The Foghorns
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The Foghorns

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Folk


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The best kept secret in music


In the middle of some frozen nowhere, a man is warming up his poor raggedy ass in a cabin, sipping whiskey and dreaming of home. He'd probably feel a lot better if he could hear The Foghorns, a band that recorded much of its album New Low after a wearying trip from its Reykjavik base to Brooklyn. Wisconsin native Bart Cameron and his Icelandic pals play bluesy, folky tunes that make reliable companions in the middle of this shitball winter. It's the kind of music that tired people play best, and these folks were indeed pretty worn out by the time they started their set Thursday night at Cafe Zoma, a cozy coffee shop/venue here in Madison. Australian violinist Marisa Allen, who has a project called Bremen Town Musician, brings yet another welcome layer of melody and warmth to the band's current U.S. tour.

Bart's got plenty of stories about his move overseas, and told some in an interview for our local edition of The A.V. Club. However, the song "Golden Ghosts" (MP3) tells it much better. That version is from Olympus, a free recording of the band's going-away show in Reykjavik last year.
- World's Biggest Corporation

Reykjavik Rock Hangover

Arts & Entertainment
The Foghorns to blow sounds of ironic folk rock at the Reptile Palace
by Megan Sheridan, of the Advance Titan
Issue: Thursday, February 08, 2007
Added: 2/7/2007 11:16:55 PM

The Foghorns are smart, talented and hard working, but they do not in any way take themselves too seriously.

“People try to take us seriously, and it gets depressing quick,” said Bart Cameron of The Foghorns. “I know serious. I’m a friggin Fulbright Scholar. Serious is a waste of time and, most importantly, a waste of good music.”

“Just ‘cause you’re serious doesn’t mean you’re good,” said Marissa Allen, violinist for The Foghorns.

The Foghorns formed in 2002 with Cameron and brothers Steven and Kevin Firchow, and has had a rotating lineup ever since. Cameron and Steven Firchow began recording Foghorn music in Wisconsin and, according to their bio, Kevin Firchow joined once he found out they were using his drum set.

“The Foghorns was the name of my recording projects that I did with Racine, Wisconsin friends. I always asked musician friends wherever I lived to help,” Cameron said.

In 2003, Cameron moved to Iceland and began working for the Reykjavík Grapevine, an English language newspaper that provides information for visitors.

“I was in Iceland playing Foghorns music, and I toured with a band called Touch that just started jumping on stage. And it suddenly made a lot more sense,” Cameron said. “With Boddi and Kopur, I realized we actually had a band, and then we asked Marisa to join in, and we were stunned that this worked.”

The Foghorns currently consist of Cameron on guitar, vocals and harmonica; Boduar “Boddi” Reynisson on bass and vocals; Kristjan “Kopur” Petursson on drums; and Allen on violin. The Foghorns consider Iceland to be their home base although Cameron now lives in Seattle and Allen resides in Australia.

“Iceland is our home, as a band. Reykjavik and especially Isafjordur in Northern Iceland have been incredible to us,” Cameron said.

Since 2002, The Foghorns have released four albums on indie label Beefy Beef Records.

“We made a Foghorns record and we thought we’d give it out, but we went through 300 copies in a couple weeks and realized we could sell them. I really hate selling things, and, at the time, I was teaching English and selling short stories and it just seemed like a bad idea to get distracted, so these friends from Wisconsin offered to help,” Cameron said of Beefy Beef Records.

The Foghorns recently released “New Low” which was listed in the top 30 Icelandic albums of 2006 by the Reykjavik Grapevine. Their music is a combination of folk, blues and rock and is described by them on MySpace as “A Wisconsin pool hall. Or a Sunday morning Reykjavík hangover just after your first piece of bacon.”

Playing live shows is one of the things that The Foghorns both enjoy and pride themselves upon. At times, their live shows have consisted of a full band, a single person or two people with a guitar and a bucket.

“We once toured Iceland on a bucket and acoustic guitar, and it worked because we refused to stop practicing and playing until it was something worth seeing,” Cameron said.

They admit, however, that playing in the United States is far easier than Iceland because of the language barrier.

“Brooklyn and Madison, Wisconsin are great, and as a songwriter, it’s a little easier performing for people who understand English easily—I didn’t realize the songs were funny until I played in Madison and they wouldn’t stop laughing and let me play the second verse of ‘So Sober,’” Cameron said.

Shows in Iceland end up with a little different response from the crowd.

“In Iceland, people don’t start laughing until half an hour after the show is over,” Reynisson said.

Regardless of what they play, or where, The Foghorns promise a good show.

“You should expect to see a band playing their guts out. We’ll do it with anything we have, everything we have,” Cameron said.

