MARILYN HAGERTY: Musician Tom Brosseau talks about his career, his longing to return to Grand Forks
Tom Brosseau is described in Wikipedia, the internet encyclopedia, as an American storyteller and guitarist born and raised in Grand Forks.
In August, he will be on his way to Bristol, England. There with John Parish recording, he will do an album with a theme of fear of abandonment. It’s the story called “Hard Luck Boy,” about a child abandoned in a shopping mall.
The recording will come out in January.
This week, Brosseau is in Grand Forks for his annual summer visit at the home of his parents, Dr. James and Jolene Brosseau.
Now 37, Brosseau has a hauntingly beautiful high-pitched voice. And, at this point in time, he feels good about what he does.
“Maybe,” he said over a coffee the other day, “I would have felt frustration, worried over success and failure 10 years ago.”
Then he said he would tell himself, “Toughen up. This is what you do.”
He writes. He gathers ideas as he observes life around him. He’s kind of a quiet person. He tries to remain open to ideas from what is happening.
Brosseau rides the buses in Los Angeles, where he headquarters. “This is how I get a lot of my ideas,” he said.
He always has loved music. His grandmother, the late Gladys Brosseau of Drayton, N.D., taught him to sing “Chiquita Banana.” His great grandfather Buck Brosseau of Bowesmont, N.D., had a band called Buck and the Buccaneers. His uncle, Jon Brosseau, Drayton, is a retired lawyer well known as a pianist.
Tom Brosseau was in high school here when he started singing in open mike sessions at Urban Stampede.
He loves to read poetry. He reads the Bible, religious books, science fiction.
Brosseau has performed with John C. Reilly & Friends and made a Grand Forks appearance with them. As a Fat Cat Records artist he has toured and performed in the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan and Taiwan.
Brosseau is looking forward to appearing with a folk group headed by actor John C. Reilly on July 25 in the Folk Festival in Newport, R.I.
And he will make an appearance the night before at Providence, R.I.
Brosseau has recorded several folk albums. His first, “Tom Brousseau,” was released on a San Diego label called “Bed Pan” in 2001. His latest, “Grass Punks,” was released by Crossbill Records. It was produced by Sean Watkins, part of the bluegrass band Nickel Creek.
His albums all are available through iTunes under “Tom Brosseau.”
Brosseau graduated from UND in 1999 and went on to get a master’s degree in non-fiction writing at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
His interests range to the history of the acoustical guitar, the woods, the procedures. Brosseau listens to music all the time — especially folk music. And he buys music dating back to the 1920s and 1930s.
He would like some day to marry, have children and settle down in Grand Forks.
It’s all down the road. When all is said and done, he believes this is where he belongs. One of his favorite recordings, “Grand Forks,” was done after the 1997 disaster here.
“This is my home,” he said. “I feel like it is my fate to come back here and live in North Dakota.”