Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dougherty’s soulful gem
 
‘Rhythm Of Our Hearts’ offers crafty mix of rock and soul


By ALAN K. STOUT
MUSIC ON THE MENU
October 29, 2014

Throughout the course of an average year, dozens of songwriters, bands and musicians from Northeastern Pennsylvania release albums. Rock albums. Country albums. Indie albums. Metal albums. On any given week, one of them is likely to be dropping.

“Rhythm Of Our Hearts,” however – the new album from Mike Dougherty – does not fall into the category of any of those genres. His album is a soul album. And there’s nothing average about it. It is one of the best regionally released records of the year.

Dougherty, 26, is a native of Shavertown. The album, his first. was produced by Peter Carver at Long Pond Studios in the Poconos. And the fact that it’s a soul album was no accident.

“My influences, hands-down, are Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye,” says Dougherty. “Up until just a few years ago, I’d always listened to a lot of rock, like Led Zeppelin, but I was playing with The Woody Browns Project, and they really turned me on to some funk and soul, and I realized that I enjoyed singing funk and soul music way more than rock. It felt right to me. The first time I listened to ‘Songs in The Key of Life’ all the way through, I just knew that soul music was the way to go. Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On” … the lyrics stay true to this day. Listening to those albums had a big impact on my life.”

Dougherty says he first began writing songs while still in high school and that he’s been writing every day ever since. Highlights of “Rhythm Of Our Hearts”  include the title track, “How You Feel,” “On The Ground” and “Can We Be Together.” The vocals are smooth, the arrangements are clever and the music is engaging. He says he sometimes finds inspiration for writing by watching TV, especially the news.

“One of my favorite songs on the album is ‘How You Feel,’ “ he says.  “ It was written right around the time of the tsunami, and I realized, ‘Wow. Life could end just like that. And what are we doing to change the world?’ ”

Still, with just one listen to the album, it becomes clear that Dougherty’s biggest muse is love. Romance shows up in many of the songs.

“I have a lot of inspiration, but one of the biggest ones came about a year before I started writing music for this album,” he says. “I met the love of my life, and just being with her brought out the best in me. I’d needed to have a guitar when I was with her, because just singing to her is how I wrote some of my favorite songs on the album.”


Dougherty can be found on Facebook and the album is available at Gallery of Sound, CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes. He says that while he wrote all of the songs himself on an acoustic guitar, and that while he was able to imagine how they’d sound with a full production, it was the studio musicians that played on it that helped make it a true soul record.

“It was amazing,” he says. “Just to hear those guys play what I’d been hearing in my head while writing those songs was just amazing. It was so surreal. It was like the best moment of my life. The first time I heard ‘Can We Be Together’ with a horn section and the background vocals … I had a tear in my eye.”

He hopes listeners will not only be able to put themselves into the songs, but also learn a little bit more about him through the music.

“Every song is a piece of me,” he says. “If the listener is someone I know and have known for a while, I want them to hear who I am. I’m not a very sociable person, but when it comes to music , I’m very outgoing. I just want them to hear my point of view on life and love, and how I truly feel, because it’s my easiest way to communicate. For others, I just want them to hear a fresh new sound which blends my rock influences with my old soul. I want them to hear the love that I put into this project.”

(Alan K. Stout has covered rock and pop music in Northeastern Pennsylvania since 1992. His weekly radio show, “Music On The Menu,” can be heard every Sunday from 9-10 p.m. on 105 The River. He is currently playing four tracks from the ”Rhythm of Our Hearts" album on the show. This story also appeared in the October 29, 2014 edition of The Weekender.)

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Thursday, October 16, 2014


Flannery’s ‘Under The Covers’ brings area musicians together
He wrote the songs. Other artists performed them. And that’s just what he wanted.

  
By ALAN K. STOUT
MUSIC ON THE MENU
October, 15, 2014

Songwriters can often be quite protective of their songs. They don’t like producers tweaking them too much, and sometimes, they don’t even like other artists to cover them, even if it’s being done as gesture of respect. When The Foo Fighters once covered a Prince song, the famed Purple One famously told them that they should stick to writing their own music.   

