“We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school.”Bruce Springsteen, No Surrender

Whenever I hear this lyric, and the rest of No Surrender for that matter, I think of one person. Few taught me as much in my high school years than this installment of the Weekend Name Drop. Meet Derek Fraser.

Name: Derek Fraser, a.k.a. Slim Fairchild, a.k.a. Bonus Maximus

Creative field: Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist

Location: Berwick, Nova Scotia, Canada

Best known for: performing as Slim Fairchild; former lead guitarist and vocalist for Jokers Right

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Antonius, Bonus, Cros

My connection: I attended West Pictou District High School with Derek and we played on the same softball team out of Middle River. It was the softball team that first brought us together, a collection of mutual friends, and it, along with music, helped us forge a life-long bond. I was immersed in 80s pop music when we first met, just starting to play guitar. Derek was already an axe-man and introduced me to his muse, Jimi Hendrix. At school, our favourite subject was English and, during lessons on Shakespeare and Margaret Lawrence, we swapped notes with our own language-play: I regurgitated song lyrics while Derek composed poems and sage aphorisms for my amusement and enlightenment. Facebook has reunited us and allowed me to see my old friend in action, still rocking, still writing, still amusing, still enlightening.

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The desk of Derek Fraser

Inspiration for this writer: Have you ever seen the movie, The Sandlot? If I was like Scotty Smalls from the film, then Derek was my Benny Rodriquez. Not because he was a better ball player than me (I’d argue that point), but because Derek was the coolest of the cool kids in a group in which I would form new and deep friendships, and because Derek was instrumental in making me feel I was just as cool as any of them. Together, our band celebrated music, sport, words, women, laughter, brotherhood, life. Nowadays, I see him still rocking and writing and I envy him his fortitude, his devotion to his dream and to his craft, and the integrity with which he approaches these. In our recent conversations, Derek told me:

“The people I admire most are the people who risk everything, the people who are willing to eat fists all day to see their dreams come true. I believe that humility and compassion are the two greatest traits a human can have and I will sit for a thousand years with the excluded masses before I seek the acceptance or approval of any club, group, society, fraternity, union, clique, etc.”

These are the words of an artist with a moral code, a code which reminds, challenges and inspires this writer. I’ve written about other students at our high school who have gone on to success as recording artists, yet none of their music has affected me as much as Derek’s lyrics and guitar-playing.

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Rock on!

Why you should check him out and share with others: What motivates you to listen to a new song or musician? Is it the charts? Is it the hype around the release of a new CD? Is it a television contest or a recommendation by an algorithmic-driven entity like iTunes? Derek has no CD for me to promote. He is not performing with a band at any upcoming gigs. Instead, he has a simple Facebook page where he performs his original material under the name of Slim Fairchild. He is a true singer-songwriter expressing himself with voice and guitar alone. In his words: “Music and art, for me, is a journey of exploration and discovery, perhaps in an effort to fill something within me.” Derek has been writing songs for thirty years, influenced by legends, including Pete Townshend, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Robbie Robertson, Carole King, and more. Check out Derek’s work. Set a spell with him, and find out what this mystic minstrel can offer you.

Sample of work:

From ‘Other Eastern Ways’:

 “… though I slave to my needs,
I do not wallow.
For where rats go,
snakes are sure to follow …”

– D. Fraser

Here’s Derek, himself, playing his song, This is Where the Wind Blows:


Find out more:
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The Weekend Name Drop is a weekly feature on this blog, promoting people I have encountered who are doing creative things.

Antony Millen is a Canadian living and writing in New Zealand. He is the author of three novels: Redeeming Brother Murrihy, Te Kauhanga and The Chain.

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