In March of 2012, the original lineup of Strangefolk reunited for the first time since 2000, performing four shows in Brooklyn, Burlington and Portland, Maine. With additional appearances at Gathering of the Vibes, The Capitol Theatre , snoe.down and a recent set of four shows in Boston, Burlington and Portland, Strangefolk is back and treating fans to long awaited songs and shows that recall the vibe of the late 90’s Jamband scene in the Northeast. The fan base is excited for the potential each show brings and the band is showing no signs of cooling off in between performances. Reid Genauer, Jon Trafton, Erik Glockler and Luke Smith talked to Managing Editor Pete Mason about their recent tour, improvisation and what lies ahead for Strangefolk.
Pete Mason: This past run of Strangefolk shows found the band breaking out older songs that haven’t been played in years, some not since 1999. What brought about the trip to the vault?
Erik Glockler : We’ve had requests from fans and friends to play the older stuff. It was fun to revisit and it felt good to bust out some of the OTHER old stuff.
Jon Trafton: For me it was mostly driven by wanting to revisit the tunes that haven’t seen much light of day, even since the reunion. We have so many songs in our repertoire but in the last several shows prior to this past run we’ve tended toward the same song base, kind of the ones we know we can pull off with confidence. I wanted to dive a little deeper. I think we were all happy to go there and we hoped our fans would be happy for us to shake it up a bit, too.
Luke Smith: We decided to delay performing the new material – most of which is still under construction – before a live audience. Some of those older songs like “Caleb”, “Blues Tune”, “Woke Up” … those are songs from some of the earliest years of our playing together as a band. There were requests for many older songs and covers from the early days, tunes like “Midnight Moonlight” and “What Goes On”. I really enjoyed playing all those tunes; they took me back to the old days of the group – in a way not unlike looking at old photos. The gift is our opportunity to bring today’s experience into those songs. After all, isn’t that what “vaults” are for? I am grateful we have one!
Pete Mason: What has been the difference between the shows in 2012 and the shows in 2013 in terms of improvisation?
Jon Trafton: In most of 2012 I was still reacquainting myself with the songs, the changes. I think in 2013 I’m feeling more at home inside the music. The more comfortable I feel, the more out on a limb I’ll go. I think there were some really great moments in this past run where we were in pure improv mode, just making it up as we went along.
Pete Mason: Why the earlier time on stage this run? In the past, most shows started at 8, done before by midnight, a departure from past Strangefolk runs.
Reid Genauer: There was no profound reason. To be honest I rarely ever know what the start time is until the day of the show or soundcheck. I suppose its just because we did every night as “An Evening With” so there was no opener and thus an early start. It would be weird to start at 10 and just have the bar in limbo. I like it though. That’s when most shows start at a theater. We play relatively long shows and I find when it gets too too late the band and the crowd start to get a little slack-jawed. If you’re slated to rock, might as well get on with it me thinks.
Pete Mason: This is the second run of four shows that ended in Portland, Maine. What is it like finishing off four shows in your hometown?
Erik Glockler: I think we all love playing at The State Theater. It a great room and it looks awesome from the stage when it’s filled with people. The crowds for the last two shows there had a lot of energy for us to feed off. The first three nights of shows had no song repeats but for the State we played whatever we wanted to play.
Pete Mason: Are there any late fall or early 2014 dates on the horizon for Strangefolk?
Jon Trafton: Nothing is on the books at the moment but we definitely plan to keep playing. We’re just trying to come up with a game plan that fits everyone’s schedules.
Luke Smith: That sounds like an excellent question for the I Ching. It appears we have made our Strangefolk Reunion statement for the time being, but anything can happen!
Reid Genauer: We don’t have any other dates locked and loaded but we’re having a blast and intend to keep on keeping on. I felt particularly inspired after this last run. It felt like it was the first time, in the second coming, that we were totally in the moment and not thinking about what the twists and turns were in the song or distracted by the nervous energy about getting back together. I listened to a few songs from the run and in some ways I felt like it was the best we ever sounded. My measure of that is obviously not objective but I often find when I listen back to shows from our early days I cringe at one thing or another. We are our hardest critics but these shows had low cringe factor – they just felt relaxed and mature – in a good way. Let there be folk rock.