Foxtails Brigade present an ornate kind of chamber pop, intricate violin and cello arrangements are anchored by Laura Weinbach’s intricately played classical guitar and pitch perfect vocals. But underneath the simple melodies lie an impeding darkness, a lyrical landscape populated by shadowy and bizarre characters, rife with hints of rot, aging, and death.
The Hollywood Hills-born daughter of a cult filmmaker and sister of offbeat stand-up comedian Brent Weinbach, Laura grew up in a musical household that embraced eccentricity. Her next-door neighbors were circus contortionists with emus and fang-toothed monkeys as pets and her childhood activities included snail hunting and spying on celebrity neighbors like Slash, Ice-T and Larry from Perfect Strangers. While her mother, an accomplished pianist, taught the children piano, her father had a more unique approach to musical education:
“When I’d get in trouble as a kid, my father would punish me with cassette tapes,” Laura recalls. “He would make me mixes of all his favorite jazz singers like Billie Holiday, Blossom Dearie, June Kristie and Edith Piaf and tell me that if I could learn all these songs and sing them back to him just like they did on the recordings then I could go out and play with my friends. I’d run to my room and start memorizing. When I was done, I’d sing them all back to him through a little Pig Nose amplifier that we got at a garage sale.”
The method paid off. Much later, these same songs would form the core of Laura’s repertoire as she busked the streets of Paris, her home for half a year. Eight years of classical guitar training along with literature and music degrees from UC Santa Cruz were coming to fruition. Likewise, her off-beat childhood and post-graduate experiences as a substitute teacher would provide a wealth of ideas for compositions of her own.
Laura started Foxtails Brigade in 2006 with her friend, violinist Sivan Sadeh. She moved to San Francisco a year later, playing every club and street corner and she could find. It wasn’t long before the city started to notice. She quit her day job as a substitute teacher in 2009 and has been a full-time performer ever since, sharing stages with Jane Birkin, Laura Veirs, Zee Avi, Stornoway, Faun Fables, and Chris Garneau amongst others. She has collaborated with a number of talented musicians in Foxtails Brigade, including cellists Jen Grady (Emily Jane White, Adam Stevens), Lewis Patzner (Mates of State, Tim Kasher), Joe Lewis (Os Beaches, F-Pod B-Pod), and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Pollock (Citay, Bob Saggeth). Her most recent musical partner is violinist and arranger Anton Patzner of Bright Eyes and Judgement Day.