Doug Spartz
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Doug Spartz

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"As far as I'm concerned, Spartz can keep on making great music as long as he wants to make his way into the studio. The 63-year-old just shows 'em that you don't need to be under 30 to entertain (and I'm guessing he doesn't have to have pyrotechnics in his shows, either). Plus, he follows the 'rules' of country music. The only thing there ain't a song about on this disc is prison (mama, trains, and cars are all taken care of)." Stars: 3.5 of 5 - Kathy Coleman


It's always a treat when Doug Spartz releases something new. First off, he always gives you your money's worth: twenty tracks of originals and covers totaling a shade over seventy-seven minutes is what this one presents. Second, his Friends comprise, amongst others, the likes of Tom Gillam, Jay Boy Adams, Billy Lee Riley, and Eilen Jewell. Third, as seen through the prism of his unique musical vision, he breathes new and unexpected life into stuff like Jimmy Webb's “Galveston”, of Glenn Campbell fame, the Beatles' “Golden Slumbers”, (which, with the assistance of Sarah Jo Roark, becomes a classic all over again), and something as totally off the wall as “All The Young Dudes”, which he titles “Dude's Dream #26. As in last year's American Stories Lies and Tales , Spartz covers all of the Americana bases, everything from folk, rock, soul, bluegrass…, hell, this man doesn't miss a trick. Spartz has had a few left turns health-wise, but he has thankfully bounced back. Fear not folks, he's not going to be The One Who's Leavin' any time soon.

Doug's site. Order from CD Baby. Released June, '07, reviewed by Don Grant
- Freight Train Boogie


There is an interesting story behind the release of The One Who's Leavin'. Doug Spartz, following his critically acclaimed AMERICAN STORIES, LIES, AND TALES in 2006, was diagnosed with cancer and suffered a heart attack. While still in the hospital, Spartz booked studio time and began planning the recording of what he thought would be his last project. Whether it is or not remains to be seen. The One Who's Leavin', however, stands as an honest and forthright project on its own, backstory or not.
Out of 20 tracks on The One Who's Leavin', over half are cover tunes, with some interesting selections. Particularly noteworthy is Spartz’ take on Dylan’s Forever Young, which he manages to make his own. Spartz also covers another Dylan composition, the lesser-known Ring Them Bells, where he is joined by rockabilly legend Billy Lee Riley. As for the other covers, some work well (“Golden Slumbers,” “I‘ve Always Been Crazy”) some maybe not so well (Galveston, All The Young Dudes). Spartz, however, is a competent tunesmith on his own, and tracks like All Is Well and the title tune typify the feel of the project, which is one of peaceful acceptance, if not optimism, of the future. Spartz’ vocals are nicely weathered, and the arrangements --- guitar, fiddles, bass, organ and drums --- are perfectly understated. The focus of The One Who's Leavin' is on Spartz, as it should be. There is nothing about the project that sounds rushed, and overall it sounds more like a group of comfortable and extremely competent friends who got together to make some music, which, when you stop to think about it, is exactly how it should sound.
Spartz’ immediate plans are to keep writing and recording, which sounds like a good way to spend one’s allotted time, whether it be measured in weeks, months, or years. I’m reminded of Thomas Aquinas response, when, in the middle of a game of billiards, a student asked him what he would do if he learned he would die within a half-hour. Aquinas responded that he would continue to play pool. Just so.
- musicreviewer.com


I tend to not like songs or albums that use partial words (leavin' instead of leaving) because it generally indicates country. But there are exceptions. This is one. While Doug Spartz' Americana/Country style is not a genre I listen to with any regularity, I can say this is a really good album.

On songs such as Forever Young his great gruff voice is in wonderful contrast to his beautiful lyrics.

I especially enjoy Risky World which is a lively (more rock) tune filled with opinions about the world today. You don't usually see country protest songs. At least I don't. It's refreshing. Plus it has a great fiddle line.

I've Always Been Crazy features Eilen Jewell who's album, Boundary County http://www.collectedsounds.com/cdreviews/boundarycounty.html was review here in 2006.

I generally don't like talky songs, but Talkin' Americana Blues is really fun.

Upon repeated listens I like this even more. I just love his voice. All 20 songs are catchy without being too mainstreamy or twangy for my taste. Plus he's a fellow Minnesotan! There's a religious bent to some of the songs which may turn some away, but I'm sure will speak to others.

Check this one out for sure.

