Fred Eaglesmith – from Letterman to Haliburton

Raconteur and songwriter coming to McKecks Blue Line

By Terrance Gavan – Haliburton Highlander

Who is Fred Eaglesmith?

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Freddie Eaglesmith is coming to McKecks in Haliburton on Oct 20, 2011. Photo submitted by Fred Eaglesmith.com.

Fred Eaglesmith defies description or categorization.

I have seen him only once in concert, at a small venue out west. But I’ve listened to him for two decades.

He’s a hard guy to pin down. Fred Eaglesmith is coming to Haliburton and McKecks Blue Line on Oct 20.

His shows are worth four times the paltry $25 McKecks is charging. Because Eaglesmith is more than a writer and a raconteur.

He’s a showman. One of those guys who steps into a bar with the dust of the long lonesome road trailing viscerally in his wake.

Dennis O’Toole a freelancePeterboroughmusic reviewer wrote two years ago just what this ill-defined troubadour brings to the dance floor.

“Fred Eaglesmith makes music that defies categorization or imitation,” wrote O’Toole, via the Peterborough Examiner. “Blending bluegrass sensibility and rockabilly swagger with the raw emotion of country and gospel at it’s best; an Eaglesmith show is unlike anything that your hard-earned dollar is going to buy a ticket to in this town or any other.

Eaglesmith spurns with arcane ardor the norms of contemporary wisdom. A concert with Fred is a hodgepodge. An eclectic rumination on life, love and story’s gleaned from Fred’s freakishly incandescent life.

When I saw him he was playing this strange orange Gretsch electric guitar. With ruthless abandon. Fred has been on the road playing one-man sets for over 30 years now.

He was born in Caistor Centre, Ont., and is currenly based in nearby Port Dover. He playsAmericaand abroad, but most of the time he’s happy just touringCanada.

“I tour every little town, all the backwaters,” Eaglesmith told Jared Storey of Metro Winnipeg recently. “I’m on this huge tour right now playing places even I’ve never even heard of. It’s so great to be in some little bar in the middle of some little backwater in the middle ofCanadaand the people come out. They’re happy and I just love it.”

Eaglesmith also appeared on Letterman in 2010 – his network debut – playing “Careless” from his newest CD Cha-Cha-Cha. (Just Google Fred Eaglesmith-Letterman) If you go to the YouTube video you will see a version of Eaglesmith that you won’t see at McKecks. It displays his versatility and I’m sure that many of his dedicated fans – called FredHeads – were absolutely gobsmacked.

His traditional cult songs include “I like Trains” (epitomical Fred) and his ode to Texas Time to Get a Gun.

Some politically correct fans have taken issue with Fred songs that were covered by some popular artists. Alan Jackson covered Freight Train, Miranda Lambert did Time to Get a Gun, and, most notably, Toby Keith, on his 2007 album Big Dog Daddy, the Uncle Sam lovin’ country music icon covered Eaglesmith’s song White Rose.

“I’ve been doing it a long, long time so I just know how to do it,” Eaglesmith, 52, told the Metro’s Storey. “It’s just normal. It really is. The first time I left home was just hitching and hopping freights. I was 15. Then in my early 20s I started going on the road with music and I’ve been doing it ever since, off and on, mostly on (laughs).
“I tour every little town, all the backwaters,” Eaglesmith says. “I’m on this huge tour right now playing places even I’ve never even heard of. It’s so great to be in some little bar in the middle of some little backwater in the middle of Canada and the people come out. They’re happy and I just love it.”
“I played for eight to 10 people and then the next year there’d be 15, then 20, and now there’s 150 to 200,” Eaglesmith says. “That’s really hard work, but you get a really loyal following.”

So who is Fred Eaglesmith?

Best answer?

Head to McKecks and judge for yourself.

Terrance.gavan@haliburtonhighlander.com twitter.com/terrancegavan   [/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]