Caleb Klauder Just Wants To Play Music

October 19, 2011 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  19 Comments

Sometimes the best musicians, and the best people you will ever meet in music, are not the ones that stand at stage center, but the ones who spend the majority of the time standing to the right or left, or in back behind the drums. With a selfless attitude, a willingness to do whatever it takes to make good music great, and many times a quiet patience with their own music, these musicians can be a treasure trove of songs and wisdom that is just waiting to be discovered.

The James Hunnicutt’s and Amanda Shires’s of the world could never receive enough credit in my book, for their accompanying work and their solo endeavors, and neither could Portland, OR’s Caleb Klauder. As a founding member of The Foghorn Stringband, and common collaborator with too many other artists and projects to list, many times Caleb Klauder’s “Country Band” plays second fiddle for this fiddle, mandolin, and guitar player, and singer/ songwriter. But as his critically-acclaimed 2010 release Western Country proved (read SCM review), Caleb’s name deserves equal billing beside the other top shelf independent roots artists from across the country.

And though you may have not heard of Caleb until recently, or until just right now, the 40-year-old with flecks of gray hair sticking out from under his trucker hat has been touring and making music for 20 years now. It just has not always been music that bears his name. The first time I saw Caleb was in 2003, when the only other outlets for resurgent traditional country were folks like Wayne Hancock, BR549, and Hank Williams III. I would see him again in 2009, picking mandolin for Justin Townes Earle. When he showed up in Austin last week, he was squeezing a solo show out before playing appearances with The Foghorn Trio and and The Cajun Country Revival.

I just think I’m one of those people that goes in many different directions. I have a hard time forcing things. It’s nice to go with the flow a lot of times. It’s funny that’s always led me to interesting things I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I’ve always felt the best collaborating. But sometimes it is nice to step aside and say, “I gonna do this right now. This is the thing I want to do, and it’s gonna go like this.” It’s nice to have that outlet, where I can have that vision, and try it, and have it come out the way you want it. At the same time, I don’t need to do that every day, all day long.

Though Caleb can play just about anything that involves strings and wood, (“I can pick and play all day and love it”, Caleb says) his real passion is singing.

I kinda like being flexible, but I guess if I really had to dig down to it, I’m probably just a singer. I just love singing. When you really get going singing, it feels so good, it’s like therapy.

Musicians like Caleb Klauder will never spend enough time promoting themselves. They’re too much about the music, and the community that music builds. “I think I’m just a sucker for making good music and good friends, and the scene that goes around that.” Caleb says. And so it is up to us, the fans and the writers and podcasters to help spread the word, so that Caleb Klauder’s music can find a wider audience. Think of it as a music version of affirmative action, where certain artists are given extra support to compensate for their sometimes selfless approach in a medium dominated by egos.

Photos from C. C. Ekstrom of almostoutofgas.com, from a show at The Waterloo Ice House in Austin, TX 8/13/11

19 Comments to “Caleb Klauder Just Wants To Play Music”

  • I absolutely love “Western Country” and think he is a superb musician. I’ve never been able to see him live but hopefully someday. Usually these people who aren’t in the spotlight are the best and they just do their thing. Gotta respect and appreciate that.

  • I keep wondering why he doesn’t get more recognition. In addition to
    “Western Country”, his previous album “Dangerous Mes and Poisonous Yous” is so damn good all the way through. Interesting that he’s 40, I would have pinned him as younger.

  • Great article. I’ll have to check him out…

  • When you wrote his album review over Western Country, I bought his album. When people ask me about what kind of music I listen to, I plug his name in every time. It’s 100% pure solid country. Did you perhaps here of any new material coming from him soon?

  • This stands out for my personal taste above others like Dale Watson also making new, real country music. Not sure if it’s the song arrangements, vocal harmonies, strong fiddle, steel and mando, or what…but I love it. Any recommendations on others with a sound like Caleb Klauder’s?

    • Nobody does, that’s the thing. That’s why he’s so good. To compare him, you have to name other people that nobody sounds like, people like Wayne Hancock. But if you want to hear more Caleb, check out The Foghorn Stringband and Cajun Country Revival that I linked to above.