Posted on December 17, 2007

- Collected Sounds


After spending most of this decade focused squarely on the past, Minnesota Rock Country Hall of Fame founder Doug Spartz is very much living in the moment. His new CD, "The One Who's Leaving," is just below Ryan Adams and Kelly Willis at No. 5 on the Americana Music Association's radio chart this week, with 37 stations nationwide listing it on their playlists. This follows the surprise radio success last year of Spartz's wartime single, "Name on the Wall," a tearjerker about a fallen soldier. What's most remarkable about all this is that Spartz, 64, has been in and out of the hospital over the past year fighting off two heart attacks and colon cancer. "It's been 16 months of extreme highs and extreme lows," said Spartz, who had previously gone 10 years without recording an album. "Talk about getting a hit in the ninth inning."


CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER
- Star Tribune


At the time of this review, Doug Spartz is sitting at #4 on the Americana Music radio chart. I can tell you that this #4 makes some industry folks very uneasy. For Doug, I tend to think that he hasn’t had anything easy when it comes to music though. This past November, Doug suffered a heart attack which put his plans for this new album on hold. In February, he had yet another blow with the discovery that he has Colon cancer. His determination and will led him right back to the studio to start work on this new CD “The One Who’s Leavin”. The project includes a stellar cast of Americana artists with Jay Boy Adams, Tom Gillam, Eilen Jewell, Billy Lee Riley, and Sarah Jo Roark. Additional guest musicians include Bruce “Creeper” Kurnow, Bobby “Stinger” Schnitzer, Cynthia Johnson, Pamela McNeill, Billy Joe French and Gary Gazaway.

I remember getting a call from promoter, Fred Boening, early in 2007. Fred briefly mentioned Doug’s new project. At that time, Doug wanted a #1 record on the chart (who doesn’t). Fred’s reply was to give me some #1 music and you’ll get on the charts. I laughed but was intrigued with the project when Fred started naming off all the collaborating artists. Doug not only had a vision for this new CD but the drive needed to go with it. That drive is evident on Track #10 called “Americana Blues”. This song details some of the trials and tribulations of Doug’s attempt to get his music played on Americana radio. While it’s an entertaining story, it cuts into a pretty real picture of the radio & music industry. The rest of the CD packed with twenty songs containing some damn fine music. Doug’s voice, while raw and gritty, fits in nicely with some of the excellent compositions of the songs. The song “Tombstone Mansion” brings in some guitar and vocal help from Tom Gillam and Cynthia Johnson (the voice from the song Funkytown). My own favorites on the CD include “Risky World”, “The Flight of Jesse James”, “I Had Friends Who Loved Me” and “All is Well”. Doug’s story is much more than music. He brings us all a little hope in a world that is often unforgiving. His hard work and determination should be a lesson for us all which is never give up on your dreams. You can learn more about Doug Spartz by visiting http://www.dougspartz.com or http://www.emugga.com/doug_spartz.
- Americana Roots


AMERICANA Reviewed 09-18-07
Doug Spartz
The One Who's Leavin'


Singer-Songwriter Doug Spartz has been a part of the music industry for over 40 years and has recorded numerous albums and according to Doug this one he is most proud of. And indeed he should be. This 20 track collection is one of the most enjoyable Americana albums I've heard in a long time. Theres not a B side in the whole collection of songs. The songwriting is superb and the vocalist and musicians really stand out with Doug. Its like a whos who of great talent including Tom Gillan, Jay Boy Adams, Sarah Jo Roark,Eilen Jewell, Billy Joe French and Bruce "Creeper" Kurnow, and one of the early Sun Records legends Billy Lee Riley. Songs include "Risky World", a unique version of the Glen Campbell classic "Galveston" "Wine Into Water" and the stand alone song "Talkin' Americana Blues", a song every youngster should hear before thinking of a music career.


JDH
- Cashbox Magazine


Spartz finds a spark
Hackensack singer rejuvenated by making the best music of his career
By JOHN HANSEN
Entertainment Editor
In the last 10 months, Doug Spartz has had two heart attacks, been diagnosed with colon cancer and had surgery for that cancer. During the same period, his song "Name on the Wall," infiltrated the mainstream country charts and his latest album, "The One Who's Leavin'," has muscled up the Americana charts.

With his own mortality foremost in his mind, the Hackensack crooner is making the best music of his career.

"As I kept getting sicker and sicker and things kept going on, we decided we wanted to do these projects because I had so many friends over the years that never did any recording. They were going to, but then they're just gone," said Spartz, who looks every bit of his 64 years but has the enthusiasm of a young man. "So we decided to do this, and I don't even know if it's marketable."

