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Doug MacLeod

Sierra Nevada Brewery’s Big Room

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Music lovers were treated to an acoustic double-header at the Sierra Nevada Brewery’s Big Room last Sunday when guitarists Doug MacLeod and Rory Block put on a display of finger-picking that had the packed room howling for more.

MacLeod has a marvelously comfortable voice that’s enhanced by a slight Southern accent (he was raised in Virginia before moving as a teen to St. Louis). He eventually settled in L.A. in 1974 and gigged around before forming his first (electric) band and released four LPs before deciding to get back to his acoustic roots 12 years ago. A study in black and white—black socks, pants and shirt set off by a white vest, thick shock of white hair and spiffy b&w 2-tone shoes—MacLeod plugged in his amplified 1991 National Resonator guitar and mightily entertained us during his too-brief, six-song set. 

He opened with a loping blues that had a “Boogie Chillen” vibe which was enhanced by some serious foot stomping that effectively evoked the shade of John Lee Hooker.  A warm, garrulous man of 60, MacLeod introduced his next number by talking about his musical influences then devoted a few minutes to philosophizing on how there’s no cure for birth nor death and how we should all pack our sense of humor along with us before leaving home and facing various “hasselizations” (e.g., traffic jams); thus prepared our “day would be better.”  MacLeod has a fine sense of humor that  popped up each time he introduced a song.  On “Your Bread Ain’t Done,” which was famously covered by Albert King, he informed us that the title is a Texas way of saying “you’re crazy” then continued with “one out of three people is crazy so look at who you’re sitting with.”  This, and other of his remarks, had the audience in stitches.

“Sun Shine Down My Way” was a nod to Tampa Red’s “Sittin’ on top of the World” and spotlighted his slide playing as did his last song, “East Texas Sugar.”  MacLeod’s a master finger-picker who fully lived up to Delta blues legend “Honeyboy” Edward’s encomium: “Now there’s a man who can really play the blues.” To which I can only say, “Amen”– Miles Jordan