“Fredheads” Unite: Acclaimed Troubadour Returns To Nelsonville

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Longtime Stuart's Opera House favorite Fred Eaglesmith returns to Nelsonville this weekend.

It's hard to pigeonhole Eaglesmith as a practitioner of any one genre of music. Throughout his illustrious three-decade career and his albums, he has succeeded in blending just about every category of roots music, from country and bluegrass to blues and rock 'n' roll. 

Over the years, he has also managed to generate a large and devoted following of fans self-acknowledged as "Fredheads." Eaglesmith's followers are so devoted that he is the host and the centerpiece of several festivals in the United States and in his native Canada.

As a singer, his latest recording efforts sound more like he is channeling Tom Waits than Hank Williams. As a songwriter, he has garnered not only accolades but also financial rewards by having his songs covered and recorded by Nashville superstars like Toby Keith and Alan Jackson.

Just as his songs transcend genre, the artists covering his material range from the likes of Miranda Lambert singing "Time To Get A Gun" (prefacing a performance on YouTube with a nod to the NRA) to Todd Snider and his great version of "Alcohol and Pills."

The Cowboy Junkies, Casey Chambers, Mary Gauthier and Dar Williams have also recorded songs from Eaglesmith's vast catalog.

Eaglesmith is as well-known for his entertaining and witty stage banter as he is for his great songwriting and his tight band. His bands have ranged from the bluegrass-y Flathead Noodlers to the more rocking Flying Squirrels. This Saturday, Eaglesmith returns with the Traveling Steam Show.

According to Eaglesmith's press release, "We just play rock 'n' roll. The root of it all is my little bit of creativity, that little ball of fire inside me. I just do what fells like the truth to me and when it feels like the truth it's really not that hard to to do or hard to listen to. I'm gonna play good, sing good, write good and act good."

Stuart's Marketing and Promotions Director Brian Koscho thinks that Eaglesmith's talent is rare in the modern music industry.

"He manages to excel as a songwriter, performer, and storyteller while keeping a close relationship with his devoted fanbase," he said. "If you're a fan of folks like Todd Snider, you should also be a fan of Fred's."

Lately, Eaglesmith and his troupe have been touring most of the year in a school bus converted to run on used cooking oil from restaurants and diners. The Traveling Steam Show rolls into Nelsonville on Saturday, June 16 and is scheduled to perform at Stuart's Opera House at 8 p.m. For more information and tickets, visit www.stuartsoperahouse.org.