Veteran Hackensack musician Doug Spartz burst back onto the scene last year with the surprise success of "American Lies, Stories and Tales" and its popular track, "Name on the Wall." Now he is back with "The One Who's Leaving," another album that has spent a lot of time on the Americana charts.

Spartz has been recording with producer Doug Deforest in Arkansas since 2005. They enjoyed their biggest success with the cost-of-war anthem "Name on the Wall" from last year's "American Lies, Stories and Tales." Almost unheard of for a tune not supported by a major label, it hit No. 66 on the Billboard country chart.

In February, Spartz - only a few months removed from the heart attacks - was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had successful surgery on March 1 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and days later, he was on a plane to Drasco and Cherokee Village, Ark., to lay down tracks for "The One Who's Leavin.'"

Released to radio in May and to consumers this month, it has climbed as high as No. 4 on the Radio & Records Americana charts.

"One of the first things Doug said when I went to see him after he got oriented again (after surgery) was, 'We have to go back in the studio,'" said Cindy Grant, Spartz's publicist. "He picked up the cell phone and called Doug Deforest and asked what is the quickest available time. Well, it was under two weeks out and Doug said, 'I'm taking it.'"

On his first post-surgery trip to Arkansas, Spartz spent 10 days alternating between singing and resting. Deforest, who produced "The One Who's Leavin'" and numerous songs for forthcoming albums, had never seen an artist crank out so many tracks in such a short time period.

"He's definitely recorded the most songs of any artist I've worked with," said Deforest, who has worked in the music business for 34 years. "He really got on fire about this. (He has recorded) well over 100 from-scratch songs. It's kind of stunning when you think about it, and a lot of them are very good. I've never seen anybody work as hard. It's because Doug realizes mortality is a real thing."

Spartz had arrived at the studio in a wheelchair, but he left on his feet.

Growing up in Willmar, Spartz was into rock 'n' roll. Radio listeners in the 1960s, though, knew him as a pop star. In his early 20s, Spartz led the house band at George Garrett's recording studio in Minneapolis.

"We had free studio time and were the darlings of George, but we never had enough sense to take it seriously," Spartz said. "Everything we ever did was Pick Hit of the Week on (local radio), and they were all awful, just awful."

By the time he reached his 30s, Spartz was fronting country groups that played 200 dates a year and recorded in Nashville, Tenn. He got out of music in the mid-'90s when his wife, Carol, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After Carol's death in 2001, Spartz founded the Minnesota Rock & Country Hall of Fame as a way to honor his contemporaries in the business, especially those who had gone unheralded.

It took him a half century, but Spartz has finally found a music home with Americana, a format that emerged about 15 years ago. Spartz describes it as "a genre without a genre."

"I was recording in Nashville (in 1993) and I was impressed with the fact that (Americana artists) were attracting so much attention, but the truth is I didn't have any material that was suitable for them. I wasn't an Americana artist. I was trying to be a cookie-cutter country guy like everybody else, with the tired old Kenny Chesney monkey business. It was about three years ago that I kind of rediscovered Americana and saw how healthy they were."

The success of "The One Who's Leavin'" shouldn't be surprising - it boasts the variety necessary to appeal to radio stations across the format, whether they lean toward bluegrass, country or story songs.

"We did a radio spot with a bluegrass station in Kentucky," Spartz said. "It's like we're alien creatures when we walk in there. We recently spent six days in Texas and we did well there because we had Jay Boy Adams (one of the many Friends in Doug Spartz and Friends) with us. He's a Texas guy and they love him in Texas. We've got three cuts on (the album) that lean towards folk, so that helped us out with (a folk station in) Boston.

"In the end, by putting 20 cuts on here - which is way too many - it's hard for a station to say, 'Hey, you're just not playing anything we can use.'"

"The biggest challenge with any artist is finding a spot they fit," Deforest said. "With independent music doing what it's doing, taking over a larger and larger market share much to the major labels' dismay, it was just a matter of Doug finding an audience. With Doug being such a chameleon, his experience in life shines through. In his case, his age does him justice. It's a well worn-in, nice voice."

Spartz is especially gratified to know that he penned the three cuts that have gotten the most radio play - "Flight of Jesse James," "Risky World" and "Tombstone Mansion." But the title track and "I Had Friends Who Loved Me" best summarize Spartz's state of mind while recording this album. The singer's end-of-the-line vibe spread throughout the Americana community.