The Foghorns will play at The Reptile Palace Friday Feb. 9 at 10 p.m. with Machine Gun Joe. The show in Oshkosh was booked not by chance because Cameron enjoyed the venue and some of the bands that played there.

“I was in the Midwest interviewing Garrison Keillor, and I went to The Reptile Palace and saw Machine Gun Joe, and I thought it was the goofiest, most beautiful, most Wisconsin thing I’d ever seen. I knew if I ever had a chance, I’d go to that bar, and play with that band. This Oshkosh gig is the reward of the tour, it’s our chance to really have fun and enjoy ourselves,” Cameron said.

The band urges UW-Oshkosh students to come out and see the show because not only are they talented musicians, they’re good looking.

“We’re beautiful,” Reynisson said.

“It’s true. He’s Icelandic and beautiful. I’m from Wisconsin, so you can see me cause I write songs that will get you through winter,” Cameron said. “This album we’re touring on, it’s about life in a pretty difficult place, and I think it reminds you of how beautiful and sad the struggle is.”

“Bart, you won’t make it on your music. It’s gonna be your looks,” Reynisson replied. - Oshkosh Advance Titan

The Foghorns have been pretty active in the music scene the past couple of years, playing numerous shows but never drawing a big crowd. The brainchild of former Grapevine editor, Bart Cameron, this release was partly recorded live in Reykjavík and partly in some (I imagine) seedy locations in Brooklyn and Wisconsin. The sound is rough and lo-fi but perfectly fitting the Bruce Springsteen folk-punk rock (think Nebraska, not Born To Run). Lyrically it’s an album of sorrow, sadness and longing – the bitterness shines through. It sounds honest and raw with a feeling of intensity; as if the band has a point to make and really, really wants the listener to get it; as if they care about their work, getting the music out just to get it out and not because they think it will make them lots of money. It won’t. So throw all the money you can spare at them because this is a fucking great CD. - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Kristian Knutsen

By the time The Foghorns reached the Madison stop on their U.S. tour, they were admittedly fairly tired, having traveled to the Midwest from Iceland. This didn't prevent the country-folk-rock band from playing a warm and spirited show at Café Zoma on Thursday, Feb. 8. It was a welcome homecoming for Bart Cameron, the band's singer, who grew up in Wisconsin and graduated from the UW-Madison.

The live concert video follows below.

The song performed in the video clip, "So Sober," can be found in another live version on The Foghorns' 2006 release New Low. The album's liner notes provide a brief history of the group:

Bart played the Foghorns in the New York bluegrass community from 2002-2003. Then came the Iceland bucket experiment. The success of the bucket experiment, and the limited release album, So Sober, led to the new Foghorns four-piece band. That band recorded a double album throughout the United States and Iceland, and released it in October 2006 in Iceland after a series of performances at the Iceland Airwaves festival.

There are also video clips for two other songs performed by The Foghorns in town. One features the group playing "Lullaby," and the other focuses on the end of the concert when they perform "Wake Up."

Both The Foghorns and observers deemed this Madison tour stop a success. "Madison and Café Zoma and the many people who came out and bought our CDs and every shirt and sweatshirt we had," the band proclaimed, "Madison you have completely saved us." Scott Gordon, the city editor for the Madison edition of The Onion, agreed with this assessment.
More information about the band can be found in an article published by the UW-Oshkosh Advance-Titan, and in a profile provided by the Iceland Airwaves festival. More of the music is available for listening on the band's MySpace page.

If you're traveling to Iceland, one good place to see if The Foghorns are playing is The Reykjavik Grapevine, an English-language alternative-format magazine published 18 times a year. Cameron edited the publication before turning more of his attention to music.

If you have a video by, of or about Madison and Madisonians, please consider adding it to the Isthmus YouTube group or send a message.
- The Isthmus


LPs: Olympus (2007), New Low ver 2 (2007), New Low (2006), So Sober (2004), Gone Upstairs (2003), Beef for Everyone (2002)
Played on radio: Golden Ghosts, single, 2007, WORT Madison, KMSU Mankato; Sunken Treasure, cover of Wilco song, KMSU Mankato.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Okay, what we've got going for us is intelligence, honesty and originality-- with this, and with brutal touring, we built a following first in Iceland, playing constantly for two years in some of the more remote areas of Iceland, and then in the US, driving cross country. We play one festival regularly, Iceland Airwaves. But now that we've moved to Seattle, we're interested in playing the local festival. Sonicbids is against everything we stand for, and we are signing up for it only for Bumbershoot and for a festival in Wisconsin Bart grew up going to, Summerfest.