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FESTIVAL 2015! FUNDRAISER 2014...

"There is a tremendous sense of playfulness and sheer enjoyment in many of the tracks -- a rare thing in recordings, especially "field" recordings such as this" - John Lilly, US Country Music Artist

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One of the most remarkable stories in recording history...

Thomas Fraser of Burra Isle, Shetland, passed away in 1978 aged only 50. Thomas had been a fisherman and crofter - ordinary you might say - yet he left a stunning legacy: thousands of songs recorded at home in his small croft house using a reel-to-reel recorder. Not music traditionally associated with Shetland entirely, for Thomas was an exponent of the American country and blues styles and his passion was the guitar.

Nearing his death, Thomas quietly observed that maybe someday, his music may see the light of day. His tapes lay undisturbed for 25 years until his Grandson discovered them and inspired by what he heard, compiled a 25-track CD release in 2002. The release of 'Long Gone Lonesome Blues' gave Thomas Fraser the recognition he so richly deserved. The critics called it "one of the most remarkable stories in recording history" and "some of the greatest American music you will hear". Two more discs soon followed: 'You and My Old Guitar' (2003) and 'Treasure Untold' (2005).

What startled the critics and fans of country music was the authenticity and sheer passion poured into each track. Not only that, here was music with a story to tell - an amazing story of undiscovered talent and long-lost music unearthed in a remote Shetland Island community. The success of the posthumous release of the three Thomas Fraser volumes established his name as a true country music legend. Despite being reclusively shy and self-deprecating (he never even considered himself a musician), experts now mention the name Thomas Fraser in the same breath as his idols Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams.

Amazingly, the Thomas Fraser legacy is one that is still being mined. 'That Far Away Land', released in November 2008, featured a further 25 stunning tracks, unearthed during the previous two years. The story continued with the release by Moon Guitars of the Thomas Fraser Commemorative Guitar and its launch at the Thomas Fraser Memorial Festival, held in Burra Isle each November. In December 2008, Thomas's life was the subject of a major BBC TV documentary 'Shetland Lone Star'. This documentary, along with a full length Festival feature was released on DVD in April 2009. Later that year, the National Theatre of Scotland toured a production of the Thomas Fraser story across the country.

In 2012, in perhaps the most significant event since the project began, the National Theatre of Scotland took the Thomas Fraser story to the USA. In a way, Thomas Fraser's life had come full circle.

 

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Last updated: 24-March 2014: all contents © Karl Simpson 2002-