Meeting in 2012 via a chance YouTube sighting and fueled by a once-in-a-lifetime musical chemistry and friendship, Canadian-American Roots-Folk duo Dan Frechette and Laurel Thomsen are “prodigious players with songwriting that sets them apart.” Now touring in support of their recently released fourth album, Driving By Candlelight, they combine soaring violin, diverse guitar styles, compelling storytelling, a dash of harmonica and humor, and unique vocal rapport for a dynamic, engaging, polished performance.
Based in Northern California, Dan and Laurel’s third album, Between the Rain, was top ten on Canada’s campus radio Roots charts for 2016. Touted for being both “lyrically refreshing and musically diverse,” they have toured North America extensively, playing everything from Home Routes house concert tours of the Canadian Prairies, to headlining spots at the Listening Room Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida, BBC Radio in Liverpool, UK, Canada’s definitive Winnipeg Folk Festival, and opening up for The Wailin’ Jennys at a sold out theater in Grass Valley, California. In 2017 they made their European debut, including concerts in Ireland, the UK, Denmark, France, and Germany. In late 2018 they released their fourth album as a duo. Spanning the range of Roots based genres, Driving By Candlelight is the consummate showcase of their unique fusion of backgrounds, perspectives, and influences with 13 new original songs “pondering contemporary subject matter with vintage sensibility.”
Beyond the synchronicity of their meeting, Dan and Laurel’s backgrounds, musical palates, and even their personalities, make both an unexpected and extraordinary match. Fans note the sense that one is witnessing an outpouring of color, creativity, and artistry far more textured than the sum of its parts. Though each artist had a drastically different style of musical training and were influenced by contrasting musical backgrounds, their commensurate dedication, experience, and the ways in which they inspire each other to grow and evolve musically, make Dan and Laurel a dynamic and unstoppable team. It also helps them craft concerts which offer a bit of something for everyone and it’s not unusual for the duo to hear that they turned someone who doesn’t typically like “folk music,” or “songs with vocals,” or “original music,” or “instrumentals,” or “violin music” or “acoustic music,” etc. into a fan who plans to go out and support live music more frequently. That’s an incredible feeling!
Recognized for their musical talents as children, Dan and Laurel each began performing, teaching, writing, and making their livings as musicians as teenagers. Both have enjoyed over 20 years as full time musicians, recording artists, and music educators, and have gathered broad influences along the way, ranging from Folk-Rock, Classical, Old Time and Celtic, to Gospel, Jazz, Vintage Country, Rock n’ Roll, Blues, Ragtime, and Bluegrass. Dan and Laurel flow seamlessly through genres, tempos, stories, and moods, embodying each style with virtuosic command and keeping music fans on the edge of their seats. Enjoyment is palpable!
If music could incarnate in human form, it might just be Dan Frechette. Anyone who observes the Canadian entertainer, multi-instrumentalist, gifted impressionist, and prolific singer-songwriter quickly recognizes that he lives and breathes music. With over 1400 original songs across an impressive range of acoustic genres, not to mention the volumes of wide ranging cover material he literally has at his fingertips, Dan was signed to EMI publishing at age 17 with a bursting catalogue of over 500 original songs already to his credit. Since 1992 he has gone on to release over 40 albums of original material, and has been performing high-energy, soulful concerts throughout North America and Europe ever since. Dan’s prolific output, distinctive voice, and grassroots career path have led many luminaries to sing his songs and share their stages. Dan has opened for the likes of Dar Williams, Richard Thompson, Ron Sexsmith, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, and Iian Matthews of Fairport Convention. “Dan Frechette has never written a song I don’t like” says Ismaila Alfa of CBC Radio. Dan’s songs have been featured in movies and covered by artists around the world, including Ireland’s Dervish, Australia’s The Ploughboys, and Canada’s The Duhks for which he penned their hit singles “The Mists of Down Below” and “You Don’t See It.” Before teaming up with Laurel, Dan had already played most of the major North American folk festivals over the course of his solo career, including the Winnipeg, Edmonton, Mariposa, and Stan Rogers Festivals, and the Suwanee Springfest. He is considered one of Canada’s iconic performers on acoustic guitar and harmonica, inspiring the career paths of many up-and-coming singer-songwriters now also touring internationally.
Laurel Thomsen, a California genre-bending violinist and violist, composer, author, and educator, has performed Classically and with a variety of bands and artists since she was a child. With a warm and resonant violin tone and an eloquent playing style that can both rock a solo or take a supportive role with atmosphere, texture, and groove, Laurel is frequently sought for her ability to add depth to diverse styles of music, both in the studio and on stage. Once dubbed “The Hookmeister” by one California Bay Area recording engineer (a hook being a catchy musical motif in this instance), her knack for creating infectious melodies has saved more than one songwriter’s song from the chopping block. A composer since childhood, and an emerging songwriter and singer with a “remarkable singing voice” and “fascinating undertones and range,” Laurel’s writing explores emotion, empowerment, and life’s deeper questions. Passionate about not only sharing her music in performance, but also helping others find their musical expression, she is a longtime Strings magazine contributor, the author of several multi-media guides and courses on string playing technique, including her popular Complete Vibrato Mastery course now with well over 1000 students in over 50 countries, the creator and host of the popular Violin Geek Podcast, and as reported on the front page of the New York Times, since the age of 14 she has been an enthusiastic private, Skype, and workshop lessons instructor to dedicated violin, viola, and fiddle students around the world.
Dan and Laurel are quickly finding their niche on the North American and European folk circuits. However, hard work and dedication are only a facet of their relationship; as those who meet and hear them soon discover, “there is something incredibly romantic about these two and the way that their love story is told through their music.” Whether refueling back home, or creating their home on the road at various tour stops around the globe, it’s clear to people who witness these two that their harmony extends well beyond the notes.