Ouch.

The attitude of local songwriter Tom Flannery, however, is quite the opposite. And for his most recent album, “Under The Covers: The Songs of Tom Flannery,” he was not only pleased to hear other artists perform his songs, but he was the one that asked them to do it.  Though he’s been recording for more than 15 years and has released an impressive body of work, for this album, he decided to take his hands off the wheel. He reached out to some fellow musicians that he admired, gave them his songs, and asked them to have at it.

“I’m not really playing on it at all,” says Flannery. “I basically just handed them off. I just gave them a rough demo. And that’s what made it really cool. I told everybody the same thing. I said ‘I’m not just asking for ‘guest vocalist.’ If I give you a demo of a song, what I want is for you to take it and turn it into your own.’  I didn’t want a mimic of my demo. I told them to feel free to change the key, change the tempo, change the phrasing … all I asked was that they keep the melody mostly the same, and keep the lyrics the same.”

Flannery is a native of Dunmore and resides in Archbald.  “Under The Covers: The Songs of Tom Flannery,” is his seventh album. Six of those releases were solo efforts and one was recorded with the band The Shillelaghs. His first record, “Song About A Train,” was released in 1998. He’s also been a respected playwright, one of which, “The Driveway,” was directed by the late Pulitzer Prize winning dramatist and Academy award nominated actor Jason Miller. His latest album was recorded at his home studio and at the studios of those that performed on it.

Artists contributing to the album include Kris and Julie Kehr, John Canjar (Nowhere Slow), George Wesley, Asialena, Bret Alexander (The Badlees, Gentleman East), Lorne Clarke, Neil Luckett, Michael Jerling, Tim McGurl, Joe “Wiggy” Wegleski (Jigsaw Johnny, Jugdish), Shannon Marsyada, Josh Pratt, Van Wagner and Lisa Moscatiello. Only one track, the final one on the record, is sung by Flannery. Flannery says he loves how those that contributed to the project put their own stamp on the tracks. For some sessions, he wasn’t even there.

“With Bret Alexander’s track, that’s all him,” he says. “I’m not on it at all. He did it all at his own studio. I play guitar on Asialena’s track, and aside from that, and the last song, that’s the only track I’m on. People said, ‘You wrote a reggae track for George Wesley,’ and I said, ‘No, I wrote a song for George Wesley.’ That’s just what George does.”

Flannery says he was a fan of every artist that he asked to appear on the CD, and that with many of them, he had previously developed a friendship. Still, despite being familiar with their work, he was still surprised at the results.

 “The song that kicked it off was the one with John Canjar,” he says. “I’ve known John since he was a teenager, and he’s just an incredible talent. And he came over and just killed it. People were like, ‘Man, that’s really special,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, it really hits.’ It was the coolest thing. I sent him a demo, and he came up with some of the guitar on his own, and he did it in one take. I could have never done the song the way he did it. He made it a better song. And I had a similar reaction to almost everything.”

In addition to simply being interested as to how other artists would interpret his work, Flannery says another reason he took the hands-off approach to the album was because he was tired of singing. He is grateful to everyone that participated.

“They didn’t have to do it, but they did,” he says. “I always considered myself a songwriter first and a performer just by default. I can play the guitar, but I was never crazy about my own voice. So I wondered if this was something that people would be interested in doing. And the response blew me out of the water. I did not expect the type of response and the performances that I got. It kind of blew my mind. The songs - what these guys did with them - it just turns it up a notch. It’s now difficult for me to sing these songs myself, because you have these versions in the back of your head, and you think ‘I can’t touch these.’ If somebody asked me for my best batch of songs, or asked what I was like as a songwriter, this is probably the record I would give them.”


"Under The Covers: The Songs of Tom Flannery’"is available at  www.tomflannery.com

 
(Alan K. Stout has covered rock and pop music in Northeastern Pennsylvania since 1992. His weekly radio show, “Music On The Menu,” airs every Sunday from 9-10 p.m. on 105 The River. This story also appears in the October 15, 2014 edition of The Weekender.)




