Campus News

View Year

Long Gone Lonesome' Honors Reclusive Scottish Country Singer

(Posted January 30, 2012)

The Lone Star Swing band will play the songs of Thomas Fraser at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 10, in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Can a shy Scottish farmer who rarely performed in public and indeed never released a recording in the United States during his lifetime become a country music legend and influence? To see the answer for yourself, come to Juniata College for "Long Gone Lonesome," a musical tribute to Thomas Fraser at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 10, in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts on the Juniata campus

For tickets and information about the Juniata College Presents series, please call (814) 641-JTIX (5849). General admission tickets for single performances are $20, except where otherwise noted. Single-show tickets for seniors over age 65 and children age 18 and under are $12. Juniata College students are admitted free with a student ID.

Thomas Fraser, a fisherman and farmer on Burra Isle, one of Scotland's Shetland Islands, was a huge fan of American country music, collecting recordings from many early singers, including Jimmie Rodgers, the "Singing Brakeman," now considered the father of American country music. Fraser learned to play, yodel and sing like his idols and began recording thousands of songs.

When Fraser died at age 50 in 1978, his recordings were mostly left unheard until his grandson discovered them and released a compilation of his work in the 2002 album "Long Gone Lonesome Blues."

The album became a hit as critics celebrated its return to the "purity and simplicity" of country music. The life of Thomas Fraser is the focus of the stage production "Long Gone Lonesome," produced by the National Theatre of Scotland. Written by Duncan McLean, the production has toured throughout the United States and Europe.

"A rousing set of blues-tinged Americana standards that, with fiddle and slide guitar, make the connection between windswept island and lonesome prairie."
The Guardian (a British newspaper)

Duncan McLean also leads the band that performs throughout the show, the Lone Star Swing Band. In between such songs as "Brakeman's Blues," "Over The Rainbow," "Lonely Boy on the Prairie" and "The Mississippi Shore," the band tells the story of Fraser's life interspersed with personal recollections of their own careers.

A critic from the British newspaper The Guardian, wrote: "A rousing set of blues-tinged Americana standards that, with fiddle and slide guitar, make the connection between windswept island and lonesome prairie."

Playwright McLean leads the band on vocals and guitar. Dick Levens plays lap steel guitar and mandolin. Iain Tait plays electric bass and Graham Simpson plays drums. Lynda Anderson plays fiddle.

Thomas Fraser's many recordings have been released in several albums. In addition to "Long Gone Lonesome Blues," Fraser's estate has released "You and My Old Guitar," "Treasure Untold," "That Far Away Land" and "Just Call Me Lonesome."

The production has been touring since 2009.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.