The Foghorn Stringband

Weiser Sunrise

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Although the Foghorn Stringband released two albums before Weiser Sunrise, this 2005 CD is the band's first release on Nettwerk, signaling a new beginning and a broader audience for the group. Weiser Sunrise shows the band -- fiddler Stephen Lind, mandolinist Caleb Klauder, banjoist P.T. Grover, Jr., guitarist Kevin Sandri, and bassist Brian Bagdonas -- ready for prime time. Consisting of a number of instrumentals and vocal numbers, the album falls very much within the string band tradition that established itself during the 1920s and 1930s. Various revivals have kept the form alive while changing very little about it. As with other string bands, the Foghorn Stringband borrows old folk material like "Stagger Lee," "Be Nobody's Darling But Mine, Love," and "Golden Slippers." Keeping within the conservative spirit of string band music, the bandmembers recorded the album "live," meaning they sat around in the circle, just like in the days of old, and recorded as they played. The half-inch tape has done a fine job capturing the energy of these sessions, and listening to Weiser Sunrise isn't unlike listening to an acoustic band at one's local coffeehouse. What helps the Foghorn Stringband stand out in a genre that really doesn't encourage standing out is their carefree approach. This shows through best with the band's vocals on songs like "Short Life of Trouble" and "All Night Long," which have a spontaneous thrown-together quality (though never as loose and thrown-together as, say, the Holy Modal Rounders). This is a roundabout way of saying that Weiser Sunrise is a fun recording, and a fine introduction to the Foghorn Stringband.

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