To learn to write a tight, unique, affecting song, Bart Cameron convinced a fellow American to beat a large bucket and travel with him throughout Iceland. They sang about lost love, attempted suicide, and discovering a girlfriend’s collection of wedding dress cut-outs to the hippest of artist communes and the most brutal of fisherman bars, and at the end of the year, they had an album, a following, and a surprising number of electrocution stories.
This wasn’t the beginning of the Foghorns, the name Bart uses for music he writes with mathematician Steve Firchow. 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.
The songs themselves are the focus with the Foghorns, from a country number that reminds the listener “If you love what is alive, it will go ahead and die, so I will only love you when you’re dead,” to a song nominated by fans as the backup Icelandic national anthem, “This is a bad place to be sober, and awake,” to a modest pop tune in which the singer seduces his friend’s wife, to an elegy for a friend who died of a drug overdose, remembering the nights in September, 2001, looking out over Manhattan from a Brooklyn apartment with Billy Idol karaoke in the background. And the songs have taken on lives of their own: in 2006 in Iceland, a number of Foghorns covers will be released, including a full brass band version of I Will Only Love You When You’re Dead by Benni Hemm Hemm, and a melodic rock take on the bucket song Beautiful Girl by popular local band Touch.
Still, when the Foghorns play, they capture the imagination, earning the review of “at once the most frustrating and exciting show of opening night” of the 2005 Iceland Airwaves showcase from LiveonStage (www.liveonstage.org.uk). Other live reviews have been positive, including a number of comparisons to Bob Dylan, which are considered generous but inaccurate by Bart and the band, though a childhood in the Midwest may have shaped Bart’s vocal style. A 13-hour concert held during Iceland’s Election Day, June 6, 2006, with local rock band Reykjavik! became the stuff of legend in Iceland.
In November of 2006, with the Foghorns double album New Low selling through the first printing in two weeks, Bart celebrated by releasing a free album for fans called OLYMPUS. Named after the Olympus Dictaphone he used to record himself, the album strips their popular songs down to vocals and minimal guitar and harmonica to see how well the songs do with no ornamentation whatsoever. It is available on the Beefy Beef Records website, www.beefybeef.com, and all interested are welcome to download it.
Also in November of 2006, Bart Cameron got involved with a documentary film project about returning to America. With the working title Bart and Bush, the film is being produced by Broken Robot Films, www.brokenrobotfilms.com, and will feature Foghorns music and live performances by the Foghorns.
And yes, Bart Cameron is the former editor of the alternative English language magazine the Reykjavik Grapevine, and he wrote the odd travel book Inside Reykjavik.