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MP3 Fraser Union - Hello, Stranger

Folk-Roots songs that tell stories, many of them Canadian, some traditional, some a cappella, most accompanied by dobro, guitars, and mandolins.

13 MP3 Songs
FOLK: Urban Folk, FOLK: Political Folk

As with all of Fraser Union''s repertoire, the contents of "Hello Stranger" were chosen carefully over time. Canadian history is represented in the opening track, "Are You From Bevan" (Vancouver Island''s Coal Strike 1912-14) collected by Phil Thomas, and in Bill Gallaher''s "The Last Battle" about the Metis rebellion of 1885. Allister MacGillivray''s "Coal Town Road" tells of the lives of Cape Breton coal miners and Vic Bell''s "Snap the Line Tight" takes us to the West Coast for log salvaging.

That song and most of the others have to do with the ordinary heroics of daily life, of adapting by necessity to the conditions we encounter. Tommy Sands'' "Your Daughters and Your Sons" is an anthem of courage and hope, while Bob Blue''s "Their Way" describes the familiar adaptations required by academic life. These songs are balanced by two well-loved blues standards, "Deep River Blues" and "Trouble in Mind."

"God Speed the Plough," "Aa Cud Hew," and "Chemical Worker''s Song" carry on the theme of working lives. "Walls of Troy" is a too-frequently needed song about the recurrence of war. The album began with a "hello" and closes with a farewell in Celia O''Neill''s "Upon the Road Again."

Song Titles: Are You From Bevan, The Last Battle, The Goodnight-Loving Trail, God Speed the Plough, Deep River Blues, Coal Town Road, Their Way, Trouble in Mind, Your Daughters and Your Sons, Snap the Line Tight, Aa Cud Hew/Chemical Worker''s Song, Walls of Troy, Upon the Road Again

Fraser Union first formed in 1983. The current members have been together since 1987, performing and recording songs that have a great deal of meaning to them and their audiences. Dan Kenning, one of their members, says they tend more towards "songs of content than songs of contentment," but a quick look at the range of music on their recordings, THIS OLD WORLD, FROM THERE TO HERE, HELLO, STRANGER, and SPLIT/SHIFT indicates that Fraser Union are not quickly pigeon-holed.

Many of their songs come from the workplace: "Coal Town Road", "Chemical Worker''s Song", "Woman of Labrador", "Empty Nets" (woes of fishing), "Ships of the Deep" (merchant shipping), "Everything Possible" (child-rearing), "Their Way" (post-secondary teaching), and "The Ghost Program" (computer programming).

Many others tell stories of BC: "Bank Trollers" (about West Coast fishing), "Snap the Line Tight" (log salvaging), "The Ballad of Robert Harkness (about the Cariboo gold rush), "Canning Salmon", "Truck Driver''s Song", "Hard Rock Miner", "Salmon Circle", "Drill Ye Tarriers", "Kettle Valley Line", "When the Tide Goes Out", "The Grand Hotel".

But some tell stories from other times and places: "The Last Battle," about the Métis uprising and the last stand of Louis Riel, "The Goodnight-Loving Trail," about the most valuable member on the cattle drive--the cook, "Augustus and Catherine," about the Overlanders and moving West, and "Lady Franklin’s Lament," about the ill-fated Franklin expedition.

Fraser Union also sings contemporary songs with a bite ("Canaries in the Mine" is about environmental hazards in an aircraft factory; "One Big Highway" is about globalization). Whether on recording or in concert, Fraser Union’s repertoire contains no throw-aways.

Fraser Union have been heard many times on CBC radio: nationally with Max Ferguson and Bill Richardson; locally with Paul Grant, Mark Forsythe, David Grierson, Kathryn Gretsinger, Sheryl MacKay and others.

Fraser Union is Dan Kenning, Henk Piket, Roger Holdstock, and Barry Truter. Their four strong voices present some songs a cappella and others accompanied by a variety of instruments including guitars, mandolins, dobro and banjo. They''ve performed, for example, at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Seattle Folklife Festival, Islands Folk Festival, Mayworks, Winter Roots Festival, the National Conference of Teachers of English, the Working Knowledge Conference at UBC, and countless benefits and coffee houses.

Faith Petric (in The Folknik, San Francisco Folk Music Club, Sept/Oct 2006 Volume XLII, Number 5): "Listening to and singing along with Fraser Union is sheer delight."

Linda Allen, Washington State musician and historian: "Wonderful! Great selection of songs! You all sing about what matters...and thanks for including my song on such an important project."

Bill Gallaher, BC author and songwriter: "If one is going to sing songs that help define the West Coast, it would be hard to find a better collection than these."

Leon Rosselson, UK songwriter and musician: "Your version of World Turned Upside Down will make a worthy addition to my collection - unvarnished, unadorned. Which is what I like about your treatment of all the songs - respecting the words and letting them speak for themselves."

Barry Rathburn (5 November 2007) - Qualicum, BC

"I just wanted to say that I bought all three of your CDs. Loaded them up in the CD player and enjoyed them immensely. I really enjoy the west coast flavour. Your songs really capture the essence of BC life. Thank you."

Gaylene Lueger (4 August, 2005) - in response to hearing Fraser Union singing "Canning Salmon" live on CBC Radio

"I loved both your CDs (very, very much!) Looking forward to the Canning Salmon one in the Fall. Telling people where I work how wonderful you guys are! Keep up the good music!"

Robert Rodriquez (in The Folknik, e-zine of the San Francisco Folk Music Club, November/December 2003 Volume XXXIX, Number 6)

"Fraser Union knows how to pick and deliver a song: good harmonies; direct, evocative, and powerful lyrics; and songs with content. Their songs are about places far and remote as well as close to home, times past and gone as well as up-to-date, and issues that trouble one''s thoughts and tweak otherwise impervious hearts and consciences. From There To Here deserves a lot of praise ...."

Laurie Postans'' review of From There To Here (in BC Folklore magazine, Issue 16, January 2002)

"The songs are delivered with gusto, conviction and often humour, to their own accompaniment of acoustic guitars, mandolin and octave mandolin. [They] illustrate the ability of Fraser Union to move comfortably between widely different types of material - from quiet ballads to rabble-rousing anthems to satiric humour that leaves the audience calling for more. There are no throw-away numbers on this CD - each song is powerful, with the substance of real life."

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