Singer/songwriter Nathan Frazer has something to sing about these days. With a new album out, “Songs from Gunn Town,” gigs lined up for the summer and a family to raise, he is keeping busy. Topping that off, Frazer just attended Steve Earle’s songwriting camp in New York, and out of 80 people, was one of a few who played a song for Earle.
Frazer began learning music in 1993 while playing in the high school band at East Central School. He had a garage band that mostly played punk and grunge. Frazer’s style evolved over the years and he now plays alternative country and songs that reflect the people and places of East Central Minnesota.
“Music is something I’ve always loved, and when I was a kid I liked singing. This is something I have always wanted to do,” recalled Frazer, who is a self-taught musician.
His new album, “Songs from Gunn Town,” is hometown inspired, and its title song was written in response to someone commenting they wanted to bulldoze some of the houses on the way to the golf course in Sandstone.
It used to be bands like Nirvana and Beatles that originally inspired Frazer. Now it tends to be more folk music. He also gets inspiration from his wife, Amy, and has written quite a few love songs, he said.
Though Frazer has tried to codify how he is inspired to write music, by phases in the moon or something else, he has determined sometimes there is no rhyme or reason. He does admit that other artists inspire him.
“I’m in the middle of a huge creative spurt right now. I’m self critical and they have to pass through my own filter and my own ethos of staying with the genre,” said Frazer. He enjoys playing other people’s music but does his own thing with his own spin on existing songs. “I have to be able to identify with a song. It is the same with song writing; I have to be able to identify with the lyrics.”
Frazer now lives in the house he grew up in taking care of a niece and nephew. Along with caring for his sister’s children, Frazer and Amy have two children, ages 10 and 5.
His experience with family has helped him grow as a person and musician. “You can look at it as a living hell or a learning experience,” said Frazer. “It has helped me become more patient. You can fight it, like I did for a couple years, but when you accept it and go with where life is taking you, it’s much easier.”
For the future, Frazer plans to keep playing and writing songs, along with his regular job as operations lead for Nemadji Research in Bruno. “If I’m not actively creating some things, I’m working on an existing piece or trying to refine poetry. My creativity comes on completely random; sometimes it’s a phrase or word,” said Frazer.
He also plans to keep serving on the board of directors at the Old School Arts Center in Sandstone. “The arts are one of the cornerstones of our culture, and it’s important to support the arts in our community,” said Frazer. “It’s just as imperative as the big media artistic endeavors.”
Frazer also spends time playing music for the church he attends, Grace Lutheran Church in Sandstone.
Songs from his CD, “Songs from Gunn Town,” can be found in iTunes and Google Music.
Frazer is performing at engagements throughout the summer and on September 8 he will be on the Songwriter Showcase at 7 p.m. on KBEK 95.9. He can also be found on a number of Sunday mornings playing at Grace/Emmanuel Lutheran Church services at 9 a.m. and 11:40 a.m.
Catch Nathan Frazer at an upcoming show:
•July 14, Bears Den, Bruno, 8 p.m.-midnight, with The A.M. Band
• July 15, Moose Lake Art in the Park, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., with Jeff Gilbertson and Kody Gerard
• July 22, The Hacienda in Superior, Wisconsin, 4-7, with The A.M. Band
• July 29, Pine County History Museum, Askov, 1 p.m., with The A.M. Band
• August 11, Sandstone’s Quarry Days, Train Park, 6-8 p.m.
• August 18, Bears Den, 8 p.m.-midnight with The A.M. Band
• August 20, Carlton Daze, 3 p.m., with Colleen Myhre
• August 25, Askov’s Rutabaga Festival, 8-11 p.m. with The A.M. Band
• September 9, Bears Den, 8 p.m.-midnight, with The A.M. Band
• October 13, Bears Den, 8 p.m.-midnight, with The A.M. Band