Saturday, October 11, 2014


THANK YOU, ELECTRIC CITY MUSIC CONFERENCE

 
THANK YOU, EVERYONE


On October 10, 2014, I was presented with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at The Steamtown Music Awards, which were a part of The Electric City Music Conference. I was told I was being given the award because of my career in music journalism, radio, and in presenting musical events. It was a very humbling and flattering experience, and after being introduced with some very kind words from Joe Caviston, one of the event’s organizers, and Michael Lello of Highway 81 Revisited, and Lobo from 105 The River, I was asked to say a few words. Thankfully, Joe had told me in advance that they hoped I might give a little speech, and so I was able to prepare. And that, to me, was what made this all very special, because it gave me the opportunity to thank some of the people that helped get me there. Some of those people were in the audience. Some were not. Regardless, I thought I’d post an outline of my words here on my blog.  I kept it all to about five minutes, but I just wanted everyone to know how much they are appreciated:

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First, I’d like to thank everyone involved in The Electric City Music Conference for this award, especially Joe and Ken, who have worked very hard at making this event happen. When you’re out there writing your stories, or doing your radio show, or putting on an event, you never really know if anyone cares. But tonight, you’ve told me that you do care, and I truly appreciate that. And when you are being given a 'lifetime' achievement award, there were obviously a lot of people along that way that you’ve encountered in your life that helped get you there. And I’d like to take just a few minutes to thank them.  And I guess I’ll start with where it all began …

My late grandfather, for really being the first one to turn me on the beauty of music.  Listening to records with him in his "parlor" on his beautiful floor-style stereo - which was essentially a large piece furniture - had a great impact on my life. He was very serious about his music. He loved that stereo and he loved his records, and my grandfather and I did not watch much TV. We listened to music.  All the time. Thank you, grandpa.

My parents. When I was a teenager, music was my life. And my parents were OK with that. Back in the ‘80s, long before we had an amphitheater at Montage and an arena in Wilkes-Barre, you had to go out of town to see your favorite bands. And if you weren’t old enough to drive, you needed someone to take you. In 1982, I asked my parents if they’d take me to see this band called The Who at the old JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. And they agreed to do it. They dropped me and a buddy of mine off in front of the stadium before the show, while they went to spend the day in the city, and when they picked me up a few hours later, I was not the same person. That day changed my life. It was my first concert, and it was the first time I truly experienced the power and the beauty of rock and roll. Over the next few years, until I got old enough to drive myself, my parents would shuttle my friends and I off to other shows in places like New York or Allentown. They always supported my love for music, and that's a big part of the reason I'm here tonight. Thank you, Mom and Dad.

In 1992, I expressed an interest in writing about music, or music journalism.  The Times Leader gave me that opportunity, and once they did, I ran with and have run with it to this day.  There were many people there that were instrumental in the success of my career, including Paul Gallagher, who hired me as a music correspondent, Mary Therese Biebel, who gave me my first full-time job in the newsroom, and Chris Ritchie, who gave me the opportunity to be a features writer. And, of course, Joe Butkiewicz, who was probably my greatest mentor in journalism. The years I worked for him were my favorite years at The Times Leader and The Weekender.  Thank you, Times Leader and Weekender, and all of the people that I worked with there over the course of 18 years. I am thinking about all of you tonight. 

Lyn Carey. Not only did she own the coolest rock club in town, but she also published her own music magazine called “Sound Check.” In 1993, she asked me to write for that magazine. I was still a very young writer at the time, and through that magazine, more readers and more musicians immediately became more familiar with my work. I only wrote for “Sound Check” for two years, but it had a very important impact on my career. Thank you, Lyn.

My friend Joe Ohrin, who is here tonight. Joe took me under his wing a bit back in the ‘80s at WRKC-Radio King’s College. He had his own show, and I often sat in with him. And even though we were just small college station in Wilkes-Barre, PA, we didn’t think any artist was too big for us to try and interview, and we landed some interviews with some of rock’s biggest bands. I learned that from Joe, and took that same approach with me to The Times Leader and The Weekender. Thank you, Joe.

