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Fred Eaglesmith Travelling Steam Show Review

Posted in: Concerts & Events, News, Reviews | 2 Comments | Posted on by Mary Anne

Ser·en·dip·i·ty - 1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.

A serendipitous event is how it all started. Mike Zinger, mandolin player, promoter and all round good guy who plays in the Fred Eaglesmith Travelling Steam Show, happened  to walked into Cheeky Monkey on a beautiful April day when we had the doors wide open to let in the spring warmth.  He was walking up and down Christina Street dropping off posters for the then upcoming Friday May 10th show at The Eagles Club.  As we chatted, Mike happened to glance over my shoulder and caught sight of the board listing all the events we host in-store as well as sell tickets for. When he happened to ask if we would sell tickets for the show, we of course agreed. It was serendipity - a true happy accident he walked in that day. As a result, we are pleased to say we helped sell over half the tickets for the show.

There was never any doubt we would be in the audience considering we are Fred fans - not full fledged Fred-Heads perhaps, but this would make our 3rd time seeing him live and we own many of his CD’s including the newest release ‘6 Volts’.  Fred’s songs are about what he knows - hard work ethics, cars, trains, horses and relationships. In other words rural Ontario living. On his CD’s you do get a hint of his wit, but at a live show - well you are hit hard on the head with his humour.

The evening opened up with a solo performance by Bill “Poss” Passalacqua. Bill is a singer and songwriter who gets his mail in High Hill, TX - so he says.  After getting his law degree from the University of Illinois in 1994, he moved to Austin, TX to pursue a career in the music business. Finding that there was lots of music and very little business, Passalacqua decided he liked it better that way. He moved to the Virgin Islands in 1996 to woodshed for the winter and then hit the road for good.

He met Tif Ginn, married her, and, together with their newborn son Blue and Tif’s sister Brit, they joined up with Fred Eaglesmith in 2009. They worked together to form the Fred Eaglesmith Traveling Steam Show.  Bill’s set was short, but filled with humour both in songs like “Skinny Dog Blues”,  and with the wise cracks he’d make with a straight face.

Following Bill was his wife Tif Ginn performing songs off her own CD’s. Tif has spent most of her adult life touring North America playing music professionally. Ginn toured first as half of the Fabulous Ginn Sisters, releasing 3 critically acclaimed CDs then as part of the Fred Eaglesmith Traveling Show. Now she takes a turn as a solo artist, fronting the band
she has been playing with for the last several years, which are all members of Fred’s band also.

This lady has style, both in her music and presentation.  A common thread through the whole night was the performers ability to wise crack and joke with the audience.  If they carry on like this while not performing , they must have a great time - all the time.

The Travelling Steam Show band is THE most self contained group we have ever encountered.  Everyone does double duty for each of the 3 acts as they played through the evening.  They are like one big happy family that travels from town to town in several converted buses that run on used cooking oil.

During a short intermission Bill, Tif and other band members sold all sorts of items at their merchandise booth.  Everything from the book written by Bill about what it’s like to be in the Travelling Steam Show, to beer holders, to gently used clothing to CD’s were available.  There was a silent auction for an autographed poster from this event that was won by our friend Stef Smalls, who was sitting with us.  Also auctioned off were 2 yummy looking pies.  Over the past year, the pie auctions have become a regular feature of Fred’s shows raising over $11,000 for Operation Smile.  This organization does dental surgery like repairing cleft palates on children in impoverished countries.  The surgery costs as little as $245 per child.  That much and more was raised during this show alone.

After the break it was time for the main reason the Eagles Club was packed - Fred Eaglesmith.  I mentioned we have seen him 3 times.  Some people we talked to have seen him over 20 times - they are true Fred-Heads!  Each time we have seen him, it is with a bit different of a backing band, yet the musicianship is consistently high quality.  Fred is well respected in the music industry, but even after decades of touring the world and recording, he is still somewhat of a cult musician.  We suspect it is because he defies categorization - he is one of a kind in the best way.

In recent years his songs have been covered by country superstars Toby Keith, Alan Jackson  and Miranda Lambert. In addition fellow songwriters such as The Cowboy Junkies, Chris Knight, Kasey Chambers, Mary Gauthier, Todd Snider and Dar Williams have all recorded Eaglesmith songs.

Fred’s shows are as much a music performance as they are a comedy show.  Even if he was telling a joke you knew the punch line for, his delivery would have you laughing out loud before he got to the end.  Adding to the fun atmosphere of the night was the fact that many of Fred’s local relatives were in the audience.  He stated he “cleaned up” his language for the night because of their presence.  He gave several acknowledgements  and shared tales about his family life before becoming a musician.

For those of us there, we were very thrilled to have Fred and his band family here in Sarnia.  For those of you who have never seen him, we understand he will most likely be back in about 2 years, so you will get another chance.

To view more photos taken during the evening CLICK HERE

Fred Eaglesmith Travelling Steamshow members are:
Fred J. Eaglesmith - guitars, vocals
Matt Simpson - acoustic guitar, keyboards, vocals
Kori Heppner - drums
Justine Fischer - bass, vocals
Tiffani Ginn - backing vocals & accordian
Mike Zinger - Mandolin, Vocals


Total: 2 Comments

Barb Toye says: May 14, 2022 at 12:50 pm | Reply

So disappointed I could not be at Fred’s concert, but will await his return.

Ron van Wieringen says: December 11, 2021 at 1:54 am | Reply

I Got To See Fred and His Band, Both Nites at the
St. James Hall in Vancouver.
First Was Show Was Very Interesting, Couple of
Young Smart Asses in the Crowd. Fred Tuned Them
Up in Short Order. Both Shows Were Great !
Saw Him Again at The Duncan Folk Fest, Duo
With Tiff, MainStage and in The Chaple, Which Ended
Up Being a More Memorable Closing Ceremony!

Thanx Fred, for All The Great Songs