Foghorn Stringband: Finding a home in everyone

by Caitlin Cohen

The first time you watch Foghorn Stringband perform is intoxicatingly magical. You can’t help but tap your feet along to each pluck of the upright bass. The cry of the fiddle pairs well with Caleb Klauder’s vocals and makes him sound like he’s smiling as he sings.

The band has every reason to smile when they consistently surround themselves with a sense of community. No matter where they perform, they get the most out of connecting and meeting the people witnessing the magic of their sound with their own eyes (and also their ears).

Nadine Landry (vocals, upright bass) became hooked after her first Foghorn show. “There were five guys sitting around the one microphone and made this insane sound coming out like a machine. I just remember, that night at the Alaskan Hotel, everybody was dancing. People were hanging from rafters and it was complete mayhem. It was so beautiful, so I became a huge fan of Foghorn right then,” said Landry, who joined the band five years later.

Even though the band started within the good ol’ Pacific North West, they are not ones to stay put. Foghorn will be touring all over the PNW, the East Coast, and as far as Ireland. They may be touring distant from where they live but they always they find a feeling at home in their travels.

“We go to places we’ve already been or we go to places that we perform for the first time but we have contacts or friends that live there. That’s always a great feeling of home—to have a home cooked meal, a good bed, and really, having a community with friends all over the world,  Landry said. “We have a lot of incredible ties with families in Ireland and France that we see a few times a year or sometimes they visit us. Sometimes we’ll get messages and emails from people from places we’ve never been that say ‘we love you guys! You should come visit,’ and we do. When we arrive, it’s like we’re already friends because we love the same music and we play it…Old-time music is like a lifestyle—it’s very community oriented with good food and dancing.”

Not only do they find a feeling of home within the friendships they’ve made around the globe but also within each other.

“Sammy (Stephen ‘Sammy’ Lind (vocals, fiddle, banjo)) and I being a couple, we feel at home every night we’re together. We don’t feel like there’s someone waiting at home,” said Landry. “That way, we can stay a little bit longer when we’re on tour. We’ll be in Europe and say ‘oh, let’s just stay an extra week. We’re already here.’ Just the fact that we’re together; that feels like home.”

Foghorn adores those connections they make with other fans of Old-Time music and love playing music with them even more. The Bellingham Folk Festival is the perfect opportunity for them to collaborate with fellow musicians or beginners through hosting workshops and an old time jam.

“We’ll probably start a little slower first to get everyone to learn the melody and the chorus. Then we’ll sped it up and playing all together in this strength and number where nobody will turn beat red having to do a solo. We’re going to be in this together,” said Landry.

What Landry is really looking forward to at the Bellingham Folk Festival is hosting a harmonizing workshop with Reeb Willms (vocal, guitar).

“It’s special and emotional because when you sing, you don’t have an instrument to hide behind. It’s really yourself; you’re really putting yourself out there. It’s a great feeling,” said Landry.

See Foghorn Stringband at the Bellingham Folk Festival on Dec. 11, with old time jam starting at 1 p.m. They will also perform at the Green Frog at 8 p.m. For more about the band, see foghornstringband.com.

Published in the December 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine