Caleb Klauder

Reviews & Press

Praise for Western Country and Caleb Klauder

The name Caleb Klauder may be more familiar to devotees of old-time music than those of the country persuasion, largely due to his involvement in the venerable Foghorn String Band. Klauder’s musical alter ego happens to be old-time country with an acoustic-oriented, lo-fi sound that falls somewhere between 30-40’s stalwarts The Delmore Brothers and early 50s honky tonk with its cloppy backbeats. On this mostly original affair [Western Country, Hearth Music, 2010], Klauder doesn’t play up the hot solos from steel/electric guitarist Paul Brainard, though there are plenty of those. Instead, what’s really on tap here are Klauder’s vocals, which aren’t polished like a natural crooner’s, but are unvarnished enough to have plenty of character. The end result is a better lyrical focus, hence making this as real as it gets.” -Dan Willging, Driftwood Magazine, Nov 25, 2010

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 … with a selfless attitude, a willingness to do whatever it takes to make good music great … 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. Musicians like Caleb Klauder will never spend enough time promoting themselves. They’re too much about the music, and the community that music builds. 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. – Saving Country Music, October 19, 2011

Here’s to hoping that the country folk revival of the new millennium goes on for a long time. … Honky-tonk is, on Western Country, explored as a smooth style of easy-rolling music, complete with old-time and bluegrass and the spirit of the first half of the twentieth century. Klauder’s incorporation of a extra vocals by bandmates Stephen Lind and Sophie Vitells works perfectly to take us back to musical times we all know hold the key to the perfect country sound. – Sophia Strosberg, John Shelton Ivany’s Top 21, Nov. 22,2010

Rich with tight harmonies, honky tonk rhythm and twang, the result is visceral: [Western Country] capture[s] the foot-stompin’ excitement, raw vitality and spontaneous joy of a live band. In short, this is one upbeat ride back in time! Like his previous solo CD, Dangerous Mes and Poisonous Yous, it brings back the timeless appeal of country swing music from the 1950s, duplicating the sound of early Nashville recordings with uncanny fidelity. – Jackie Morris, Folkworks, Sep 2011

I just can’t get over how well he channels the spirit of some of the early country acts, while still making his songs relevant to our times. Calvin Powers, Taproot Radio

Caleb Klauber [sic] sounds unstuck in time. Had Western Country been recorded 50 years ago, in the era of Hank Williams and Ernest Tubb, he might have been a sensation. Here, Caleb on mandolin and guitar is joined by Sammy Lind on fiddle and guitar, fiddler Sophie Vitells, Paul Brainard on electric and steel guitars plus piano, Jesse Emerson on upright basss and drummer Ned Folkerth for a sweet 12-song set, half Klauber [sic] originals, half cannily-chosen covers. Caleb’s own nestle comfortably among the covers all new songs to me save ‘A Satisfied Mind.’ Unbridled fun start to finish. Sometimes you just can’t miss hearing the utter joy that went into the making. Western Country is absolutely one of those. The performances sparkle with commitment and joy. The picking and playing is superb. Caleb’s fine grained sandpapery voice fits the songs perfectly. Caleb produced with Billy Oskay engineering at Billy’s Big Red Studios. Hadn’t seen his name since his gorgeous Windham Hill work with Michael O Domhnaill. Western Country plays it straight and true. If you miss that vintage C&W sound you’re gonna love what Caleb Klauber [sic] and friends have done here.” Michael Tearson, SingOut

Caleb Klauder has been a well-kept secret of the Pacific Northwest for too damn long my friends. His latest album Western Country proves why. Some may dub him the Wayne Hancock of the West, revitalizing the classic sound without mimicking or mocking it, but his star is bright enough to burn outside the confines of any region. … He should also be considered a top-caliber songwriter. If you listened to this album with no liner notes or no previous knowledge of the songs, you’d either swear they’re all classic covers, or they’re all originals, when in truth it’s a healthy mix. Everything comes across so cohesive. I would’ve sworn to you that songs like “My Time Is Gonna Come” and “Worn Out Shoes” were written back in the day. They’re just too damn good to be written today. And then you take them and combine them with classic, but not common covers like The Louvin Brothers’ “My Baby Came Back” and Johnny Cash’s “Satisfied Mind” and you have an album that is a past-tense tribute and a present-day testament all wrapped into one.  The Triggerman, Saving Country Music, February 24, 2011