My friend Jim Rosensteel, who has helped me archive many of my older interviews and concert reviews online. It’s nice to know that a concert review or an interview you did 20 years ago can still be read, and that wouldn’t be possible without Jim helping me with my websites. Thank you, Jim.

Jim Rising, for first giving me my own radio show 10 years ago on The Mountain, and Dave Stewart, who produced the show for many years. And to everyone at 105 The River. I’ve been there for a year now - it's one year this week - and I want to thank everyone there for making me feel so welcome and for helping keep local music on the radio. Thank you to Vince, who is here tonight, and to Lobo, who is also here. I am very proud to call 105 The River my home base for music.

Mitch Kornfeld and everyone at The Woodlands. For 10 years, The Woodlands was our home for “Concert For A Cause,” for which they pretty much let us take over the entire complex. Thank you for that, Mitch, and to Richie Kossuth, Gene Smith and everyone at Rock Street Music for helping make that event so special.

I want to thank KISS. KISS, with songs such as “Get All You Can Take” and “King Of The Mountain,” helped changed my life. In the ‘80s, when I was a teenager, KISS often wrote about the concept of individuality and self-worth. They helped guide me towards the attitude of not really giving a damn what anybody else thinks of you, and to just be yourself. Thank you, KISS. That
had an incredibly positive impact on my life, not only as a journalist, but as a person. Thank you, also, to U2 and Bruce Springsteen, for showing me that rock and roll could be thoughtful and poignant, and thank you to Van Halen, for showing me that rock and roll could be great without being thoughtful and poignant. And thank you to Elvis Presley and The Beatles, for changing everything. None of us would be here tonight if it were not for you.

Thank you to The Badlees and my friend Bret Alexander. In 1993, while at the newspaper, I received an album called “The Unfortunate Result of Spare Time.” That album changed the way I thought about everything when it came to local music. It was just as good as anything I’d ever heard before, and about a year and a half later, when the band dropped “River Songs,” I heard an album that was better than just about anything I’d ever heard before. And they were from right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Writing about The Badlees at that time was probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever written about. It was magic. They were the best band I ever wrote about. And I remain a fan of their music, still, to this day, including their current projects. I also want to thank Breaking Benjamin. When I wrote the very first story about them about 14 years ago, they didn’t even have a band photo. We took one for them, on the roof of the Times leader. A few short years later, they were a platinum band. They showed me that it can happen, because it did happen. If you’re a young band out there, don’t forget it.

I want to thank every single band or artist that ever called me up at the newspaper or reached out to me in any way and asked that I might write about them. I want to thank every single band or artist that ever sent me a CD and asked me to consider playing it on the radio. And I want to thank every single band or artist that ever performed at one of the events I helped put together, whether it was ‘Concert For A Cause,’ or the old original music series that we did at The Waterfront or The Woodlands, or the current music series we now do at Mohegan Sun. You have all bettered my life with your music. It seems like whenever I write about a band, or play them on the radio, or work with them on an event, they thank me. I thank YOU. Thank YOU for thinking of me. This is our music scene, and we’re all in this together.


Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I thank my readers and my listeners. Thank you for reading my stories, listening to my show, and coming to the events that I’ve worked on.  It means more to me than you will ever know.

Again, I thank all of the wonderful people that have had such a great impact on my career in music. And, again, I want to thank the Electric City Music Conference for this award, and for the opportunity to thank everyone. There is a GREAT weekend of music conferences and live performances on tap here in Scranton, and I hope you can take it all in and enjoy it.

I leave you with a thought from AC/DC …

For those about to rock, I salute you.

Thank you. And God bless you.


 
 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


'Counting Down Bruce Springsteen: His 100 Finest Songs’
delves deep into the music of The Boss  
 
 
 
Old Forge native’s new book examines and ranks the best songs of one of America’s best songwriters


By ALAN K. STOUT
MUSIC ON THE MENU

There is perhaps no other American songwriter whose body of work has been as completely analyzed as that of Bruce Springsteen. He is considered by many to be the very best at his craft and, for the past four decades, his songs have enlightened and inspired millions. Books – many of them – have been written about Springsteen’s  life and his music, and a new text, written by Old Forge native and resident Jim Beviglia, dives deep into the context of that music in a way that has never been done before.

