[OLD-TIME PARTY MUSIC] It's been well over a decade since mandolinist Caleb Klauder and fiddle player Sammy Lind first met with friends at the Northeast Portland pub the Moon and Sixpence to kick-start a Sunday-evening residency of hell-for-leather old-time music. No matter what changes have overtaken the troupe, nor how far afield its tours may veer, the Foghorn Stringband still cherishes its home base.
"You come back, you play for six hours just for the hell of it," Klauder says. "I feel like that gig is our lifeblood."
Outshine the Sun, the seventh album to be recorded under the Foghorn imprimatur—self-released, like all of its releases, save a mid-aughts dalliance with Nettwerk 'midst the label's Avril Lavigne/Sarah McLachlan heyday—reclaims the Stringband title following outings as Duo and Trio. During the past few years' constant touring, Klauder and Lind chanced upon Quebecois bassist Nadine Landry and Bellingham, Wash., guitarist Reeb Willms as perfectly appointed means to flesh out the group's sound and sweeten the harmonies. "What we do hasn't changed, it's just expanded," Klauder says, "and we have some new songs in the repertoire."
While the majority of Outshine the Sun comprises authentic old-time numbers, there are relatively eclectic selections—a Cajun waltz here, a cover of '70s bluegrass pioneer Hazel Dickens there—that would once have been anathema to the formerly orthodox traditionalists.
"It was a cool thing," Klauder says. "We had a kind of niche, and it gave us a super-strong identity as this hardcore old-time band. Some people in the band were really adamant about the traditional stuff, but we kind of felt cornered after a while.â
From the beginning, the Stringband has been a live favorite around the country and, indeed, the world: In 2005, the group performed at the Rainforest World Music Festival in Malaysia, pickin' to thousands in the jungles of Borneo. Later this year, the troupe joins festivals in Canada, Louisiana and Scotland before a slight hiatus when Klauder and Willms tour Germany and Denmark and Lind and Landry head off to Australia.
"We like the fast ones," Klauder says of the band's live sets. "I think we're the only old-time band that plays like a bluegrass band: more exciting, more to the audience."
SEE IT: The Foghorn Stringband plays Velo Cult Bike Shop, 1969 NE 42nd Ave., on Thursday, Sept. 27. 8 pm. $10. All ages.