The Kamsack Community Arts Council is presenting Fred Eaglesmith as its first performance of the 2016-2017 Stars for Saskatchewan live music season. The show will be at the Playhouse Theatre on Saturday.
Fred Eaglesmith is one-of-a-kind iconic Americana songwriter, as legions of fans around the world will attest, and when his bus pulls into town, it's been said the circus has arrived, said information from the arts council. An evening with Fred has been described as "an evening of sheer unbridled joy that melds master classes in songwriting with what borders on stand-up comedy."
Many of his fans, self-described "Fred-Heads," have seen him over 20 times, the information said. Whether he is performing with his wife, Tiff Ginn, or with his band in his Traveling Steam Show, the musicianship is consistently top notch.
Eaglesmith is well respected in the music industry, but even after decades of touring the world and recording, he is still somewhat of a cult musician, it said.
Tiff Ginn is a gutsy, amazing singer and a transcendent songwriter who has spent most of her life touring and playing music, it said. Her impressive, sultry vocals and glorious harmonies with Fred, along with her multiple instrument additions to the show are awe-inspiring.
A songwriter’s songwriter, Eaglesmith has a depth that is informed by miles of experience as a true road dog, it said. “Fred is not only the star of show but also the bus driver and chief mechanic while on tour, keeping him and his band on the road.”
Unlike many of today’s artists, touring is not something he does some of the time or only in support of a new record. Touring is his life.
A typical day in the life of Eaglesmith will find him driving an average of four to eight hours between shows in his converted 1990 Bluebird tour bus. He outfitted the bus with a system of filters and pumps which he designed himself to enable them to run on waste vegetable oil recycled from deep fryers in venues and restaurants along the road. This past year included seeing Eaglesmith astonish many local mechanics by changing his own blown bus transmission on the side of a highway in rural Alberta without missing one gig.
Adding a touch of the theatrics to every show, Eaglesmith dubbed his band The Traveling Steam Show and they began performing in steampunk-ish outfits a few years ago. Eaglesmith told the Albuquerque Journal: “It’s a show. It’s a lot more than a concert. I like to pay attention to what’s cutting edge and bring that into the live show.”
And with such great attention to giving the best in his performances both live and recorded, critics have taken notice. The Los Angeles Times, in a live review, noted: “Eaglesmith snarled out lyrics that underscore his overriding attitude that music and musicians ought to be cherished in the here-and-now and valued for the quality of their art, not the size of their bank accounts or TV ratings.”
“The Arts Council has had a huge amount of interest and excitement for our first presentation of the season,” the information said. “One fan, a trucker from Preeceville, recently wrote on our Facebook page, "On October 22 I'm going to see the hardest working band in rock and roll! Fred and his band tour from Alaska to Texas, from Los Angeles to New York City, and from Dawson City to Halifax. They play 270 plus shows each year across North America in the summer and Europe in the winter.
“Fred grew up on a farm in southern Ontario, ran away from home at 15, rode freight trains with the last of the hippies in the late 1960s, returned to the farm, lost the farm, started another farm, went 'back to the land' before that was a thing, lived 'off the grid' for seven years, ran a multi-million dollar business, gave it all up and started touring his music full time 20 years ago.
“He has recorded 20 studio albums and has been playing music and writing songs for 45 years!
“People, I've seen Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Ozzy/Black Sabbath, Stompin' Tom, Buck 65, Arcade Fire, The Tragically Hip and over 150 bands from punk to hip-hop to rap to metal to rock to country to jazz. None compare to the quality of Fred's show. I've seen him 11 times and will never miss another chance to see the show on tour.
“And he's going to be in your town. See you there!"
Fred's songs, an eclectic fusion of rock and roll, country music, Americana, indie-rock and a heavy blues influence, have been snatched up by some of the biggest names in Nashville, including Miranda Lambert, Todd Snider, The Cowboy Junkies, Alan Jackson and Toby Keith.
He's even been a musical guest on The Late Show with David Letterman. His music has been featured in films and television scores including those of True Blood and Grimm. But that’s as close to “the music biz” as Eaglesmith wants to get.
“Despite all of his accomplishments you are more likely to see him playing to 150 of his fans in a small town community hall rather than at a large capacity theatre or concert venue,” it said. “Likewise it is more probable to hear about his next show via a hand-stencilled roadside sign and to find Fred sleeping in his bus in a Walmart parking lot or local campground over a five-star hotel.
“Instead of outdoor festivals and tour buses, he’ll gladly play a hole-in-the-wall bar with 100 people. That’s where Eaglesmith classics like Alcohol & Pills, Drinking Too Much and White Rose belong.”
Doors open for Fred Eaglesmith and Tiff Ginn at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, with curtain at 8 p.m. The Arts Council has pushed the show half an hour later than its usual show time to allow members of the Kamsack community to attend a pre-concert supper at Ladies Night, it said. “Head over to the Playhouse for Fred and still get back to Ladies Night for post-concert cocktails if you wish.”
Single show tickets and season packages are available for purchase at Cottenie & Gardner, and if there are seats still available, at the door. Call Nikki Lachambre for more information.