He is charming. He is funny. He is poignant. He spins yarns that make you feel you’re leaning on a rough wooden railing, in the heat of a Southern summer night, in some no-name little bar in the middle of no where.
He is a Blues Man.
Doug MacLeod, internationally renowned singer/song writer, was in Morrisburg on Friday, November 11, for one concert only at the Lakeshore Drive United Church. MacLeod is an acknowledged master of the blues. His South Dundas audience experienced a rare treat when he took up his Nashville Guitar, sat down on the simple stage and played.
It’s hard, attending a MacLeod concert, to separate his music from the stories he spins while he is on stage. As he said in an earlier interview with The Leader, “blues is the true facts of life.” His stories reflect a life not always led on the straight and narrow, a life with some rocky edges to it. But the music grows out of this past. And there is the humour and wit of experience in what he says and sings.
“When you walk down the street/Don’t you make no judgement on people that you meet…Remember these words/ ‘cause these words are true/They were once children just like you…” (Children Like You)
Sometimes, he sang, “all you need to see the goodness around you/ Is brand new eyes..” (Brand New Eyes).
There may have been a message in his music, but it was never driven home with a fist. Just a wink, and a sense of humour.
“Here’s a song about crazy people,” MacLeod told the audience. “One of every three people is crazy. Did you know that? (pause) Take a look at who you’re sitting next to.”
He had the audience roaring with laughter when he described a ZuZu Woman. “Y’all know what that is? That’s a woman who loves you so much she will let you eat crackers in her bed.” And his raucous delivery of “Turkey Leg Woman” (“I’m protesting against skinny women!”) brought the house down.
His fingers flying over the Nashville Guitar, MacLeod’s voice, mellow, driving, animated, soulful, reflected the ever changing moods of the songs he sang.
“This Old River,” written for a friend of his who eventually lost her life to cancer, was simple, soft and deeply moving. “I went to see her when she knew she was dying. She was out in her backyard still planting trees and flowers. This woman who was gonna leave us so soon was planting life.”
It stood out in an evening of stand out music.
The enthusiastic audience attending the MacLeod concert knew they had been in the presence of one of the all time great Blues men.
“I never play the same song the same way twice,” Doug MacLeod told his listeners. “You Morrisburg folks are the only folks in the whole world hearing these songs exactly like this.”
What a privilege.