May 28, 2024

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Interview with Doug MacLeod: Raw Blues – Honesty Feeling: Video, new CD cover

Interview with Blues guitarist Doug MacLeod. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Doug MacLeod: – Well let’s see. I grew up in three parts of the country. North Carolina, New York area, and St. Louis MO. I got interested in music on the radio. My mother told me when I was 3 or so that our neighbor in NC played Louis Jordan music rather loud. His music room and my baby room shared a wall. She was worried if her baby boy was getting any sleep in his crib. She looked in. My eyes were closed but my foot was tapping to the music. So as my mother said, ‘Louis Jordan was my first musical influence’.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

I think I realized it was a passion after the abuse I had as kid and the subsequent stutter I got. I was shutting down and then music came along, I could express myself, and that changed things.

When did I realize I could make a living to this? I don’t know if there was specific time. I just knew it was I wanted to do and had to do.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

DM: – Well I started out as an acoustic player playing blues during the folk boom of the mid to late 60’s in Tidewater VA. Then I went to electric blues with a band for 4 albums. Then back to acoustic ever since 1994. I believe you look inside yourself to find your sound. It is what you like, not what you think you supposed to like. You just got to let it come out. My rule of thumb is “If it sounds good it is good, if it sounds bad, it is bad.” That simple.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

DM: – I really haven’t developed any in that sense of the word. I just play the guitar. Sometimes watching baseball with the sound down.

As far as my musical proficiency- that’s my hands. My left hand pinky is deformed so I’m really a three finger fingering picker. Been that way for about 12 years so I’ve had to find new tunings for songs and different ways to play things.

My right hand? I have no idea honestly what my right is doing and to be honest, I don’t think I want to know! 🙂 I know it just does it.

I don’t use picks. An ol bluesman named Ernest Banks asked why I was using picks? I said to be louder. He said, ‘why you want to put something between your soul and your guitar?’. ‘Just play harder boy’. Never used picks again!

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

DM: – Oh sure. With my song writing I’m really trying to make the songs/message more concise. Guitar wise. Just playing what I hear and feel. And trusting that. And remembering these sayings, “ Taste and Space” and “When In Doubt, Leave It Out.”

JBN: – How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

DM: – If I can a short 20 minute nap helps with that. If there’s no time for that I pull away for 10 seconds or so and say what my manager Miki told me what Luther Allison would say before he played. I say it before every performance now. “Leave your ego, play the music, and love the people.”

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2023: Doug MacLeod – Raw Blues 1, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

DM: – It was alot of fun doing it. Just sitting down in front of the mics and playing. Andreas Werner the producer just said, ‘Sit and play what ever comes, like you on your porch.’ We did. Andreas is a pleasure to work with. There will be a Raw Blues 2 coming down the line and me and Andreas are working on a new album that we’ll be recording sometime early next year.

Buy from here – New CD 2023

JBN: – How did you select the musicians who play on the album?

DM: – You must be talking about ‘A Soul To Claim’ because Raw Blues 1 is just me. Is that right?

I didn’t pick the musicians. Jim Gaines the producer did. And Jim knew just what my music needed. Steve Potts, Dave Smith, Rick Steff…….. damn good musicians!

JBN: – Can you share any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions over the years?

DM: – Well with all my years you’re asking for alot there! :-).

There are just too many and I don’t know if could write them any way near as good as I can tell them.

We are in talks about recording my stores about the blues men and women I was with. More on that to come.

JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

DM: – I don’t think intellect should get in the way of soul, but every once in a while I think more soul in intellect would be a good thing

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

DM: – Are you kidding? I’m more than OK. You go back to what I said earlier.

Luther’s saying, “Leave your ego, play the music, and love the people.” That says it all right there!

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

DM: – Being a blues musician, I’m not sure I’m the guy to answer this but………..my two cents. Maybe do what the jazz musicians did in those days? Take the popular music and make jazz versions of it?

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

DM: – Well I think everybody comes here with a gift. And thing to do is give your gift whatever it might be. Musician, Mechanic, Plummer, Farmer. Whatever. Be the best you can be at what you came here to do.

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

DM: – Making streaming payments more fair.

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

DM: – Kenny Burrell, Cornell Dupree. The Temptations, Tony Joe White, Jimmy Reed, Jimmy McGriff, Ray Bryant, and Ahmed Jamal.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

DM: – Kansas City in 1941 to hear the music of Kansas City at night, eat BBQ, and in the afternoon watch the Kansas City Monarchs with Satchel Paige pitching.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

DM: – Honesty Feeling.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

JBN: – Do You like our questions? So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…

DM: – You questions are fine. But I’m afraid I don’t have any questions. 🙂

JBN: – Thank you for your answers!

JBN: – Have you ever given a free concert during your entire concert career? At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?

DM: – Yes I have. Expectations? Well, maybe introduce me and my music to some new folks.

Interview by Emmanuel Bolton

Note: https://jazzbluesnews.com/2023/03/19/useu-jazz-blues-association-festivals/ You can express your consent and join our association, which will give you the opportunity to perform at our Jazz and Blues festivals, naturally receiving an appropriate royalty. We cover all expenses. The objectives of the interview are: How to introduce yourself, your activities, thoughts and intellect, and make new discoveries for our US/EU Jazz & Blues Association, which organizes festivals, concerts and meetings in Boston and various European countries, why not for you too!! You can read more about the association here. https://jazzbluesnews.com/2022/11/19/useujba/

Doug MacLeod | Reference Recordings®

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