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Review: The Foghorn Trio, Sud de la Louisiane

The Foghorn Trio
Sud de la Louisiane
[Quick Silver Productions (2011)]

While Portland’s Foghorn String Band (FSB) has disappeared into the mist—at least for now—the good news is there’s a related incarnation with FSB mainstays Caleb Klauder (mandolin, fiddle, guitar) and Sammy Lind (fiddle, guitar, banjo). Nadine Landry, formerly of Quebec, rounds out the trio on guitar and acoustic bass. Though they’re a string band, they’re not a string band in the strictest definition. The disc’s centerpiece, surprisingly enough, is a Cajun song—Alex Broussard’s late 1950s hit “Sud de La Louisiane” (South to Louisiana)—cast here as a whirlwind of fiddles and mandolins (read: no accordion). Landry’s delightfully shrill pipes seal the feeling of a French Appalachia. It’s so well done that it leaves one clamoring for more but regardless, it all fits: a string band with a native French speaker recording in a rural Southwest studio with Cajun fiddler Joel Savoy at the helm.

But it’s not the only killer track. Two Carter Family songs, “Hello Central” and “Let’s Be Lovers Again” contrast nicely with each other with the former’s Mother Maybelle style of flat-picking, and the latter’s dronish, dark harmonies. With selections from old-time icon Benton Flippen (“Go Home”), country’s Kitty Wells (“I Don’t Claim to Be An Angel”) and several old-time instrumental dance tunes from past and contemporary practitioners, there are no disappointments here. Klauder makes his presence felt on two originals: “Just a Little” delivered in his haunting, dry voice, and “Puttin’ Up The Wood,” a driving, white knuckled mandolin instrumental. Whether you’re north, west, east, or even south of Louisiana, what’s not to like?

—Dan Willging

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