"With the cancer thing, the songs started to take a real different bent," Spartz said. "You'll hear it on 'Friends Who Loved Me,' 'The One Who's Leavin'' and a couple others. What ended up happening was word got around that maybe this is Doug's last go-around. You know, I've done about 30 albums, but this is probably gonna be it. You can understand how that would happen. So (Deforest) said why don't we put more of these visible Americana guys on here, and then one by one, they called and we talked."

Deforest's studio band, the Cuttin' Crew, recorded the instruments and Spartz recorded the vocals. In this age of technology, the guest musicians didn't have to travel to Arkansas to contribute their part.

"Doug's guest artists are from various places," Deforest said. "Some record in New York City, some in Boston. They'll cut their track wherever they're at and we'll mix it. It works pretty good."

Despite Spartz's health concerns, "The One Who's Leavin'" will not be his last gasp. Entire albums are in the can for future release - Deforest is particularly excited about the blues album and the Bob Dylan tribute album - and the prolific Spartz certainly isn't done writing.

In a way, his career is just getting started. Deforest believes this is the most heartfelt music Spartz has created.

"In years gone by, Doug cut several projects in Nashville, and he never felt they lived up to what he could do," the producer said. "Here, he started getting exactly what he thought was him. He works harder than anyone I know at getting these thoughts out, and he doesn't care whether it's bluegrass or rock or whatever."

Spartz's psychological health, at least, has never been better.

"You know, we're getting to the age where if you don't do it now, you'll never do it," he said. "I know we made the right move."

On the Web:

www.dougspartz.com, www.americanamusic.org.

JOHN HANSEN may be reached at john.hansen@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5863.
- Brainerd Daily Dispatch


Doug Spartz takes another round

Posted: 9/5/2007 at 9:17 AM


Minnesota roots musician Doug Spartz has had a busy summer.

His latest CD "The One Who’s Leavin’ " reached the top five of R&R/Billboard’s Americana charts in August after just nine weeks on the shelves. The album also is No. 4 on the Cashbox charts and No. 1 on the Minnesota Regional Roots Music chart.

Also in August, the musical comedy "Deer Camp," which Spartz scored the music for, opened at the Pioneer Place on Fifth and was a total sellout for 17 dates.

"The One Who’s Leavin’ " is Spartz’ follow-up to 2006’s "American Stories, Lies & Tales" which went to No. 18 on the Americana charts. The new disc shows the versatility of Spartz’ veteran voice and songwriting abilities.

"The One Who’s Leavin’" opens sounding like it’s going to be a rock album with the song "Risky World" and quickly changes gears to a roots groove. It then mixes up the senses a little more with a bit of banjo-driven bluegrass and country on "Flight of Jesse James."

It’s a rush to the musical senses for 20 tracks.

Spartz is joined on the disc by a handful of skilled musician friends, such as Jay Boy Adams, Tom Gillam, Eilen Jewell, Billy Lee Riley and more.

Spartz penned many of the songs on the album, and included a few well-chosen covers by Fred Eaglesmith and Bob Dylan.

Can’t-miss songs on the album include: "Flight of Jesse James," "Tombstone Mansion," "Ring The Bells," "Old Jack Morgan" and "Time to Get a Gun."

It’s almost amazing that the album was even recorded. After a year of major health problems, it appeared that Spartz wouldn’t be doing any more recording after "American Stories, Lies & Tales." But from his hospital bed, he called his producer and booked time in the studio. And now he’s sitting at the top of the charts.

After finishing a 14-state radio tour, Spartz is currently working on putting together a performing tour.

Hear clips from "The One Who’s Leavin’" on this week’s Cloudcast: Episode 068 at www.jam.mn.
- St. Cloud Times


Minnesota-based roots artist Doug Spartz has been making music for four decades now-although there was a 12-year hiatus just prior to his self-released 2006 Americana success story, “American Stories, Lies & Tales.” In spite of ensuring health issues, Spartz was motivated and determined to record a follow-up album and “The One Who’s Leavin’” is the result.

Spartz again references many American musical styles and blends them into an honest, organic sound. And this time around he was offered the help of some pretty impressive friends, including Jay Boy Adams, Tom Gillam, Billy Lee Riley, Eilen Jewel, Sarah Jo Roard, Billy Jo French, Cynthia Johnson, Tim Crouch, Gary Gazaway, Bobby Schnitzer and Bruce Kurnow.

The album features 20-yes 20!-songs, some written by Spartz and others carefully chosen. All have a thoughtful message and an air of hope. Check out “Flight of Jesse James”, “Risky World’, “Wine Into Water” and “Tombstone Mansion”.

