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Fast Five: Doug Balmain

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When did you begin making music, and did you ever ponder a different career?

I have played since back when I was in 5th grade, which would’ve been the year 2000. But I didn’t start songwriting and pursuing my own music in earnest until only just over a year ago while I was living on a ranch near Moran, Wyoming. I was lying on my worn out bed in the single room log cabin that I was temporarily calling my home and there was an oil lamp flickering above my head. I was staring into the flame and feeling sorry for myself while reminiscing about a recent love gone wrong. Then, all of the sudden, a phrase popped into my head…the words captivated me. I scrambled to find a pen and paper to write them down and as I began writing more phrases and thoughts came to me that were as clear as the first.

After about 10 minutes of frantic scribbling I took a step back (figuratively speaking) to read what I had written. I’ll be damned if it didn’t look something like a song! I quickly retrieved my guitar and strummed out a couple rusty D, Am, C, and G chords. Together they formed a simple but nicely fitting melody. I sat there and worked with the progression for a bit, formed a chorus, changed some words, and within half an hour I had written my very first song…and I didn’t even mean to!

Once I wrote that first song I was hooked. It opened a whole new world for me. My lyrics provided my tangled mind with a clarity I had never known. From there I just kept writing, playing my guitar, recording, and learning all I could about music. Now I’m 4 days away from heading to Nashville, TN to record my debut album, Troubled Mind!

I have always done plenty of pondering, but I have never seriously considered wanting to do anything else. I thought I wanted to be a mechanical engineer for about two weeks once…but being a singer/songwriter is the only thing I have taken seriously.

How would you describe your music?

Some of my music is bluesy, some has an almost Ozark/Appalachian sound, some has an alternative country sound, and some of my newest stuff has a whole lot of rock influence. But, I call myself an Americana singer/songwriter, and always will. I think more than a specific sound “Americana” conveys an ideal…Americana music, to me, is music that is grounded in life experience, real feelings, the lyrics are often linear or storytelling, traditionally grounded. However, it can sound like blues, rock ‘n roll, country, folk…you get the idea!

What have you been up to so far and what can we expect over the coming months?

For the last few months I have been hard at work on the production of my first album and I’m scheduled to be in Nashville on July 20th to start recording with a great group of American/Country/Bluegrass artists who will be backing all of my tracks. My primary focus lately has been on my “Kickstarter” campaign to promote and fund the making of the album (the campaign can be found here). Along with all that I have played a few summer music festivals this month, and I have one more big one to play when I return from Nashville. After that the focus is going to be on releasing the new album and setting up a tour schedule.

If you could duet with anybody who would it be and why?

That’s a tough one, there are so many people I would love to share the stage with. Initially I wanted to say Justin Townes Earle, but then I wouldn’t want to mess with his “groove”. He is so unique, and so good at doing what he does that I feel like performing something with him as a duet would take away from the experience. With that being said I think I’d have to go with Keith Richards. He is an incredible songwriter, incredible performer, he has revolutionized guitar playing, and he’s a great backup singer. I really admire him and I would be so honored to share a stage with him.

What’s your desert island disc and why would you take this one album?

Wow, another tough one. It almost seems a shame to have to pick! But, assuming I had to make the decision I would probably choose Let it Bleed by The Rolling Stones. It is just an incredible album. The Stones were so raw and honest, and for all the noise and lights that gets associated with them, their tunes are deeply grounded in the old-time, roots blues music. The entire meaning of life can be derived from the song Let it Bleed, You Can’t Always Get What You Want will be there to remind me to be thankful that I am at least alive and listening to The Rolling Stones, and for the darker moments the album’s apocalyptic opening tune of Gimmie Shelter is there to help make me feel understood…and those three tunes only account for one third of the tracks on the album, collectively it’s got everything I need!

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