McDougall’s CD release show – March 24th 2012 at Secret Society Ballroom

With Water Tower (formerly Water Tower  Bucket Boys) and Henry Hill Kammerer (of Hillstomp).


On March 24, 2012, Portland, Oregon-based Americana/folk-rock one man band McDougall will celebrate the release of his sixth full-length, A Few Towns More, at Secret Society Ballroom.

Doors at 8pm, show at 9pm.  Tickets are $8.00 advance and at the door.  Also on the bill are Water Tower (formerly Water Tower Bucket Boys) and Henry Hill Kammerer (of Hillstomp).

On the title track to A Few Towns More, McDougall sings, “The road you chose might take you back to your front door, but it looks like mine’s gonna take me on a few towns more.”  Telling the story of touring, human interaction, and sharing in life’s adventures, McDougall sums up his album on the final track, discussing the isolation and loneliness of touring alone, while also singing it’s praises, meeting new friends and new adventures in cities he plays.

“It’s the title track and the final track on the album,” McDougall says of A Few Towns More.  “It’s a song that portrays how lonely and yet totally amazing it can be touring alone.  The loneliness you face sometimes is all worth it as you spend each night sharing songs with people and making friends out of strangers.”

Equal parts folk, Americana, and old-time country, McDougall’s music conjures up images of sitting by a coffee-can fire in the middle of a dry California river-bed that then pulls you up on a freight train that travels through the lush spring-time of the Pacific Northwest, with you ending up rambling around the country with all your possessions on your back.

McDougall wishes to keep to the unwritten rule of using what was left by those before while leaving something of your own for those who come after, as you exemplifies on A Few Towns More, an album that prevails with a message of hope throughout every journey.

“As with all of my albums, there is an underlying message of hope.  This one also deals with the responsibility each one of us has to take what we learn in life and share it with others, to find that place where we know we belong and can do the most good,” McDougall says, summarizing the album’s lyrical themes.

A ten-track collection of dusty-trail Americana, it is hard to imagine that A Few Towns More is pulled off as a one-man-band live, McDougall handling either the guitar and banjo, while also playing percussion with his feet.

“I dig that when listening to [the album] you sometimes forget that most of it is one guy,” McDougall beams.  “I try hard to find a balance between getting creative in the production realm and trying to produce something that can be repeated live with the same intensity.  I think we found a good balance on this record.”

Whether it’s the opener, “Coleraine,” a banjo-driven clap-and-stomp chant piece that wears its hymn-like vibe on its sleeve.  Or the rambling rock of “Ready, Begin,” in which McDougall sings, “time for living, you know, moving and thinking.  I felt the bitter cold air make me high.  On your mark, get set, and back to the task.  Before all your chances change their colors and die,” McDougall creates mood-elevating, hopeful songs that remind you that you’re alive.

McDougall turns it down a few notches on the moonlit folk of “Evening Tide,” a ragged, yet mellow acoustic number that finds McDougall in a contemplative state.  The high-impact banjo dance number “Cuttin’ the Grass/Tom and Willy Go To Town” is an instrumental that will make you get up and move, while creating the perfect soundtrack for the should-have-been theme song for the Oregon Trail.  Abound with promise and adventure, even without words, McDougall can elicit feelings of a new life and excitement.

On the gospel-folk of “When God Dips His Love In My Heart” McDougall challenges himself on this traditional number that his mother used to sing with his grandparents when she was a kid.

“Gates of Victory,” with group vocals from various Portland-area musician friends, will have you singing along to the chorus, which rings with the words, “Looking to those who have humbly walked before us.  They taught us how to live and they taught us how to die.”

“[The song] is about following solid examples of those who walked before us,” exclaims McDougall.

Recorded in a barn during a Washington winter, at times McDougall found it too cold to even play his banjo.  But he persevered and made it through, proud of what he’s accomplished with A Few Towns More.  Now all McDougall has to do is hit the road and play these songs for fans, new and old alike, while hoping they find the songs encouraging, engaging, and fun.  With artwork from Modesto-based folk-singer/tattoo artist Roy Dean, A Few Towns More is rooted in traditional, better meant for your stereo, with artwork in your hands, than your MP3 player.  However, McDougall will take listeners any way we can get them.

And, as he sings on “A Few Towns More,” “As we sing together each night in each town, old friends and new in the same room all let their problems down.  And with our hands, feet, and voices proclaim, that every day doesn’t have to be the same,” McDougall hopes that his album will help you break up the monotony of every day life, helping you relax and enjoy yourself.

Jack Wilson to release debut, self-titled full-length CD March 6th on Fluff & Gravy Records.

On March 6, 2012, Portland, Oregon-based Fluff & Gravy Records will release the debut, self-titled full-length from Austin, Texas-based folk-pop songwriter Jack Wilson.  His debut bridges the gap between the folk-rock of Seattle (where he began his career as a full-time musician) and the acoustic music prevalent in Austin.
“Somewhere, in the blending, is the sound of the record,” says Wilson, a little ambiguous when he talks about his music, but focused on describing it as best he can.  “Whatever you might call it; my sound, well, it’s that blend.”

