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Published: 2003/07/28
by Tina Campbell

Strangefolk’s Post-Eden Hiatus: Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring?

For weeks rumors had been circulating that
Strangefolk was getting ready to throw in the towel.
There had been no communications from the band
indicating that they were giving any thought to
calling it quits, and yet the rumors persisted,
increasing in details and claims of having heard it
"from a reliable source." The fans waited for some
sort of announcement to validate all the upsetting
stories they’d heard.
Earlier this month, a good amount of us caught
our breath when we tuned in to and
found an item in the "News" section entitled "Message
from the Band".
After years of watching these talented, passionate
and dedicated musicians ride the music industry roller
coaster, most fans knew that heading usually meant
serious news…it could be good, like when they
announced they had just signed a deal with Mammoth
Records. Or it could be bad, like when Disney
(Mammoth’s parent company) cleaned house and dumped
the band and their new album along with the entire
record company. Whatever it was, we immediately knew
this message deserved our undivided attention. Scores
of tense fingers clicked on the foreboding link with a
sense of trepidation that the rumors they’d been
hearing were about to be confirmed.
Much to our surprise what we found therein was a
surprisingly positive, upbeat message. Paragraphs 1,
2 and 4 talked about the upcoming tour, how excited
they were about their new double-CD live album,
(arguably their best effort since "Lore", IMHO), and
of course, their 8th Annual Garden of Eden festival
coming up on Labor Day weekend. Paragraph 3,
however, was the kicker: "...we would like to officially announce that
following Eden, Strangefolk will take an undetermined
amount time off from performing live. We will spend
this time pursuing other musical and personal goals
but as of now we have no plans to perform as
Strangefolk after Labor Day Weekend 2003. However, you
will likely be able to catch us performing in other
projects, so make sure to visit…"
A million questions began flying through emails
and message boards: is "hiatus" a nice way of saying
that they are breaking up? Do they plan on returning
to Strangefolk after exploring those other interests?
Will these side projects be with Strangefolk band
mates or new players? How long will the hiatus last,
months, years? Is it because of money? Is it because
of family issues? WHAT’S HAPPENING TO OUR BAND?
Finally a few words of comfort came in a new message
from co-founding band member and lead guitarist, Jon
Trafton. That quieted the questions, but it didn’t really satiate
the need for answers. Rather than waste my time in speculating what the
future holds, I’m taking the passive route — I’m
waiting to see, it’s the only thing any of us can do.
I believe Jon when he said that this is not the end,
and hopefully everyone can be happy with that
reassurance until the details surrounding exactly what
that means become clearer.
One thing is for certain though, this year’s
Garden of Eden Festival is going to be one hell of a
party!!! Ever since the announcement, I’ve been to 7
shows on their summer tour and have run into no less
than 27 people whom I hadn’t seen in the past 3 years. It’s like all those who disappeared are beginning to
come back around to pay homage to whatever difference
being involved with this band has made in their lives. I have no doubt that Eden will be chock full of old
familiar faces and it’s going to be great to see
everyone together again. This family reunion has been
a long time coming, it’s just sad that it had to come
because of the band taking a break. For those of you
unfamiliar with Strangefolk lore, allow me to explain
a little about what I mean by "everyone together
I first discovered Strangefolk as a wide-eyed
college student in the Fall of 1996. From that point
on, I watched them rise from a relatively unknown bar
band to a jamband giant in just 4 short years. They
were headlining Gathering of the Vibes Festivals
(before they started bringing in the likes of Phil &
Friends and James Brown), they were sharing headline
billing with moe. and String Cheese Incident on the
Hoodoo Bash tour and were drawing thousands of
nationwide fans to their Garden of Eden Festivals
every year. This was the band on the verge of a huge
breakthrough in their career, there was no denying
it… and then the record deal fiasco reared it’s ugly
head. The band’s new album "A Great Long While" was
stalled in a sea of red tape in the wake of Mammoth’s
demise. After almost a year of spotty touring and
more stress than I care to imagine, another huge blow
rocked the Strangefolk community: Reid Genauer
announced his plans to leave the band after Eden 2000.

Following his departure, the fanbase split into what seemed like 4 distinct sections: 1.) those who continued to follow the remaining 3 members of the band (and the 2 new players they brought in) and didn’t particularly care for Reid’s revamped versions of old classics, 2.) those who were turned off by Strangefolk’s edgier new sound and gravitated towards Reid’s Assembly of Dust shows, 3.) those who were psyched to have two different bands to follow now, and 4.) those for whom the original Strangefolk was their only love — many fans dropped both Reid and the new incarnation of Strangefolk completely because they no longer felt the magic at either band’s shows. Suffice it to say that Strangefolk fans have been through a lot. The longer they’ve been on board, the steeper and more varied the roller coaster pitches they’ve seen… and thankfully, the less intimidating those jarring turns and quick drop-offs become as the years roll on. Was I surprised to read about the hiatus? Yes, of course. Was I upset? No, not at all. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching this band’s career progress over the past 7 years, it’s that change is inevitable. Whether it’s good or bad lies within the eye of the beholder. My view on this upcoming hiatus is pretty simple: I think it’s going to be a catalyst for change; a chrysalis state, if you will. What emerges will either be a stronger, well-rested and ready-to-take-on-the-world Strangefolk, or one or more brand new groups. Either way, it’s an exciting time and judging by the high-energy, intense shows I’ve been to over the past 2 weeks, Eden will be no exception! Since the announcement about the hiatus has been on the web site, there have been new rumors circulating about what kind of surprises they’re planning for for the big weekend. Thankfully these little floaters are lending a tangible buzz of anticipation and excitement that I haven’t seen in a long time, and that’s a welcome change after the hiatus news! So, what’s going to happen once the hiatus goes into effect? Well, I know that bassist Erik Glockler is going on a 2 week tour with Al & The Transamericans, but unfortunately, that’s the only concrete information I’ve run across. Speculatively speaking, since guitarist/vocalist Patchen Montgomery has been playing acoustic gigs around the northeast whenever Strangefolk isn’t on tour, I’m willing to bet we’ll be seeing some dates up on both, as well as on his own site, Outside of that, I have no idea what Jon Trafton, Don Scott and Luke Smith will be doing, but you can bet your ass that I’ll be checking the web site in the days after Eden to look for updates.

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