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Fred Eaglesmith

Idioma disponible: inglés
Canadian singer and songwriter Fred Eaglesmith makes music that lives somewhere between country and contemporary folk, with a dark undertow that suggests rock & roll without making it an audible influence. Eaglesmith's songs frequently deal with themes of a hardscrabble existence where liquor, drugs, violence, and desperation are facts of life along with love and good times; his lyrics are often leavened with sharp wit and his delivery can be sorrowful, energetic, or sarcastic depending on the song. Eaglesmith performs as a solo act, as part of a duo, and with full bands that lean on either country and folk or bluegrass depending on which musicians he takes out with him, with all his configurations blending his lyrical voice with storytelling and a sense of showmanship. And as distinctive as his material may be, his peers have shown their admiration by recording his songs, with Miranda Lambert, the Cowboy Junkies, Kasey Chambers, and Alan Jackson among the artists who've covered his work. His 1980 debut, Fred J. Eaglesmith, is a quiet but rootsy effort that showed off the influence of John Prine; 1997's Lipstick, Lies & Gasoline is a gritty set with a greater emphasis on electric guitars on percussion, and 2003's Balin ranks with his best bluegrass-themed albums. Fred Eaglesmith was born Frederick John Elgersma on July 9, 1957 in Caistor Centre, Ontario. He grew up with eight siblings on a 200-acre farm run by his father, who was a preacher who insisted the family attend church five times a week. Young Fred enjoyed listening to country music on local radio stations, and after seeing Elvis Presley perform on television when he was nine, he decided he wanted to be a musician and taught himself to write songs. Friends had already given him the nickname Eaglesmith by the time he turned 16 and left home, hitchhiking and hopping freight trains as he traveled across Canada, playing whenever and wherever he could. In 1980, he recorded and self-released his first album, Fred J. Eaglesmith. After his family's farm went into foreclosure, Eaglesmith doubled down on his determination to make his living in music, but after marrying his high school sweetheart and having three children, he returned to farming as a back-up plan, buying property near Alberton, Ontario and raising flowers. The farm prospered for a while, and being closer to Toronto made it easier for him to play clubs on a regular basis. He continued to record, issuing The Boy That Just Went Wrong in 1983 and Indiana Road in 1987, and by the time he released There Ain't No Easy Road in 1991, he had assembled the road band the Flying Squirrels -- Scott Merritt on banjo and guitar, Willie P. Bennett on mandolin and harmonica, and Ralph Schipper on bass. Through extensive touring and positive word of mouth, Eaglesmith developed a loyal following, and when his farm went bankrupt in the early '90s, he decided his best bet was to continue with his music. 1994's Paradise Motel was a live album taken from a show in Dearborn, Michigan, and 1995's critically acclaimed Drive-In Movie included the song "Wilder Than Her," which was later covered by American folk singer Dar Williams. Eaglesmith struck a deal with the successful American independent label Razor & Tie for 1997's Lipstick, Lies & Gasoline, which was a set of tough, raw-nerved songs with production and arrangements that pushed his sound closer to rock. 1999's 50 Odd Dollars was a gritty but slightly more approachable effort that was his first LP to include percussionist Hank Fisher, aka Washboard Hank, whose eccentric style became a major part of his live show. 2001's Ralph's Last Show: Live in Santa Cruz was a concert souvenir recorded during Ralph Schipper's last gig with Eaglesmith; the bassist quit touring following a heart attack. With 2002's Falling Stars and Broken Hearts, Eaglesmith launched AML Records, or "A Major Label," a label he founded himself. With 2003's Balin, Eaglesmith moved away from the edgy sound he debuted on Lipstick, Lies & Gasoline in favor of a bluegrass-oriented approach with a band he called the Flathead Noodlers. 2004's Dusty was a dramatic change of pace, a glossy (at least by Eaglesmith's standards) set informed by vintage pop and soul (the name refers to his primary influence for the album, Dusty Springfield). Eaglesmith further asserted his creative independence by converting a former bait shop into a private recording studio in Port Dover, Ontario, where he cut 2006's acoustic-oriented Milly's Cafe. 2008's Tinderbox was a more aggressively produced album informed by mid-'60s rock, with lyrics informed by gospel music. Following 2010's Cha Cha Cha and 2011's 6 Volts, Eaglesmith began working with singer and multi-instrumentalist Tiff Ginn, also known as Tiffany Ginn, formerly with the Texas-based act the Fabulous Ginn Sisters. Ginn appeared on 2013's Tambourine, and she mixed 2016's Standard as well as playing and singing on it. Eaglesmith and Ginn began touring as a duo, and in 2020 they put out Alive, a two-disc set recorded during a concert in Vienna, Virginia.
© Mark Deming . /TiVo
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