Jack Wilson; photo Courtesy of Fluff & Gravy Records

Wilson, a songsmith able to pull off his live performances solo, or with a full-on rock band, says that is what he set out to do with this release.

The result is the eleven tracks that comprise the album.  Jumping from the nineteen electric guitars found on “The Cure,” a full-on rock number complete with a horn section, or the subdued, late-night folk of “The Truth,” the album travels the spectrum without sounding out-of-place, sloppy, or without direction.
From album opener “Valhalla,” a love song about dreaming and keeping watch over a sleeping loved one, through “I’ll Do the Same,” about meeting an old flame many years down the line, Wilson weavers tales and melodies into earnest indie-Americana.  There is the chilling indie-folk of “Red Feather,” haunting you with a slow melody, about a winter night in Seattle, seeing the good-luck bringing Red-feathered Cardinals, and the country-rock of “Black Hills Fiction,” a three part narrative about the huge humanitarian disaster that was the Black Hills Gold Rush, told by a native, a prospector, and a soldier.  Wilson is able to tell stories, sing about his love and life lessons, all while giving the listener a musical journey that is anything but predictable.
One of the album’s strongest songs is the alt. country kicker “Paying for Misery (Thanks to You)”, a song Wilson wrote as a homage to a train hopper and two folk singers that helped show him that working a menial job and squandering his musical career was never going to satisfy him.  Suffice it to say, Wilson quit his job, wrote this song, and hit the road; putting everything on the line.
Thankfully Wilson did this, putting his faith in his own music, and what would become the self-titled full-length.
“I decided to go with a self-titled record for my debut,” Wilson admits.  “During the process of making the record, which consisted of months of pre-recording talks and planning, I opted to steer away from a concept record.  I didn’t want to make a rock record, or a folk record, or a low-fi record, or what have you.  I just wanted to sit down and record the songs the way that they sounded best.”
He continues, “I didn’t want to be constrained to limits of alt. country, or rock, or folk.  It was the greatest hurdle facing the record; just that idea of, ‘Do we make a rock record? Does every song need to have drums on it? How do we make an album that settles together and tells one story?’  Through multiple takes and versions, re-cuts and overdubs, some tracks kept all the complexity of the rock that they were recorded with, while some tracks, like the album’s only cover, ‘Clean,’ were stripped of everything.  That’s what the song needed to come out and be heard.”
One of Wilson’s favorite songs on the record is “Valhalla,” a song he doesn’t even remember writing.
“It’s the song I play the most,” he remarks.  “The funny thing is that I don’t remember writing it, at all. I don’t remember any point during the writing process. I do remember my ex, reading ‘The Mists of Avalon,’ and loving it and reading bits of it to me every night. I suppose that’s why it’s my favorite, it’s like someone gave it to me to play. As a gift.”
Proud of his debut full-length, Wilson doesn’t take the sole credit.  He is quickly eager to thank, and show appreciation, for all the players that made the record a reality.
“So many friends helped this record come together,” he says.  “The horn sections are something that I felt we used sparingly and with great impact. In the last chorus of ‘Valhalla,’ Alex Kostelnik and I spent hours finding ways to mix in the vocal lines, the pedal steel swells, the ecstatic drumming, and those four horns. Through that cacophony, came such a sweet feeling, like a tipsy stumble sidewalk, following a marching band through the streets of the French Quarter at 9 o’clock in the morning.”
Now the only thing left for Wilson to do is continue touring in support of the album he put his heart and soul into.
  • 1/27/12 – Cafe Medici – Austin, TX
  • 1/28/12 – Skinny’s Ballroom – Austin, TX
  • 1/30/12 – Saxon Residency (after Bob Schneider) – Austin, TX
  • 2/03/12 – Club Deville – Austin, TX
  • 2/08/12 – Marathon Live Music – Los Angeles, CA
  • 2/09/12 – Silverlake Lounge – Los Angeles, CA
  • 2/18/12 – Hole in the Wall – Austin, TX
  • 2/22/12 – Folk Alliance Int’l – Memphis, TN
  • 3/08/12 – 35 Denton – Denton, TX
  • 3/16/12 – Eastside Lounge (Ninkasi Brewing party) – Austin, TX
  • 5/13/12 – Al’s Den @ Crystal Hotel – Portland, OR
  • 5/14/12 – Al’s Den @ Crystal Hotel – Portland, OR
  • 5/15/12 – Al’s Den @ Crystal Hotel – Portland, OR
  • 5/16/12 – Al’s Den @ Crystal Hotel – Portland, OR
  • 5/17/12 – Al’s Den @ Crystal Hotel – Portland, OR
  • 5/18/12 – Al’s Den @ Crystal Hotel – Portland, OR
  • 5/19/12 – Al’s Den @ Crystal Hotel – Portland, OR
  • 5/24/12 – The Old Church – Wilsonville, OR
  • 5/25/12 – Sunset Tavern – Seattle, WA