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Published: 2003/01/09
by Deb Weisman

Foghorn Stringband, Moon and Sixpence, Portland, OR- 1/5

There is something great about five guys sitting around hunched over a mike on a rainy night, cradling their strings and playing acoustic. The Foghorn Stringband does just that, every Sunday night, at the Moon and Sixpence, a somewhat dark but friendly British pub in Portland, Oregon.

Once known as Foghorn Leghorn, yes, named after the little varmint cartoon guy, fans have had a hard time adjusting to the name change. However, what they deliver is what’s important, and keeps people coming back for more.

The ensemble is made up of the usual suspects in a traditional bluegrass band. Taylor Grover plays the banjo, Kevin Sandri on guitar, Caleb Klauder with the mandolin, Brian Bagdonas mans a big old stand up bass, and Stephen, aka "Sammy" Lind, is the distinct fiddle player. Let me be the first to tell you though, this is not traditional bluegrass! It’s hard to put a finger on it-the melodies of this band have been described as "mountain tunes" somewhat Appalachian, giddy-up, fast, rambling, feel good, kick up yer feet square dancing kind of bluegrass. How was that? Old time, good time tunes is what you get.

The songs never seem to end, creating a flow of happy, upbeat and harmonious sound that one could listen to all day. Vocals are present throughout, though many tunes are strictly instrumental, and word has it these southern style tunes have been passed from generation to generation and have been around a lot longer than some of the music genres floating around today. It’s the kind of music that makes you look around the room and smile.

They just released the CD, Rattlesnake Tidalwave which includes songs like Let me Fall, Huckleberry Blues, Lacey Brown, Jaybird in the Ashbrook, and Lost Indian, to name a few- there are many, many tunes to this repertoire. Songs are short and very sweet. This reviewer, being of the sappy sort, would call the tunes romantic and far away.
If you sit and listen, you are almost taken away to those hills and can conjure up what it might be like to create music of this sort. It’s my belief these guys are committed to creating this atmosphere and their energy and dedication is to be commended. Pickin and a grinnin, these boys play and play, catering to the crowd and having a great time while doing it.

In addition to their local gigs, appearances at festivals and gatherings, Foghorn Stringband will be running around the Northwest, sharing various stages and showing how their fingers create all that magic at a fiddle and mandolin workshop in Eugene. They also will be going "on the road", showing up in Nevada and making a mark at the San Francisco Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival. Go get lost in their music, but remember, where they are from, we like them here in good old green Oregon. It's nice to listen to some tunes with a history, especially while sitting around drinking a Black and Tan or a heady Guinness Stout. What else would you be doing on a rainy Sunday night?

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