By the way, when Spartz isn’t recording or touring, he enjoys his 240-acre home on a lake. He is also chair of the Minnesota Rock Country Hall of Fame.

John Schoenberger
R&R Magazine
- R&R Magazine


Discography

2007-“The One Who’s Leavin’”

• Finished in #20 spot on R&R Magazine’s top Americana releases for 2007
• Peaked at #4 on R&R Magazine’s weekly Americana chart
• Remained in top 5 on R&R Magazine’s Americana chart for 7 weeks.
• One of only a few independent releases to achieve top 5 status on chart
• Song from CD “Flight of Jesse James” charts in Europe at #11

2006-“American Stories, Lies & Tales”

• Finished in #61 spot on R&R Magazine’s top American releases of 2006
• Peaked at #18 on R&R Magazine’s weekly Americana chart
• Song “Name on the Wall” chosen as Country Aircheck Daily Shaker for the most increase in spins for 24 hour period
• “Name On the Wall” charts on Billboard daily country chart at #66
• “Name On the Wall” chosen as hot pick on nationally syndicated radio show “After Midnite” with Blair Garner in September 2006
• “Name On the Wall” retired as Bunkhouse Brawl champion on KIIM FM, Tucson, AZ in January 2007
• Spartz receives invitation to do special XM Live show in July 2006

Other notable releases:
• “Legacy” slated to be released in 2008-this multi-CD package will contain 21 of Spartz’ album releases over the past 20 years.
• "Stayin' Young is Getting Old" (single) 1995
• “Colors & Numbers” (single) 1994
• “Breakaway” (single) 1994
• 36 other projects from 1962-1985-all the way back to 1963’s “Come On Pretty Girl”

Photos

Bio

Doug Spartz has spent four decades making music, from his early studio days in Minneapolis working as a studio musician, to his touring days with a variety group; but the latest stop on his musical journey has propelled this veteran singer/songwriter to a new level.

In 2006, he released “American Stories, Lies & Tales” to Americana radio and the result was a #61 finish of the top Americana albums released that year. From that album, “Name on the Wall”, penned with his producer Doug Deforest, rose to the top and garnered Spartz and invitation to perform on XM Radio live. Mainstream radio gravitated to the song and it was chosen as a pick on the nationally syndicated radio show, “After Midnite” with Blair Garner and also was Country Aircheck’s daily shaker for the most spins in a 24 hour period for a previously uncharted release.

His 2007 release, “The One Who’s Leavin’” came out in May and quickly climbed to #4 on the Americana chart, staying for seven weeks in the top 5, a rare feat for an independent offering. Americana radio again embraced the versatile musical styling of the project, with 20 cutes ranging from the country/rock sounds of “Pederson & Jesus”, to the bluegrass cut “Flight of Jesse James’, to the blues groove of “Tombstone Mansion” and the Triple A offering “All is Well”. Spartz penned eight of the songs and also included a Fred Eaglesmith tune “Time To Get a Gun” and the poignant “Lord He Left You” written by members of the Texas group American Graveyard. Dispersed among the original tunes were well chosen covers of the Jimmy Webb classic “Galveston” and a resurrection of the 1960’s David Bowie penned “All the Young Dudes”.

There isn’t a musical style this veteran singer/songwriter won’t tackle, but none are as effective as when he sits back and tells a story in his song. His raw, emotional deliveries have brought him a solid following among roots musical followers. But don’t try to pigeon-hole him into one musical genre. His recordings and performances to date have shown that he can deliver any style of song, switching from bluegrass, to Triple A, to blues, or to a flat-out rock groove. His ability to take a cover song and make it his own is unmatched, as evidenced by his treatment of several Bob Dylan songs, including cuts of “Forever Young” and “Ring Them Bells”.

Spartz is poised to begin an extensive tour schedule, in addition to releasing a new CD to radio. Following a year of health problems, he has been given the go ahead from his physicians and he is stronger and more driven then ever to take his music on the road. He will be doing a variety of shows, from smaller more intimate coffee house venues to large festivals. Joining Spartz along the road, will be a variety of musical guests including New York’s own Yarn, Midwest group Pat Bacon and the Rebellion, Texas artists Kevin Deal and Jay Boy Adams; and others to be announced.

Other highlights:

• Wrote the music for the musical production “Deer Camp”
• “Rising Star of the Year” by the Country Music Association of America
• “Novelty Song of the Year” for his single “Stayin’ Young is Getting Old”
• “Song of the Year” for “Colors and Numbers” (Airplay International)
• Nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year (Academy of Independent Recording Artists)
• American Eagle Award by the Country Music Association of America