Listening to Caleb Klauder’s latest recording is like entering some eternal country-swing tavern in the sky. The Portland singer (by way of Orcas Island and Georgia) has a sandpapery voice so warm and natural, it fits its mandolin-fiddle-guitar setting like well-worn denim. Klauder’s original tunes sit seamlessly next to such classics as “Satisfied Man,” all delivered with a pure homespun sound that’s a perfect blend of the rough and the smooth.  Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times Arts Writer, January 9, 2011

Picture yourself in a sleazy honky tonk in 1952. You’d be listening to Hank Williams live. The stench of beer and stale cigarettes would be in the air. There would be fights over gambling debts, women, or just for the hell of it. Now, fast forward to today as you listen to Caleb. This is music done in the time-honoured tradition of Country. It’s pure, simple and what Country music is all about. This is as honest and true as it gets! Country music purists, delight in the fact that there’s still one artist who understands what the genre is all about.  Dan Joseph, CKWR Blueridge Express

With today’s slick, poppy country music, it’s refreshing to find someone interested in recording traditional country music. Portland, Oregon’s Caleb Klauderis a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist when it comes to country, playing bluegrass with the Foghorn Stringband and rambling off in country with his own solo work. His second album to date, Western County finds a great balance between original songs and paying tribute to old, classic tunes. Klauder‘s authenticity is apparent from the first note of this album. His voice has a ringing quality similar to Hank Williams or a young George Jones, and his band uses fiddle and mandolin in just the right mix with his vocals and guitar. The production even has that “washed-out” hollow quality you hear in old 78s. His original songs are surprisingly well done, sounding like they could have been recorded back in the 40s and 50s by the originators of country music. “My Time is Gonna Come” and “Pieces on the Floor” are especially good, capturing the hurtin’ and cheatin’ music style well, and other originals get in the drinkin’ (and a bit of killin’) aspect. His choice of covers is good too, with two songs made famous by Johnny Cash (“Deep River” and a surprisingly upbeat version of “A Satisfied Mind”) and the classic hurtin’ tunes “What Was I Supposed to Do” and the Louvin Brothers‘ “My Baby Came Back”. This is a fantastic record, worthy of inclusion in any old-time country fans library.  From Earshot Oct 27, 2010

Let’s go honky tonkin’. I got a hot rod Ford and a two dollar bill, I know a spot right over the hill, where the Caleb Klauder Country Band will keep us boot-scootin’ all night long. From the Fiddlefreak, read the whole review here

The Portland Mercury called Western Country “a total, absolute pleasure that hits the sweet spot without trying too hard—proof that Klauder is one of the very best at what he’s doing”…read more here.

Some of my favorite recordings this year are almost straight-ahead country. Caleb Klauder’s Western Country and Yvette Landry’s unbelievable debut Should Have Known make a wonderful testament as to what’s wrong with mainstream Country today. If I had a Country station I’d be playing the crap out of both of these discs, and for that matter my favorite album of 2009 – Zoe Muth’s self titled debut. Read more here Tupelo Honey, KRVM Eugene

The impeccable credentials of Caleb Klauder’s whip-tight country band have never been in question for a second; their excellent, just-released Western Country album revisits the sounds of ’50s and ’60s country with authentic thump and twang. So now that Klauder’s band has teamed up with Cajun accordionist/singer Jesse LÉge and fiddler Joel Savoy, they can add the sounds of the bayou to their masterful repertoire. Like the truest Cajun music, this collaboration plays timeless dancehall tunes in a boozy, spicy two-step. LÉge’s vocals, sung in Cajun French, have all the careworn sound of a lifetime of honky-tonk Saturday nights and churchgoing Sunday mornings, while Klauder’s agile band cracks and strums behind. Forget the DJs and the drink specials—this is going to be the best dance party of the week. NED LANNAMANN The Portland Mercury

