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!