The Dirty Dougs
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The Dirty Dougs

Maryville, Tennessee, United States | SELF

Maryville, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Band Americana Blues




"The Dirty Dougs have ‘Hope’ for good things to come"

By Steve Wildsmith

The boys are enjoying a lunch-hour whiskey at Brackins Blues Bar on a recent Monday afternoon, pondering the future of their band, The Dirty Dougs.

As grim as the music business might seem, Doug Harris and Doug Sneed are optimists at heart — or at least they enjoy dressing up their pessimism with a healthy dose of good-natured humor. (As an example, take the title of their new album, scheduled for a Tuesday night release celebration — “We’re All Gonna Die ... And Other Songs of Hope.”)

They still believe that with a little hard work and greater attention to detail, good things await them. And in a just world, that’s an accurate assessment, because these two guys, familiar faces in the Blount County music scene (and Knoxville as well), have the talent and the personalities to go far.

With the new album, they hope the rest of the world will come around to that realization as well.

“We’ve upped our level of professionalism when we’re on stage, and we’ve been working on our appearance ...” Harris begins.

“It’s an ongoing struggle,” Sneed interrupts, chuckling.

“... but don’t think we’ve lost our improv bones,” Harris continues. “We still leave room to play. I think that’s at the core of rootsy music, that aspect of what’s organic.”

Together, Doug Harris and Doug Sneed have been performing and songwriting for about a decade. The Dirty Dougs got started about four years ago at Two Doors Down, where the guys will celebrate the release of “We’re All Gonna Die” next Tuesday — and perform as part of Sunday’s “Furry Friends Fest” as well. In 2007, they released their debut album, “Without ‘U’ We’d Be Dogs,” and the chemistry between the two men — anchored in Sneed’s intricate, bluesy fingerpicking style and Harris’s harmonica-wailing and high, lonesome vocals — was immediate.

They first met in Murfreesboro, when Sneed joined Fuzzy Dice, one of Harris’s early projects. The two hit it off almost from the beginning, Harris said, and soon started writing songs together. Over the years, they’ve played together and separately, always maintaining a close friendship and getting together to pen new tunes. They started hosting the Monday night acoustic jam at Brackins several years back, and their affable, good-natured stage demeanor immediately put potential performers at ease, to say nothing of entertaining the crowds.

But when they’d stop chattering and start playing, the room would fill with electricity. Harris blows a harmonica with enough power to push the glass out of a window, and Sneed’s style of guitar playing fits the vocals and the harp like a glove.

“We’ve figured out what I sing well, and what works around Doug’s fingerpicking style,” Harris says. “Doug and I have developed harmonies over the years that work well together. I don’t know if anybody else could harmonize with either one of us — but we just know how to do it.”

For “We’re All Gonna Die,” the guys realized they had an opportunity to do a “proper” album, for lack of a better word. Not that “Dogs” wasn’t good; it was simply the product of two guys in a new band wanting to record everything they’d written together. For the new album, they traveled to Goodlettsville and the home of Terry Downing, Harris’s old bandmate in the Downing-Harris Band, and recorded in Downing’s home studio. Over two days, and with the help of upright bass player Phil Hardison, they tracked 12 songs that would anchor “We’re All Gonna Die.”

“On the first album, we’d started doing the acoustic thing as a gig; now, we’ve developed a sound,” Harris says.

“We’ve stripped what we do best down to a duo,” Sneed adds. “It’s the core of who we are and what we do. There’s definitely more preparation going into it.”

And with any luck, that preparation will pay off. Local music fans appreciate the blues, which can be found on any given weekend night drifting out of places like Brackins and Two Doors and the Waterfront, but when it’s done by guys like - Blount County Daily Times


Without "U" We'd Be Dogs (2007) Mad Top Mountain Records

We're All Gonna Die: and other songs of hope (2011)
Flyboy Records



The songwriting team of Doug Harris and Doug Sneed aka: The Dirty Dougs have been harmonizing for over a decade. The two combine Harris’ power vocals and Sneed's finger picking guitar style with an array of rootsy originals, classic blues and country. Together, the two create a twisted brand of Americana they describe as, "progressive roots music for the modern trailer trash sophisticate". Their music expresses dark epiphanies of love, death, and religion with southern wit and has a raw organic feel.

Doug Harris began singing in church at an early age and continues to flaunt the influence of traditional gospel. Growing up in Morristown, TN, Harris spent early adulthood on the path of the clergy and partially attributes his lyrical and vocal style to this influence. Other influences in Blues and Soul have led him to a unique vocal and harmonica style that shines with the roots based group.

In his hometown of Vonore, TN, Doug Sneed learned to play music through the sounds of Appalachia. His first band, at age 15, played old Bluegrass and Hillbilly music as well as the twang of Honky Tonk. He quickly grew to love the western influence of Country music and excelled at both electric and acoustic guitar styles. He also quickly learned the similarities between hillbilly music and delta blues. His fingerstyle guitar mixture of Blues and Hillbilly, combined with the coloration of jazz chord voicings, help define the band's sound.

Even though both are East Tennessee natives, the two Dougs combined forces for the first time in early 2001 When both became members of "The Fuzzy Dice Orchestra" in Murfreesboro, TN, where both were residing. Sneed had been there since 1996 and played with various country and blues bands in the greater Nashville area while attending Middle Tennessee State University. Harris had moved there in 1993 to attend MTSU and later began a music career as a hired gun on harmonica within the Contemporary Christian Realm.

Harris and Sneed brought their talents back to the East Tennessee area in 2003 where they began performing as a duo around the Maryville area. With the release of their first record, "Without U We'd Be Dogs", in 2007, they officially became The Dirty Dougs, paying homage to the organic "stuff" that covers the roots and helps them grow.