Even as a small boy, Doug embraced his love for music. He began writing his own songs at the age of 9, but truly found his passion at age 12 when his father handed him his first guitar. It wasn't until Doug was in his early 20's, however, that he felt the "calling" to pursue his music full time. That calling came in the form of an encouraging encounter with his long-time idol, Mr. Willie Nelson. With an affirming handshake and a gentle nod of approval from Willie, Doug received his blessing and he saw the path that lay before him.
As a music major, Doug attended college at the University of Texas while he cut his teeth on some of the many great Austin stages, and eventually maintained a consistent regional touring schedule with his band. During that time, he was fortunate to be mentored by some of the most seasoned road dogs in the business who helped him learn the importance and the power of a great live performance. After living in Austin for nine years, Doug made the move to Nashville to focus on songwriting. He felt it was necessary for his craft that he live in a city where he could be fully immersed with the greatest writers in the world. That move to Nashville proved to be one of the best decisions he could have made for that chapter of his career, and for three straight years Doug kept his nose to the grindstone and learned all he could from the masters. He gained exponential growth as a writer, artist, performer, and businessman during this time, but all the while his heart kept a tight hold to his Texas roots. Eventually Doug decided to follow the beckoning of his home land and packed his bags for Texas. He got settled in Houston, but after playing in the Bayou City for nearly two years and earning a solid local reputation, Doug was still in search of a place where he felt "at home." As fate would have it, that home ended up being a unique little city called New Braunfels. Nestled at the edge of the beautiful Hill Country, it was here that Doug discovered a wonderful community filled with people who love making original music, listening to live Americana shows, and supporting the local musicians as if they were family. It was in this town that Doug finally started to see the full potential of his efforts and all the tools he had gained over the past decade. This is where it all came together for him.
Since living in New Braunfels, Doug has written volumes of new material inspired from his journey and others that have crossed his path. A handful of these songs are showcased on his latest EP, “It Must Be Love,” which was recorded in Austin with legendary string man Geoff Queen as the producer and multi-instrumentalist (Hayes Carll, Bruce Robison, Kelly Willis, Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers), along with Clint Simmons (Ryan Beaver, Dawn & Hawkes) on drums, and the talented Joe Beckham as the engineer.
1. How old were you when you played your first musical instrument and what was it?
I started out on piano. My dad put me in lessons early on, but I wasn't exactly a shining star for my teacher. At one recital in particular, the other children were introduced with a listing of all their awards and accomplishments for the year, and then they went on to perform Mozart and Bach or whoever else for the their doting parents. When it was my turn however, there were no accomplishments to share with the audience. It was just, "And next up...is...ummm...Doug." I then proceeded to play "On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson. I think I was around 9 years old. True story.
2. How old were you when you fell in love with playing music and when did you decide that music was your calling? What aspects of your surroundings, mentors or supporters helped influence that decision?
I've always loved music - especially writing music. My childhood piano teacher eventually came to the conclusion that I was different from the other children. So instead of forcing me to practice songs that I didn't want to learn, she allowed me to write my own music for the piano. But I think the moment that I really fell in love with music was when I got my first guitar at the age of twelve. I began practicing and writing immediately and never stopped. While other kids were playing video games and worrying about whether or not their moms remembered to take the crust of their sandwiches, I was making music. As much as I loved playing music, I don't think I felt it to be a "calling" so to speak until I met Willie Nelson. I was in my early twenties and it changed my life forever. The story itself of how I came to meet him isn't that interesting to hear, but the powerful wave of emotion that come over me while his steel blue eyes pierced into my own, felt like he was giving me his blessing. It was as if he was silently telling me to chase my musical rainbow and never look back. And ever since that day, I've done just that. That is one of my most precious memories.
3. Where did you grow up and where all have you lived before finding yourself in New Braunfels Texas?
Well I've moved around a bit. I grew up on the south side of Irving - just west of the Oak Cliff area of Dallas (where Stevie Ray Vaughn grew up). After graduating high school, I moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas. It was during college that I truly fell in love with County Music, and began cutting my teeth on some of the many great stages there in town. Undoubtedly, my grades suffered because of it. I continued to live in Austin after I graduated from U.T. and I toured regionally with my band. I stayed there for a total of 9 years.
After that I moved to Nashville for 3 years where I focused nearly all of my effort on songwriting. I've always aimed to be the best songwriter that I can be, so it was only natural for me to go to a city where I could be surrounded by the best writers in the world. That turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made. I experienced exponential growth as a writer, artist, performer, and businessman.
I loved living in Nashville, but my heart was aching to be back in my native Texas. So after a trip to Houston to visit with some friends, I made the last minute decision to skip my flight back to Tennessee and become a Texas resident again. I played shows around Houston for 18 months before moving to New Braunfels. I needed a smaller, slower town filled with people who loved Country/Americana music as much as I do, and I've never felt more at home that I do right now!
4. What are some of the most influential places that you've lived as far as your music career and why were they so important in your stepping stones to being where you are now?
