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Frederick John Elgersma (born July 9, 1957), known by the stage name Fred Eaglesmith, is a Canadian alternative country singer-songwriter.[1] 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.[2]

Fred Eaglesmith
Eaglesmith 2006.jpg
Fred Eaglesmith at the Roots of Heaven festival at Patronaat in Haarlem, the Netherlands (2006)
Background information
Birth nameFrederick John Elgersma
Born (1957-07-09) July 9, 1957 (age 61)
OriginCaistor Centre, Ontario, Canada
GenresAlternative country
Years active1980–present
LabelsA Major Label, Lonesome Day
Associated actsWillie P. Bennett


Early lifeEdit

Eaglesmith, one of nine children, was raised by a farming family near Guelph in rural Southern Ontario.[3] He began playing the guitar at age 12.[4]


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[5] 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.[6]

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.[7] Eaglesmith publishes his own records.

In 2010, Eaglesmith was featured on the Late Show with David Letterman as the musical guest. He performed "Careless" from the album Cha Cha Cha.

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.[8]

Eaglesmith's songs have been included in the musical play, Dear Johnny Deere.[9] The play was performed at the Charlottetown Festival in 2013.[10]

Band membersEdit

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.

Current membersEdit

  • Fred J. Eaglesmith – guitars, vocals
  • Tiffani Ginn – vocals, accordion, guitar, melodica, mandolin, ukulele, stand up bass, percussion

Former membersEdit

  • David Essig – mandolin, guitar
  • Scott Merritt – guitar, multiple instruments
  • Willie P. Bennett – mandolin, harmonica, vocals
  • Washboard Hank – washboard, dobro[11]
  • Ralph Schipper – bass, vocals
  • Justine Fischer – bass
  • Darcy Yates – bass, vocals
  • Luke Stackhouse – bass, vocals
  • Bruce Aitken – drums
  • Skip Wamsteeker – drums
  • Jude Waldman – drums
  • Kevin Komatsu – drums
  • Kori Hepner – drums
  • John P. Allen – fiddle
  • Craig Bignell – banjo, vocals, percussion
  • Roger Marin, Jr. – pedal steel, guitar, vocals
  • Dan Walsh – dobro, guitar, vocals
  • Matty Simpson – guitar, banjo, vocals
  • Mike Zinger – mandolin, banjo
  • Brit Ginn – vocals, flute



  • Fred J. Eaglesmith (1980) as Fred J. Eaglesmith
  • The Boy That Just Went Wrong (1983) as Fred J. Eaglesmith
  • Indiana Road (1987) as Fred J. Eaglesmith
  • There Ain't No Easy Road (1992) as Fred J. Eaglesmith & The Flying Squirrels
  • Things Is Changin' (1993) as Fred J. Eaglesmith & The Flying Squirrels
  • From The Paradise Motel (1994) as Fred J. Eaglesmith & The Flying Squirrels
  • Drive-In Movie (1995)[12]
  • Lipstick, Lies and Gasoline (1997)[12]
  • 50 Odd Dollars (1999)[3][11]
  • Live: Ralph's Last Show (2001)[13] as Fred Eaglesmith & The Flying Squirrels
  • Falling Stars and Broken Hearts (2002)
  • The Official Bootleg Series Volume 1: Live Solo 2002 (2002) as Fred J. Eaglesmith
  • Balin (2003) as Fred Eaglesmith & The Flathead Noodlers
  • The Official Bootleg Series Volume 2: The Fred Eaglesmith Texas Weekend 2004 (2004) as Fred J. Eaglesmith
  • Dusty (2004)
  • Milly's Cafe (2006)
  • Tinderbox (2008)
  • Cha Cha Cha (2010)[10]
  • 6 Volts (2011)
  • Tambourine (2013)[10]
  • Standard (2017)[10]


  • Take It All Away / Caroline (1987) as Fred J. Eaglesmith; from Indiana Road
  • Wooden Wheels in Hagersville (1990) as Fred J. Eaglesmith & The Flying Squirrels; single-only release
  • Watertown (2017) from Standard

Other AppearancesEdit

  • Lucille (live), Live at the Iron Horse Vol. 1 (1997)
  • White Trash (live in studio), WNCW 88.7 – Crowd Around The Mic Volume 2 (1998)
  • Little Buffalo (live in studio), KNON 89.3 FM: Texas Renegade Radio Vol.2 – Live In The Studio (2000)
  • Hallelujah, Go Tell It On The Mountain, CMT Christmas (2001)
  • I Like Trains (live), Dawson City Music Festival 50.30 – A CBC Compilation (2008)


  • There Ain't No Easy Road (2005) Documentary DVD
  • Pickin' In The Pines: Live At The 2005 Great Northern Picnic (2006) Concert DVD, as Fred Eaglesmith And The Flying Squirrels
  • Live Below Sea Level (2007) Concert DVD recorded live with band in 2006
  • The Small Beers Tour (2009) Concert DVD recorded live solo in 2005
  • The Fred Eaglesmith Traveling Steam Show (2015) DVD including both concert and documentary footage

Music videosEdit

Year Video Director
1998 105[14] Steven Goldmann
1999 Rodeo Boy
2007 Thinkin' 'bout You[15] Michael Salomon
2010 I Would Roger Maunder
2013 Johnny Cash


  1. ^ Here Publishing (March 29, 2005). The Advocate. Here Publishing. pp. 65–. ISSN 0001-8996.
  2. ^ " Fred Eaglesmith Explains His Creative Push Forward with 'Tambourine'". Exclaim!, By Kerry Doole, January 29, 2014
  3. ^ a b CMJ Network, Inc. (July 1999). CMJ New Music Monthly. CMJ Network, Inc. pp. 47–. ISSN 1074-6978.
  4. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (November 1, 1997). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 10–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  5. ^ No Depression. No Depression. 2001. p. 121.
  6. ^ "Fred Eaglesmith rocks the Empire". Dakota Student, October 4, 2016
  7. ^ Ray Robertson (March 21, 2016). Lives of the Poets (with Guitars): Thirteen Outsiders Who Changed Modern Music. Biblioasis. pp. 176–. ISBN 978-1-77196-073-1.
  8. ^ "Fred Eaglesmith performed in concert in Kamsack". Kamsack Times, October 31, 2016
  9. ^ "Fred in your head: Eaglesmith musical illuminates rural life". Cam Fuller, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, September 15, 2016
  10. ^ a b c d "New Fred Eaglesmith album worth the wait". The Guardian, January 11, 2014
  11. ^ a b "Fred Eaglesmith – 50-Odd Dollars". No Depression, June 30, 1999
  12. ^ a b Jason Schneider (December 15, 2010). Whispering Pines: The Northern Roots of American Music... from Hank Snow to the Band. ECW Press. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-1-55490-552-2.
  13. ^ Mois Benarroch (July 14, 2008). The Modern Troubadour – Music Reviews of Singer Songwriters. pp. 44–. ISBN 978-1-4092-1059-7.
  14. ^ "CMT : Videos : Fred Eaglesmith : 105". Country Music Television. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
  15. ^ "CMT : Videos : Fred Eaglesmith : Thinkin' 'Bout You (from the CMT film Broken Bridges)". Country Music Television. Retrieved November 18, 2011.

External linksEdit