Interview – Doug MacLeod, Renowned Blues Artist

Jul 12, 2023 | Blog

Interview – Doug MacLeod, Renowned Blues Artist

Prepared by Lynn A. Deglin, 7/8/23

Doug is an accomplished musician and performer.  Your Suncoast Blues Society is thrilled to have him back in the Tampa Bay area and has been instrumental in arranging some local events.

Where you can see Doug perform in the Tampa Bay Area

  • Fogartyville Community Arts Center in Sarasota on 7/21/23 @8pm (Tickets)
  • Cottonmouth Soul Kitchen in Bradenton on 7/22/23 @7pm (Tickets – SBS members get a discounted ticket of $15 at the door with SBS membership card)
  • The Side Door / Palladium Theater in St. Pete on 7/23/23 @3pm (Tickets– SBS members get a $5 discount)

Our very own Board member, Lynn Deglin, wanted to know more about Doug so she reached out to him to talk about some of his life experiences.

Some Highlights of Doug’s Blues Journey

Doug was very interested in R&B and the musicians of the time such as Albert King, B.B. King and Chuck Berry. Doug started off in St. Louis, MO, as a bass player. He was about 16 years old and decided that – in order to meet girls – he needed to switch to the guitar. When asked if that was successful, he indicated that it helped!

Doug said that he was 19 when he met Mr. Ernest Banks – an old one-eyed Blues singer – in Toano, VA. One night Doug said to Mr. Banks, “I don’t know nothing about picking cotton, never had to do it. And the stuff I’ve seen and learned from you about bones and mojos I don’t want to know no more about it. So what do I write about?” That’s when Mr. Banks said, “You ever been lonely, needed a woman? Need some money for that little apartment you got?”  I said, “Yeah.” He said “Then write about that boy … that’s the Blues too.” And that’s what Doug’s music is based on.

As time went on, Doug became an accomplished storyteller. This comes from letting people know that the songs came from Doug’s experiences – following what Mr. Banks told him.

Doug had several other mentors – namely, David “Honeyboy” Edwards and George “Harmonica” Smith. After hearing Doug play, George “Harmonica”  Smith said, “You sound like B.B. King.” Doug responded with “Thanks George.” George then said “That’s not a compliment. Let’s put Dubb out there and see what happens with Dubb.” George gave Doug the nickname.

Doug feels greatly honored to have been accepted into the fold by these Blues musicians and to be mentored by them. They knew a lot about life and having to make big decisions and although they were barely literate, they had a lot of wisdom.

Over time, Doug did a lot of work in Los Angeles, CA. There he had the good fortune to play with wonderful musicians like Mama Thornton, Big Joe Turner, Pee Wee Crayton and – of course – George “Harmonica” Smith.

Doug has traveled all over the world and – since 1993 – has performed solo. He has had many amazing experiences such as performing at an Artisan event in Belgium. There, he fell asleep to the smell of chocolate as he was staying above a chocolatier’s store.

Doug lives in Memphis, TN, with his wife. He has found a city where there is great respect for all types of music. He discovered Memphis when he attended a Blues Awards event. 

How the Music Business has Changed

Doug said that the music business has radically changed. When he started in the music business, a record company needed to have faith in you to make an investment. This system pushed out many talented musicians as there just weren’t a lot of slots for new musicians.

Now, anyone can make a CD (good or bad). Also, there is streaming which pays about .0072 cents per download. Musicians are going to Congress to ask that a change be made in this structure as it is not fair to the musicians. Doug recently decided to do an online release called  Raw Blues 1.

Doug noted that he misses the concept of a downtown (versus an online store) where one can visit local stores and bump into people and have chats. I mentioned that downtown St. Pete is a good place to have that type of experience.

Thanks much, Doug, for taking the time to chat with me as a board member of the Suncoast Blues Society!  If you want to learn more about Doug’s music and accomplishments, please go to his website.