Posts Tagged ‘Fraser & DeBolt’

Saturday Single No. 657

Saturday, September 7th, 2019

A couple months ago, I wandered over to my friend Jane’s house for a brief meeting. She’s my co-coordinator for music at our Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, and we were making preparations for our annual summertime singalong.

That didn’t take long, as we decided to update and reorganize the informal songbook we’d put together a couple of years ago. And then she and I and her husband, Glen sat and chatted music for a while. I talked a bit about the process a few years ago of winnowing my LPs from 3,000 down to 1,000, and one of them said, “I wish we still had our LPs.”

When they were living in Minneapolis in the 1970s, they said, they were burgled one night. Among the things the thieves took were crates of LPs. Although they’ve replaced some of them, Jane said, they’ve never really tried to replicate the lost collection. I asked if there were one album that stands out that they’ve never been able to replace.

Jane nodded. “The one by Fraser & DeBolt,” she said. “The one with the song “Pure Spring Water.” And she and Glen began to sing the song to each other, one line at a time. When they got to a pause, two things were evident from the looks in their eyes: First, the song mattered deeply to them. Second, it had been a while since they’d sung the song, and they were startled how well they remembered it.

“We sang that at our wedding,” Jane said with a laugh. “Pretty racy for a wedding in the 1970s!”

She added that they’d used the title of the song in their invitations, “asking our friends and relatives to come drink pure spring water with us.” She laughed. “And one of our relatives in Wisconsin said, ‘But you’re gonna have beer, too, right?’”

The names Fraser and DeBolt resonated with me, and when I got home that evening, I headed to the digital stacks. And thereFraser was a copy of Fraser & DeBolt with Ian Guenther, a 1971 release that was the first of the duo’s two albums. And the next-to-last track was “Pure Spring Water.” I have no idea where I initially got it, but as you no doubt know, back in 2006-2007 or so, there were hundreds of blogs offering rips of thousands of albums ranging from the well-known to the utterly obscure. The Fraser & DeBolt album no doubt comes much closer to the latter than the former.

Wikipedia says:

Allan Fraser and Daisy DeBolt met at a workshop at the 1968 Mariposa Folk Festival. Their first words to each other were “I like your voice.”” As DeBolt puts it, Fraser “knocked on the door and that was it, he never left.” Not long after, their budding musical romance found them hitchhiking every day from Toronto to Hamilton, Ontario, to work on material. By the summer of 1969, Fraser & DeBolt was officially formed as a duo.

In 1970 they travelled to the United States on a coffee house circuit tour. During the second week of February, while in upper New York State, they received a message from Ravi Shankar’s manager, Jay K. Hoffman. Hoffman signed them to a management contract, and arranged for Fraser & DeBolt to audition for a recording contract. On April 5, 1970, they opened for Tom Paxton at Fillmore East in New York City. The showcase led to two offers, and the duo were signed to Columbia Records.

Work began in Toronto on their debut album. They were accompanied by the violinist Ian Guenther with production by Craig Allen, who was also the art director for the album cover. On its release in January, 1971, one critic, John Gabree of the magazine High Fidelity, writing in the album’s liner notes, states that it had “moments when the only possible responses are to laugh aloud or to cry, and there are very few aesthetic experiences that genuinely produce those effects.” Reviews appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Free Press and other publications.

And I learned that Daisy DeBolt died in 2011.

After that, I checked on a couple things, learning that the duo’s first album has never been released on CD and that the quality of my rip of the album was pretty crackly. I found videos of the album’s individual tracks at YouTube (and I found a video that offers the duo’s second – and final – album, 1973’s With Pleasure, in full). And I pointed Jane and Glen in the right direction.

And here’s “Pure Spring Water” by Fraser & DeBolt. It’s intimate, it’s quirky, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.