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Friday, September 19, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 59.0° F  Partly Cloudy with Haze
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Foghorn Trio breathes Portland cool into old bayou tunes
West by southeast

The Foghorn Trio may be three-fifths of old-time music group Foghorn Stringband, but it seems to have three times the energy. Trading instruments and harmonies with ease and speed, these Portland, Ore., firebrands perform raging Cajun melodies and rip-roaring fiddle music from days of yore.

I spoke with fiddler Stephen "Sammy" Lind and bassist Nadine Landry about the band's retro repertoire and its new, bayou-flavored album Sud de la Louisiane.

Where did the band's name come from?

Lind: We were originally called the Foghorn Leghorns, like the big rooster with the Southern drawl from Looney Tunes. It was a take on us playing Southern old-time music without being from the South. Then we wanted to make a CD, but we realized we probably couldn't keep that name, so we became Foghorn Stringband and Foghorn Trio.

Are most of your songs "found" tunes - that is, old-time songs you've revived?

Lind: Nadine does a lot of Cajun songs, and the new CD has two songs that [mandolinist] Caleb [Klauder] wrote, but we mostly play fiddle tunes from really old sources. There are lots of old, archived fiddle recordings that get passed around, and people are digitizing old LPs and passing those around, too. These are good places to go for ideas.

Tell me a bit about the process of making Sud de la Louisiane.

Landry: It was just us three in a room with one microphone. We plowed through 14 songs in a few hours and it was done. That's how they recorded a long time ago, and for us, there's a real connection to each song as a whole when we do it that way.

Why did you record it in Louisiana?

Landry: I'm French Canadian, and last year I got a grant from the Canadian government to study Cajun music in the U.S. We have some really good friends in Louisiana, so we started going there a bunch, to Cajun country. We were playing Blackpot Fest in Lafayette, then stayed nearby and recorded a CD. The photo on the cover is of the shack where we recorded, and I think it's cool that its title is French. That's pretty cute.

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