Titled “Counting Down Bruce Springsteen: His 100 Finest Songs,” the book offers a detailed analysis of 100 Springsteen gems while also ranking them in order from No. 100 all the way to No. 1. For its author, delving into the songs of The Boss has been a lifelong journey, as he’s been a fan for three decades.

 “It happened around 1984-1985 with the ‘Born In The U.S.A.’ album,” says Beviglia, 42. “ I was 12 or 13 years old, and I was a big fan of MTV. With MTV, a lot of those artists were different than what I was used to seeing around town. And that was kind of the allure – seeing artists like Adam Ant and Duran Duran. They were just from another world. And then Springsteen came on, and it was like somebody that I knew, or somebody that I might have seen around town. He was relatable in a way that those other artists weren’t. That was the draw for me. With songs like ‘Glory Days’ and ‘Dancing In The Dark,’ there was a relatable factor. And I think that’s how a lot of fans feel about his music.”

After first discovering Springsteen at the height of his commercial success, Beviglia began to dig deeper into Springsteen’s catalog, purchasing albums such as “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.,” “Born To Run” and “Darkness on The Edge of Town.” He soon became an even bigger fan and has seen Springsteen in concert three times.

 “His live performances were just spectacular and they continue to be spectacular,” he says. “He really is the preeminent live performer of his era. He is still setting the standard. ”

Beviglia is a 1990 graduate of Scranton Prep High School and a 1994 graduate of Syracuse University, where he received a degree in broadcast journalism. “Counting Down Bruce Springsteen: His 100 Finest Songs” is his fifth book. He’s written similar countdown texts on Tom Petty, Elvis Costello and Radiohead, which were e-books, and one on Bob Dylan, which, like the Springsteen book, was a published text. He says that because he’s been such a big Springsteen fan for the past 30 years, he didn’t need to do much research when he sat down to write it. Still, that didn’t mean it wasn’t a very time-consuming project.

“With artists that I really love, I tend to be kind of a completist,” he says. “With Springsteen, I already had everything. I had all of the studio albums, I had the ‘Tracks’ boxed set, I had ‘The Promise,’ which was the ‘Darkness’ outtakes, I had the live albums … so I knew it all pretty well. I’d read books on the making of the albums, so a lot of the research was done before I started. I did, however, go back and listen to everything all  over again, from the first album to the last album and every recorded song that he officially released. But it really helped that I had an in-depth knowledge going in. From there, it was just sort of reinforcing that knowledge.”   

Beviglia’s selection of songs is interesting. Yes, most of the big hits and classics made the list, but throughout the countdown, there are also plenty of lesser known jewels, including songs from Springsteen’s folksy ‘Devils & Dust” album and from 2012’s “Wrecking Ball.” It is a comprehensive look at Springsteen’s 40-year career.

“That was important to me,” says Beviglia. “We’re in an era in music where a lot of times an album comes out and it sort of disappears. So whereas Springsteen’s diehard fans know the stuff that he’s released in the last 20 to 25 years, maybe the casual fans don’t, because the songs aren’t getting played on the radio all the time. And yet there is work there that is comparable to any of his best stuff. He did set such an amazing standard with what he did during the first 15 years of his career that it made it hard for anything that he did to live up to it. But the fact that he has been able to rise to that standard is amazing.”

 Beviglia admits that, sometimes, the difference in quality between a song such as “The River,” which he ranks at No. 14, might not be that much from a song such as “Backstreets,” which comes in at No. 8.