Though we’re about as far west as can be, Portland doesn’t have a lot of go-to honky tonk music. Caleb Klauder is the exception: He plays top-shelf classic honky tonk (and occasionally, bluegrass) with the pained enthusiasm of a grizzled Southerner twice his age. On the brand-new Western Country, Klauder tackles canon staples (like the Red Hayes/Jack Rhodes anti-envy rant “Satisfied Mind” and the aching “What Was I Supposed to do?”) with the same passion as his originals, and the line between them pretty much evaporates. Few voices in modern country carry the world-weary authenticity (think Hank Williams Sr., Charlie Monroe, Dwight Yoakam) that Klauder puts forward so effortlessly. — Casey Jarman, Willamette Week

On his new album Western Country Klauder brings us along with an easy country shuffle, comfortably rough hewn vocals and a delightfully murky production. Read more hereIaan Hughes, KCBS, The Real Mr. Heartache

Western Country, taps into the good, solid sound of old honky tonk and early Nashville recordings.  The sound is authentic and natural—Caleb doesn’t try to sound country: he simply is country to the core. Read more here. – American Standard Time, blog for KEXP, The Roadhouse

This week’s Best Thing Ever comes from Caleb Klauder, whose Western Country sounds refreshing and new, despite the fact that much of it also sounds like it was recorded 40 years ago.  Routes and Branches, KRFC, Ft. Collins, CO August 28, 2010

Should really be ‘Northwestern Country,’ as Klauder’s based in Portland, OR, but, fair enough, since the mass exodus of California country luminaries like Mike Stinson, Portland and Seattle do seem to be the new West. While enjoying a fair amount of success as vocalist/mandolin player with old-timey Foghorn Stringband, Klauder’s also been pursuing a parallel solo career, exploring early honky tonk and bluegrass styles, though his first album, Sings Out (Padre, 2000) seems to have been swept under the rug. His second, Dangerous Mes & Poisonous Yous (Padre, 2007), a very fine piece of work, got some attention but he didn’t start promoting it until earlier this year, when he signed on with the same Pacific NW outfit that brought us the fabulous Zoe Muth of Seattle (a recent Muth/Klauder doublebill must have something else). Klauder’s inspirational timeframe for his six splendid originals can be gauged from the six covers, Satisfied Mind, a #1 hit for Porter Wagoner in 1955, Charlie & Ira Louvin’s My Baby Came Back, GB Grayson & Henry Whittier’s Joking Henry, What Was I Supposed To Do? and Deep River by Paul Williams, who played mandolin with Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys in the 50s, and bluegrass pioneer Bill Reid’s In My Heart I Love You Yet. What makes this package special isn’t just Klauder’s dusty, authentic vocal styling—he’s been compared to Hank Williams, Charlie Monroe, Dwight Yoakam, Townes Van Zandt (?) and Doug Sahm, though what I’m hearing is a healthy dose of Lefty Frizzell—but also his superb production. This album just plain and simple sounds right, as close as you’ll get to a 50s LP without actually touching vinyl. In an odd coincidence, I just learned that Klauder recently teamed up with Joel Savoy (see cover story and editorial).  John Conquest, 3rd Coast Music, September, 2010 Edition

For the first time in my recollection an artists has two CDs on the FAR chart simultaneously. Caleb Klauder’s Dangerous Mes and Poisonous You’s and Western Country find a place on the chart. Each of these was named an “album of the month” pick by at least one of the reporting DJs. I’ve been enjoying both of these CDs and will be playing the hell out of Western Country on Taproot Radio over the next couple of months. – Calvin Powers, Taproot Radio

Caleb Klauder is one of my favorite mandolin players. He just stands straight and delivers true tone and time. There’s no pushing or trying to prove anything, but the groove lifts you every time. Caleb’s singing and song writing come from that same casually essential place. Call it “old time stream lined”.  It’ll get you down the road. - Tim O’Brien

If this were somewhere between 1927 and 1949, Caleb Klauder would be a radio star.  Dangerous Mes and Poisonous Yous is the mark of a budding Americana master. – The Oregonian

Caleb Klauder turns out to be a singer-songwriter with a rich country-flavored voice that sounds like Townes Van Zandt one minute and Doug Sahm the next. His honkytonk ditties could easily coax half the bar into that city cowboy shuffling-waltz thing they call dancing these days. - Willamette Week

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