‘Klaufar…’ Next time you’re in Iceland, be careful how you use it in a sentence. Roughly translated as, “clumsy cow feet”, the word could either get you a fist in the face, or the hottest County Music north of the 60th parallel.
Hearing a ‘southern twang’ reverberate from a place that’s closer to North Pole than to Kentucky’s blue grass is - to say the least – odd, but then again so is the origin of the band Klaufar.
It seems that back in the spring 2006, Jose Hernandez, a member of popular Icelandic pop band Skítamórall, decided to change his musical direction. Being a fan of Country and its similarities to Folk and the Celtic way of telling a melodic story, he turned both his musical and geographic attentions southward, to the coastal river city of Selfoss. There, Hernandez set his sights on coffee bistro owner, Papa Cruz. Not only did Jose’s target run the successful establishment, Kaffi Krus, but Papa also fronted the popular band, ‘Soma’.
It took some convincing on Jose’s part, but eventually the two Icelanders’ talents melted together into a hot Country harmony that quickly drew an appreciative audience.
In no time their fast growing fan base led to the necessity of forming a full blown band. To that end Jose’s brother and bassist Lesson Leaf was added, along with veteran drummer, Big Nelson and Iceland’s premier electric guitarist Mad Marvin.
The freshly formed fiver jokingly christened their new union, ‘Klaufar ’- clumsy cow feet. Granted, it wasn’t the most flattering name in the Icelandic lexicon, but the moniker quickly became synonymous with a meaty, stylish brand of Country music that definitely had legs.
Throughout 2007 the band toured, promoting their debut album, The Happiness is Bright. Mostly covers of Icelandic folk, Pop, and American Country classics, the recordings not only grabbed the attention of an ever-widening audience; it likewise caught the ear of Ziggy Steel, one of Iceland’s top steel guitarists.
After hearing the Klaufar album, Steel asked if he could sit in with the band at a huge country festival. The boys jumped at the opportunity of integrating Ziggy’s unique sound. And before the end of the concert Klaufar had its sixth member.
The success of their debut CD, (which went gold in a matter of months), was due in large part to the band’s commitment to Hernandez’s original change in musical direction; they all went south –across the pond - and recorded in Country Music’s undisputed capitol, Nashville, Tennessee. There, teaming up with Dark Horse Studios, they tracked not only their original collection, but they came back again in August of 2008 to complete their second volume of classic covers. And, as an added bonus for their international fans, Klaufar’s newest offering includes three original songs in English.
Working closely with music industry veteran Jeff Teague, President & General Manager of Artist & Repertoire, LLC, the boys from Iceland are just beginning to warm up their America audience with their much anticipated sophomore recording, The Last Thin American (Oct, 2008).
Klaufar – at first hearing, the word may conjure up the image of Icelandic schoolboys on a cow-tipping binge. But when you listen to the melodic lyrics of Klaufar’s country music, you tend to imagine a white landscape… illuminated by a yellow campfire… surrounded by a group of bluegrass storytellers who harmonize with a decidedly northern twang.
When you hit the button on their CD and you join them around that campfire, you’ll quickly get passed the ‘mad cow’ implications of ‘clumsy cow feet’; for the closer you get to the music the more you realize that these Icelandic boys are not grilling hamburger, their menu is strictly Country-fried steak.
~ Barton Green