  • Well now! That sure puts a smile on my face. I just want Caleb Klauder to keep playin’ music.

    ‘ Now you’re leavin’/ and my heart is grievin’/ cie la vie/ fare thee well ‘ . . . . WOW! that would be some songwritin’.
    That song is as smooth as butter.

    Great blog Triggerman.

  • Great article Triggerman! I’ve been a fan of Caleb’s since 1997, when he was one of the singers in the northwest folk-rock group Calobo. He very quickly became my favorite voice and songwriter of the group, so I followed his solo career closely after they disbanded in 2000. His first record, “Sings Out” is one of my desert island albums. It’s not as straight country as the last two, but it’s just as good. And “Dangerous Me’s” and “Western Country” are simply fantastic. As is the live show, both from the country band and Foghorn String Band. Add on top of all of that that Caleb is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, and you can’t lose! I would LOVE to see the Caleb Klauder country band at Muddy Roots next year. If you are a fan of real traditional sounding country music, do yourself a favor and give this guy a listen!

  • I am ashamed to say I have never seen Klauder play live even though I live in the northwest. Hopefully that’ll change before long… Can’t get enough of the Western Country album! Gonna have to check out “Sings Out” with Aran singing it’s praises so much.

  • It’s raining here in the mountains of PA, outside and inside my house, and this just made my day. Thank you for introducing me to Caleb Klauder.

    You can tell immediately that he plays country music because he loves it. Pure and honest. No need for goofy dust-bowl costumes (which is fine for some folks) or silly stage names (like, er, rusty beltway, for example).

    This is exactly why I read savingcountrymusic.com

    Thanks again.

    Nice job by the band, and also by the radio station w/ the sound and vid.

    • just curious, where at in the mountains of PA? that’s where i belong too and there’s not many people interested in REAL music here

      • Where are both of you guys at? Shippensburg for me.

        • Penns Woods & Beej:

          I’m in the center of the triangle formed by Harrisburg, Allentown, and Scranton. They’re all about an hour’s drive away.

          I missed the Lorretta Lynn show at Penns Peak in Jim Thorpe, which is pretty close. Listen to WQSU (Selinsgrove U) on Saturday mornings, which had a good country line-up. But the evening DJ moved and football season has shortened the afternoon programming. Harrisburg to Williamsport has a pretty lively scene, it seems.

          I’m a songwriter w/ one ASCAP credit to my (real) name. Gonna start doing some shows this winter, debating whether to use the Rusty Beltway moniker or use my Christian name, which rhymes w/ Dan Tyminski (that’s Allison Krause’s guitar guy)

          If you want to get in touch, try casimir25 at lycos dot com and I’ll keep you posted. My career goal is to get a negative review from Triggerman for my derivative honky tonk bullshit. Then I’ll just hunt him down and make him drink a bottle of Heaven Hill with me until he hugs me and tells me I’m awesome. Heh.

          • hey guys…i love heaven hill and im just south of you in lancaster. maybe we should have a gathering at some point.

        • i’m right in the center of the state. state college has a pretty good local music scene but rarely sees outside country acts (other than your great poop country stars.) radio here is close to worthless, even the university’s station. hank3 is playing allentown around thanksgiving and i might try to make it down

  • Man, you find some real jewels! I love western swing and Caleb brings real authenticity to it. Your article motivated me to go to Caleb’s web site and buy the cd. If we all put our little bit of financial support behind artists like this, we keep them playing and take a little power away from commercial radio and the Nashville mafia. Thanks, Trigger, great find!

  • This is the reason I come to this site, to learn about artists that may not get the credit elsewhere. I say stop giving the Yellawolf’s of the world space on this site and focus on great talents that everyone might not know. Keep up the positive stuff! Thanks for the introduction to a great talent as well.

  • When I read the SCM review of Caleb and then watched the studio video of “Worn out Shoes” I fell in love. There are not enough words to describe the talent that just oozes out of this guy. A true country hero in my book!

  • I saw Caleb play live with JTE. The two of the were amazing together.

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