our old pal Adam Tanner’s band, Twilite Broadcasters. Check ’em out! The next day we spent all day being tourists in downtown Asheville, NC with help from Michael and later tore it up all night at the Jack of the Wood, with special guests the Stuart Brothers on fiddle and banjo and Emolyn Liden clogging away. It was an amazing scene! As you could imagine, we were licking our wounds a bit the next day but headed over to Chattanooga to play the at the Barking Legs Theater. Thanks to Bryan Hamilton the great folks who came out on a Sunday night and hooted and hollered and had some laughs along with us. Next time we’ll have to make it to the music school there called the Folk School of Chattanooga. Then it was off to Nashville….
IBMA IN NASHVILLE
The Foghorn Stringband was chosen to play an official showcase this year at the IBMA World of Bluegrass Week in Nashville, TN. It was the perfect time to introduce our new guitar player and singer, Reeb Wilms, from Bellingham, WA. She has been a friend for years and we are super excited to have her on board with Foghorn. We have some good times ahead! We’ll all be doing a bunch of dates together starting in January. A new recording, perhaps?
We were there at IBMA along with the other bands on Quicksilver Productions‘ roster, including our oldest buddies in Portland, Jackstraw. We’re super proud to be working with Martha and Rob from Quicksilver Productions. Along with our official showcase in the Convention Center, a highlight was the Martin Guitar Showcase at Robert’s Western World right on Broadway in Nashville, sharing the bill with Michael Cleveland and the Del McCoury Band! We were supposed to play for half an hour, but got to play for a full hour thanks to such an enthusiastic response from the audience. Thanks to Larry and George from Martin and to all those rowdy folks in the crowd! The showcase for Quicksilver Productions was a hoot as well. Caleb also works with Quicksilver Productions and got to feature his country stuff with Reeb, Nadine, Sammy, Frank Solivan and Jason Norris from Bearfoot backing him up. Another highlight was a fiddle panel Sammy got to be a part of, hosted by Matt Combs, with other fiddlers, the legendary Buddy Spicher and the powerful April Verch. We had an all around great time at IBMA! Thanks to all who encouraged us and to the new people we met while we were there. Special thanks to super bass player and equally nice guy Mike Bub for hooking Nadine up with a beautiful Kay!
Foghorn Stringband at IBMA
Just A Little
Sud de la Louisiane
BACK HOME AND BACK OUT AGAIN
Sammy, Caleb and Nadine will be off again soon to Austin and Lousiana, playing a bunch of gigs in the following bands: the Foghorn Trio, Caleb Klauder Country Band, Jesse Lege, Joel Savoy and the Cajun Country Revival. Check the schedule and see you soon!
Wow, what a great summer it has been! In July, the trio had a blast at Mission Folk Festival and Floyd Fest with Dirk Powell. Then the stringband tore it up at Sioux River Folk Festival, Sioux Falls’ Latitude 44 and MBOTMA old time camp and festival. The trio then taught at Ashokan Southern Week for the first time and it was fantastic!
We are now gearing up for a Southern tour in TN, KY, VA and NC in mid-September leading up to an official showcase at IBMA.
September 14: Fiddle House, Nashville, TN
September 15: Summit City Lounge, Whitesburg, KY
September 16: Mockingbird, Staunton, VA
September 19: WDVX Blue Plate Special and Square Dance in Knoxville, TN
September 22: Square Dance at Main Library, Roanoke, VA
September 23: Down Home, Johnson City, TN
September 24: Jack of the Wood, Asheville, NC
September 25: Barking Legs Theater, Chattanooga, TN
September 26-29: IBMA
Check out the schedule page for more details. Hope to see you there!
Summer is in full swing and I hope you’re having a great one full of good times and tons of music! For us, summer has always been about about getting away from the city and camping out, spending time with buddies and playing tunes! What else ya gonna do?
We’re all up in Port Townsend, Washington at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, an amazing week full of performances, instruction, and dancing of all kinds of traditions, not only American. We’ve been coming up here since 2003 and keep coming back. Fiddle Tunes is a week to not only expand your own musicality but also your knowledge of other musical traditions and the ingredients that make good music. It has very little to do with what kind of strings you use or the thickness of your pick… It’s an amazing week that fills your year with stories and inspiration! See you here next summer!
Last week, Caleb organized a benefit show to help our favorite Portland bar that has a dance floor, the Spare Room, improve their sound system. Wow, what a night!! Five local bands tore it up, bringing in friends and fans, Nadine and I made gumbo for everybody, and damn, was there dancing!! It’s so great to see so many folks coming out and shakin’ it on the dance floor and supporting a cool bar and venue. The bands were the Pickups, the Mighty Ghosts, the Pete Krebs Band, the Portland Country Underground, and of course, the Caleb Klauder Country Band! Next time Foghorn plays there we’re going get at least four squares raging on that dance floor…
The Foghorn Trio (along with Caleb’s son Elijah) kicked off the summer by teaching a camp in Grass Valley, California that was put on by the California Bluegrass Association. It’s a camp that happens the week leading up to their festival that happens there over Father’s Day weekend. Besides meeting all the nice students and enjoying amazing meal after meal, highlights were Caleb and Mike Compton tearing it up on double mandolins, playing fiddles and hanging with Matt Combs and hearing Alice Gerrard and Nadine singing and playing together. Wow!
From California we headed to the Martin Hotel in Winnemucca, Nevada to play a show put on by an organization called the Great Basin Arts and Entertainment. The Reverend P.T. Grover Jr. even made the treck on his motorcycle all the way from Portland to hang out! We’ve been playing there about once a year since 2002 and always look forward to it. Thanks to Bill and everyone else there for always having us back and supporting our music. The food is amazing, traditional Basque food served family style followed by their famous cocktail, the “Picon”. But, as we’ve warned you in the past, remember, “one, two, three, FLOOR!!”
From there we headed North to Weiser, Idaho for the the National Old Time Fiddler’s Contest. We go every year and camp out in Stickerville and play non-stop for about a week. Sound fun? My good buddy growing up, Andy Rick came down from Bellingham, P.T. continued on up and Brian “Snakes” Bagdonas came out from Portland too. We got to camp with Laurel Bliss, Reeb Wilms and the rest of the Bellingham crew and had a blast. You never knew what you were gonna hear or play!! I had a blast playing a bunch too with Riley from Seattle and Elijah, Caleb’s son. Those guys rock!
Coming up this month we’ll be playing at the first annual Farmer Social, put on by Reeb Wilms of Bellingham, Washington. It will be July 15-17 in her hometown of Farmer, Washington. We’re all so pumped for this this! Reeb will also be playing guitar with Foghorn for two festivals in August, the Sioux River Folk Festival in Canton, South Dakota and The MBOTMA Festival in Richmond, Minnesota. The last two weekends of July the Foghorn Trio will be playing with our buddy Dirk Powell as the “Dirk Powell Band” at the Mission Folk Festival in Mission, British Columbia and at the Floyd Festival in Floyd, Virginia.
We hope to cross paths with you and share a tune sometime soon!!