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!