The Austin music scene taught me the importance of live performance. That town has some of the most seasoned road dogs in the business, and I was fortunate to learn countless do's and don'ts from working with them.
Nashville helped me grow closer to becoming the writer that I've always wanted to be. I learned how to harness my interest in other genres such as soul, pop, and rock music, and cultivate that into a large swath of fodder that I can use to fuel the creative flame in my own writing. That town is filled to the brim with a truly stunning level of talent that encompasses the entire musical spectrum!
After moving back to Texas, I feel like things are starting to come together for me internally. I'm finally starting to see the full potential of all the tools that I've gained over the past decade or so. I built some great relationships in Houston that are still helping me today. My time there was brief, but I'm grateful for all of the support I've gotten from that area. New Braunfels has shown me that it's easier to stay driven toward success if I periodically take stock of how far I've come and how many positive things I have in both my professional and personal life. Sometimes the best thing any of us can do is crack open a beer and stick our feet in the river!
5. What artists would you say influence your music and songwriting and why?
This type of question is always difficult for me to answer. I have a very diverse scope of influences, and it's often impossible for me to tell which artists affected me in what ways. So how about I answer this by sharing some of my favorite records? Deal? (These are in no particular order)
- Redheaded Stranger, Willie Nelson
- Graceland, Paul Simon
- Thriller, Michael Jackson
- Rumors, Fleetwood Mac
- Nebraska, Bruce Springsteen
- Heartbreaker, Ryan Adams
I'm not sure if that's helpful at all, but this is the level of writing that I strive toward, and I feel like there are glimmers of their influence in some of my songs...I sure hope so!
6. Your fans relate to not only the music that you play but the meaning behind the songs. What would you say most fans relate to most in your songwriting and why OR what kind of "medicine" do you feel that your music brings to your listeners?
There is a fine line between songs that convey genuine emotion and songs that make people feel better. I think my fans appreciate that I not only share the same heart aches and tribulations that they do, but also that I offer them a chance to not think about those things. George Jones said it best, "When you're happy you enjoy the music, but when you're sad, you understand the lyrics." That's something that I keep in mind with my writing, and I think my fans appreciate that.
7. What are some of the most memorable/badass venues you've played and who are some of the coolest cats you've had the pleasure of working with in your music career so far?
Early in my musical development before I started performing as a songwriter, I was a part of a choral group that was invited to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York City. I still have a hard time fathoming the history in that theater, and I'm truly humbled to be even a microscopic part of it's story.
While living in Austin, I went to the Grand Ole Opry to see my friend Sunny Sweeney perform. Her guitar player that night was Casper Rawls. Casper is not only one of the nicest guys in the music business, but he's also one of the most talented musicians I've ever had the pleasure to hear. And he also has the rare distinction as having played guitar for Buck Owens! That night before the audience was allowed inside, I got to stand center stage of the Grand Ole Opry with Casper's guitar that was held on my shoulder with Buck Owens' strap. It took my breath away!
I've also performed at Gruene Hall, Kerrville Folk Festival, Bass Concert Hall, and great listening rooms like The Cactus Cafe and Poor David's Pub.
8. If you had to put your music into a genre (and you can combine or make up your own) what would it be labeled?
These days it seems like Americana is the catch-all term that covers all of the bases for most similar writers and artists, and I suppose it works for me as well. Some of my songs are straight-up country and some of them are undeniably pop (albeit blue collar). At the end of the day though, I don't care what category fits best. All I care about is writing the best songs that I can, and working hard to share my music with those who want to hear it.
9. Tell us about your band...who are they, what do they play and how did you meet them?
I’ve got a great group of players that I call on when I play a full-band show. Sometimes the line-up changes, but the team is always solid. That’s another one of the perks about living in New Braunfels – the legendary Austin talent pool is only a short drive away.
10. Tell us about your new EP...(what is it about, how did you come up with the name, how did the songs come about, who/what helped influence this record, who have you worked with on it and how/when will it be released)
Drum roll please!....It’s about love. Never saw that coming did you? Nearly all of the country songs ever written are about love in some form or another, and I love country music. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
I’m a big fan of the concept records from the 70’s & 80’s. I like how the entire album could have different songs, of course, but still maintain one complete thought throughout the record. That’s what I attempted to do with my EP. In six songs, I take the listener from puppy love, to true love, to marriage, to heartbreak, to being a single parent, and finally to being a bit pissed off and not caring what the world thinks about it.
All of the tracks were recorded at Joe Beckham’s Birdhouse Recordings in Austin, TX with Geoff Queen as the producer and multi-instrumentalist. Geoff has played guitar and/or pedal steel for Hayes Carll, Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis, Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers, Sunny Sweeney, Bonnie Bishop, and many more. He’s one of the most talented guys I know, and I consider myself very fortunate to have had the chance to work with him on this project.
Additionally, Clint Simmons played the drums/percussion for all of the tracks (Ryan Beaver, Dawn & Hawkes). Clint is a beast! He’s a total pro in every way, and still love listening to his playing on these tracks.