“After the book was done, I was driving home one day and I had ‘E Street Radio’ on, and ‘The Promised Land’ came on, and I was listening to it, and it’s just perfect,” he says. “There’s not an ounce of flab on it. The words, the music – everything just works perfectly together – and it tells this great story. It sends a great message. It’s uplifting.  There’s nothing wrong with it. So I went back and I looked, and was No. 37 in the book. I said ‘How is that possible?’ But then you look at the other songs ahead of it, and you say ‘Oh, yeah, now I understand.’ It really was like splitting hairs. And with an artist like Springsteen, it’s so tough, because he’s got so many great songs. Ultimately, it just came down to a set of criteria that I had: ‘How well did the song communicate the message? How well did the music fit with the lyrics? Did he achieve what he was trying to set out to do?’ It’s kind of a gut feeling once  you get to that point. Obviously my list is going to differ from just about every other Springsteen fan out there, but I tried to give it as much due diligence as possible and really research these things and really thoroughly go over every part of every song.”

Though they are not written about in detail - as the songs are that are featured in the countdown - the book also includes a section titled  “… and 100 more” which lists an additional 100 of Springsteen’s best songs.

“After 100, there were still songs where I said, ‘How can this not be on there?’ ” says Beviglia with a laugh. “The funny thing is, I could go past 200, and there’s still probably 20 to 25 songs that I enjoy that didn’t make the list. That’s the thing – if you’re going to do a book like this, the artist has to have not only a long career, but a consistently great career.”

“Counting Down Bruce Springsteen: His 100 Finest Songs” has already received positive reviews. Publishers Weekly wrote that “Beviglia's knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject will be appreciated” and lauded not only his picks, but also how he went about choosing them. They also praised the manner in which Beviglia dissects the many themes found in Springsteen’s work and the cohesiveness of his albums.  Dave Marsh, a noted Springsteen biographer who has written extensively for Rolling Stone, says that  "Counting Down Bruce Springsteen belongs in every bar on the shore—not just from Atlantic Highlands to Barnegat Bay, from Maine to Florida, too. Guaranteed to start all sorts of arguments, and settle a few too.”

Beviglia says his next book will countdown the 100 greatest songs by The Rolling Stones.  “Counting Down Bruce Springsteen: His 100 Finest Songs” is available through all online booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

“The neat thing about Springsteen is that if you trace his career and trace each album, it kind of follows the arc of a life,” says Beviglia. “You have the early albums, where you have those characters, and they’re young, and they’re out in the streets and causing trouble, and then things start to change. With ‘Darkness On The Edge of Town,’ they have to get a job, and on ‘Nebraska,’ they start to look out to the world around them and see these social concerns. With ‘Tunnel of Love’ they start to have relationships. With ‘Working On A Dream,’ it’s really about middle-aged people and getting older, and all of the triumphs and the heartaches that come with that. That’s the great thing about Springsteen’s music. And that’s the thing that people relate to. They can point at different milestones in their own lives, and point to different songs he’s written, and say ‘I can relate to that,’ or ‘I’ve been there.’ If there’s one characteristic of Springsteen’s songwriting and his recording career that really stands out, it is that ability to resonate with people throughout their entire lives.”

 (Alan K. Stout has covered rock and pop music in Northeastern Pennsylvania since 1992. His weekly radio show, “Music On The Menu,” airs every Sunday from 9-10 p.m. on 105 The River. He has seen Bruce Springsteen in concert 10 times and names “Racing In The Streets” as his favorite Springsteen song. This story also appears in the Oct. 8, 2014 edition of The Weekender and the Oct. 8, 2014 edition of The Times Leader.)
 
 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Dustin Douglas rocks with melody


Debut solo CD from gifted musician puts emphasis on songwriting


By ALAN K. STOUT
MUSIC ON THE MENU
October 1, 2014 

Dustin Douglas has arrived.

Yes, the gifted guitarist and vocalist, who has been a fixture within the Northeastern Pennsylvania music scene for more than a decade, has already done plenty of fine work. But with the release of his new album, “Black Skies and Starlight,” he’s jumped leaps and bounds as an artist.


It is the best music he’s ever made.

Douglas, 28, is perhaps best known to local music fans by his full name, Dustin Drevitch. But for his first solo album, he’s opted to use his given middle moniker. For him, the move was simply a symbolic gesture as he enters the next phase of his musical career.

“It wasn’t like a Prince move, where I just came up with a crazy stage name,” he says with a chuckle. “I didn’t change my name. It is my middle name.”

