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Fred Eaglesmith at the Roots of Heaven festival at Patronaat in Haarlem, the Netherlands (2006)
Frederick John Elgersma (born July 9, 1957), known by the stage name Fred Eaglesmith, is a Canadian alternative country singer-songwriter. He is known for writing songs about vehicles, rural life, down-and-out characters, lost love and quirky rural folk. His songwriting uses techniques of short story writing, including unreliable narrators, surprise endings, and plot twists. In 2016, Eaglesmith toured extensively with his band.
Eaglesmith, one of nine children, was raised by a farming family near Guelph in rural Southern Ontario. He began playing the guitar at age 12.
As a teenager Eaglesmith hopped a freight train to Western Canada and began writing songs and performing.
Eaglesmith founded a band known as the Smokin' Losers. He later formed a group called known as both the Flying Squirrels and the Flathead Noodlers, switching the name to represent different styles of music. The Flathead Noodlers play bluegrass, while the Flying Squirrels play more folk and rock. His first self-titled album was released in 1980.
Eaglesmith appeared in a 2001 television movie, The Gift.
A typical Fred Eaglesmith show includes his music set between several lengthy between-song comic monologues by Eaglesmith. Topics in the past have included stories about crossing the U.S.-Canada border, Newfoundlanders, and some friends from an Indian reserve. His fans are known as "Fredheads", a nod to deadheads, who followed the Grateful Dead. He is known to tour extensively throughout Canada and the U.S.
When Eaglesmith appears in solo performances, he bills himself as Fred J. Eaglesmith. In addition to his own albums, he frequently collaborated with the late Willie P. Bennett, a former member of Eaglesmith's band, who stepped down after a heart attack in early 2007. Eaglesmith publishes his own records.
Since 2012, performances have been billed as the Fred Eaglesmith Travelling Steam Show and include opening songs performed by Bill Poss, the Ginn Sisters, and his wife Tif Ginn.
Eaglesmith's songs have been included in the musical play, Dear Johnny Deere. The play was performed at the Charlottetown Festival in 2013.
Fred's backing musicians sometimes use band names, which have included The Flying Squirrels, The Smoking Losers - who also performed in a bluegrass formation as The Flathead Noodlers, The Fred Eaglesmith Travelling Steam Show, and Fred Eaglesmith starring Tif Ginn.
Fred J. Eaglesmith - guitars, vocals
Tiffani Ginn - vocals, accordion, guitar, melodica, mandolin, ukulele, stand up bass, percussion