Thomas Fraser was born in Burra Isle, Shetland (a remote Scottish Island) in 1927. A natural, he quickly learned to yodel, play fiddle and later, the guitar. Funds from his occupation as a fisherman were used to purchase a reel to reel tape recorder shortly after electricity arrived to the isle in 1953. What took place then has since been called one of the most remarkable stories in recording history. Thomas painstakingly recorded thousands of his favourite country, blues, traditional and jazz tunes. His unique vocal style, obvious passion for music and brilliant character was tempered by an intensely shy demeanour. As a result, Thomas's work was largely performed to his immediate family and own four walls.
Working alone in his lobster boat and tending to the croft, Thomas had a typically hard life. During the 1970s, bad luck and ill-health contributed to two accidents at sea. Sadly, Thomas passed away in January 1978 aged only 50. Shortly before his death, Thomas confided that he "did not have long to go" and asked his nephew to look after the reels, remarking in jest, "who knows, maybe someday I will be famous!". Exactly twenty five years later, Thomas's statement was to become strangely prophetic. The CD 'Long Gone Lonesome Blues' was released to great critical acclaim and at last, Thomas got some of the recognition his talent had so richly deserved.
Long Gone Lonesome Blues' was a project three years in the making and a quarter century overdue. The collection of songs, drawing from the true original country & blues styles falls hot on the heels of a resurgence in old-time country music.
What is startling about this collection is it's authenticity and the sheer passion poured into each track. Yet, there is much more to the CD than that. Here is a release with a story to tell - an amazing story of undiscovered talent and long-lost music unearthed in the attics of a remote Shetland island community.
The name Thomas Fraser is steeped in legend. A fisherman, a crofter - ordinary you might say - yet he left a stunning legacy: 1000s 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 country and blues styles and his passion was the guitar.
The special limited edition CD is one of the most talked about stories in years.
"I really love it when something comes from way out of left field - something really interesting and quirky. I think the CD is great and I love to imagine the man there in his croft house in Shetland singing the railroad blues into an old Grundig tape recorder for the sheer love and dedication to his music" - Mike Harding, BBC Radio 2
"What a fascinating collection of recordings - close your eyes and you are listening to Thomas's mix of blues & country sung with his unique, clear voice experiencing all the hurt, fun & sentiment of these early songs. Hank William's 'Long Gone Lonesome Blues is so authentic you can feel the hurt. This CD is an important piece of music history. Not only is it a terrific collection of early country songs but to discover that this wonderful talent was hidden away, only known to his local Shetlanders, greatly adds to its importance" - Country Music & Dance Magazine
"His guitar playing swings just like it should and the sound of the big Levin is just right. But his voice is really outstanding. A couple of tracks might even have an expert wondering if they were Jimmie Rodgers outtakes; but he's not a mimic. He performs the songs with immense energy and sounds like he's living every word - FolkRoots Magazine, June 2003