mcdougall
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mcdougall

Band Folk Punk

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"Total Fest 2008 Discriptor - Missoula, Montana"

McDougall (Portland, Oregon) Every year when we hold our listening sessions, there are one or two submissions that literally not a single one of us have heard of, that just end up being absolute unanimous picks. McDougall’s was that submission this year: vulnerable, versatile, beautifully crafted songs that just speak some sad universal language and whose power really is transfixing. (RIYL: Woody Guthrie, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle) --JV - Josh Vanek, Wantage USA


"A Hip, Lowdown Hoedown"

It's strictly country, but dad-gum it
if the young folks at the Scene ain't takin' to it.

By Jeff Miller, Special to The Times

It's a drizzly Thursday night in Glendale, and the bar at the Scene is crawling with the patrons you'd expect at a club that describes itself as "a lowdown, dirty rock bar." The pool table is busy, the video trivia game is in use and there are more tattoos than there are people. Manager Carl Lofgren tends to the small bar along with another worker, while a member of the mostly twentysomething crowd orders up another round.

Onstage is a group of musicians also in their 20s, playing fast, stomp-happy music. But they're not playing punk, or metal, or emo, or any variation of thrashy rock that would make sense for the locale. No, the instruments are unplugged, the song is by Woody Guthrie and the kids are playing instruments including banjo and mandolin as if their lives depended on it.

Over the course of the night, the music ranges from the lovelorn, Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons twang of Fur Dixon and Steve Werner to the kick-up-the-heels stomp-grass of the Barren Foothill Breakdown. In between, there is old-time yee-haw from front-porch traditionalists Ben and Kelly Jitters, country-blues breakdowns from Bantam Rooke and the almost-indie political indictments of John "Doc" Foshee..

Welcome to the Old Time Ruckus Revue, the hoedown the Scene has hosted on the second Thursday of every month for more than a year. Originally an occasional attempt to find support acts for national bands such as the Hackensaw Boys and the Old Crowe Medicine Show, the Ruckus has become a vehicle for a diverse group of musicians to explore music far away from the alt-rock of Hollywood.

Call it what you will - bluegrass, mountain music or Americana - but on Ruckus nights, most of it is fast, all of it is empowered and, somehow, it seems new despite its deep roots.

Though it may seem odd that these punk rockers have embraced such an old style of music, the fact of the matter is that the two genres aren't so far off. Originally, the bands that regularly play the Ruckus were playing folk festivals. But, Lofgren says, "They'd get in trouble with the festivals because they were playing too fast and too loud."

Scott McDougall, the singer for Barren Foothill Breakdown and the organizer of each month's Ruckus, backs him up. He's a longtime punk rocker and also a mountain music man - and he says they're not so far apart.

"When you bring it down and look at it, they're both based around three chords, and most of it's pretty fast, and there's a lot of hollering," he says. Mention that bluegrass seems a bit more intricate and technical than punk rock, and McDougall responds: "Not everybody's doing intricate solos. Most people are playing three chords all the time."It works wonders for the jams in the Ruckus, especially when members of the participating bands cram onto the stage for a 1-2-3-4 bash-and-burn. There are no set lists and no rules: Someone yells out a song, sometimes reminds everyone else of the chords, and they're off and running, either coming together in something resembling structure or crashing into something resembling white noise. It's usually more the former than the latter - which has attracted fans on a monthly basis to see what will happen next.

One of those fans is Jeremy "Frog" Price, who's come out to see his friends Ruckus almost every month since the night began. "It's not the mainstream crap you hear on the radio every day," he says. "It's something different."

First-timers also agree - though they're not always as involved as Price. This is Martina Troiano's first Ruckus, and she's impressed. "It's not the kind of folk music my dad would listen to, like Joni Mitchell," she says. "It's a new thing." Though she's not going to go out of her way to find more music like the Ruckus Revue, she's open to finding out more about traditional American music - a heady admission for someone whose taste leans more toward Nelly than Nickel Creek.

Not that the participants in the Ruckus care. Each musician interviewed compares the show not to a showcase or a performance, but to an unplanned afternoon jam. "When you sit around a house and play, you don't plan set lists," McDougall says, "so why would you do it here?"

And so, as the night winds down and the bar clears out, that explains why there are still 10 or so musicians on stage, bashing out the kind of music their grandparents listened to, still energized, and, of course, still whoopin' and hollerin'.

The cynical could claim they're just waiting for the rain to die down. But the elated look on McDougall's face indicates otherwise. Tonight, the Scene has no room for cynics. Punks and mountain men, however, are more than welcome.
- Los Angeles Times


"Colorado Buzz Show Review"

First up was McDougall of Portland, Oregon, a one-man orchestra. Singing with an exaggerated bravado, he grabbed the attention of the crowd immediately. What truly impressed me was his ability to play the guitar (or banjo, as needed), keep the bass drum pounding, alternately clashing the cymbals, and even playing the harmonica, at times. Had I not been watching him, I would have sworn there were at least a couple other musicians up on stage. - Kelli Peterson of Colorado Buzz


Discography

Gather: Volume 1, 2009
Cover With The Moon, 2009
Ramble, 2008
By Way of the Barrel Tree, 2007
The Night Before (with Glassell Park 3), 2006
Meeting In The Air (with Triple Chicken Foot), 2006
Avenue 34 (with Glassell Park 3), 2005
Number 2 (with Glassell Park 3), 2004

Photos

Bio

"...it is empowered and, somehow, it seems new despite its deep roots." -Jeff Miller, L.A. Times

"...vulnerable, versatile, beautifully crafted songs that just speak some sad universal language and whose power really is transfixing." - Josh Vanek, Wantage USA

McDougall has been recording since the age of thirteen when he figured out how to overdub multiple instruments on his dad’s dual tape-deck in the garage. Since then he has recorded and played with a good many bands and at present is a member of the gritty punk-blues duo/trio The Glassell Park 3, the hobo folk duo 48er, and part-time member of the ruckus old-time outfit Triple Chicken Foot. Though he’s shared the stage with bands such as The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Flogging Molly and has played clubs such as the House of Blues Las Vegas and the legendary Whiskey A-Go-Go, this has never been his musical aim. With a family music history including his mother, grandmother and grandfather playing old-time hymns in prison camps and skid-row missions in the 1950’s and 60’s, McDougall has always had people at the forefront of his musical ambitions. In high school it was a way to burn off some creative and physical energy with friends after school, later on it became a way to forge a sense of community and now it has also become an effective way to share human experiences and tales with other common folks like himself. This is where he finds his solo endeavors – drawing inspiration from writers such as Shane MacGowan, Tom Waits, Steve Earle and Woody Guthrie and musical inspirations from those, as well as the likes of Leadbelly and Jon Patrick Foshee, McDougall does his best to paint pictures of the not-so-ordinary experiences of everyday people, using a variety of acoustic instruments (guit-jo, 5-string and Irish tenor banjo, various guitars and mandolin) to create the backdrop.

With his imagination often dwelling in the very real places of his past and present, as well as in the possible future, McDougall’s songs may very well seat you by a coffee-can fire in the middle of a dry California river-bed, pull you up onto a freight train in the lush spring-time of the Pacific northwest, raise your voice in hymns with the entire family on a Thanksgiving afternoon, or haste your good-bye to civilization as you know it, as you ramble on with all you possess on your back. Fact, fiction, and a little in between, McDougall carries on the relevant tradition of oral history and folklore, making it a part of everyday life and sharing it with those around him. Inspired by the word of God, his family, friends, fellow workers and fellow travelers met along the way, 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 will come after.