The change should make no difference to his fans. And over the years, he’s made plenty of those. Douglas’s former band, Lemongelli, an explosive power trio, released three critically acclaimed albums, each of which received regional airplay. He’s also spent the past five years performing with The Badlees, who were perhaps the most respected band to ever come from Northeastern Pennsylvania and certainly one of the most successful. Just last year, his impressive guitar work helped anchor the band’s double-disc set, “Epiphones & Empty Rooms.” And though The Badlees went through some major personnel changes this year, Douglas remains a touring member of the group. As for Lemongelli, that group has disbanded, though Douglas said the split was cordial.

“That was circumstantial,” he says. “We were done supporting the last album, our bassist got married and had a kid, and then The Badlees thing happened. It wasn’t there any more with us three. Life was happening – whether it was family life or career life – and it just ran its course. I loved that band and I loved what we did, but it was just time for some new pastures.” 



With the release of his first solo album, Douglas says he’s uncertain about his future with The Badlees. Still, he says he’s enjoyed being a part of the band for the past five years – and band that first formed when he was only four years old and one that he had long admired.



“I was definitely a fan,” he says. “My grandfather won a guitar from a radio station that was signed by The Badlees, and I found it up in the attic while I was in The Badlees. That put a smile on my face. And I’ve got to give props. I am a product of the Northeast PA music scene. I take it all in. Breaking Benjamin and The Badlees … fortunately I’m friends with both of those groups and I’ve learned a lot.”



“Black Skies and Starlight” was recorded at Saturation Acres recording studio and was produced by his former Badlees bandmate Bret Alexander, who had also produced Lemongelli. Tracks include “Daydream,” “Another Day In Disarray” and “My Door.” It’s a fine collection of guitar-driven rock, and for this record, Douglas says he took a different approach to the songwriting.

“For me, with Lemongelli, the songs always started with the riff,” he says. “It was a very guitar-riffed oriented band. This time around - and I would have to say it was definitely due to the time I spent with The Badlees - it was songs first. It was all about the songs. The songs and the melodies came before anything else. That’s where it’s different.”

It’s pointed out to Douglas that the music is fashion free. That, he says, is not by design. It’s simply a reflection of who he is as an artist.

“I’m at a point in my life where I’m just going to be what I am,” he says. “I’m just going to write the songs that come out of me, and whatever they sound like, they’re going to sound like. And they just sound like rock and roll music. Tom Petty is my biggest influence, but there’s different kinds of rock and roll, and I just want to touch on all of them – whether it’s rhythm and blues, or whether it’s a little harder. I’m influenced by all of that stuff, therefore I’m going to write that kind of stuff.”

Douglas says inspiration for writing comes from all places. He says he has many influences, some of which might surprise people.

“I’m very influenced by the radio,” he says. “I’m a rock dude at heart, but man, if there’s a good pop tune on the radio, I love it. I’ll crank it up. It’s popular for a reason. There’s nothing wrong with a catchy tune. I’m influenced by everything I listen to. Everything. And lyrically, it’s my life. I write about what’s going on around me. It’s not all autobiographical, but it’s stuff I see. I’m not really writing abstract stuff. I’m writing stuff that I see, stuff that I live and stuff that I have lived.”

Douglas, with his band, The Electric Gentleman, will hold a CD release party on Saturday, October 4 at the River Street Jazz CafĂ©. They’ll also perform on Tuesday, October 7 at Breakers at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs as part of the “Music On The Menu Live Original Music Series.” That show will also be broadcast live on 105 The River. (104.9-FM in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.) Douglas says if there is one theme to the new record, it is his desire to take his music beyond Northeastern Pennsylvania and move on. And though he says he’s still not quite sure where he’s heading, he’s definitely ready to go.

“Wherever the wind takes me,” he says. “Even before this record was made, I was thinking ‘I don’t want anything to hold me back. I want to take off and go, and play this record for as many people as possible.’ I want to see the world. And there’s no better job in the world than to play music and travel. This is a fresh start. I feel like I’m in a different headspace. I’ve learned a lot. With The Badlees for five years, you learn things, you meet people, you see things. I can’t say I know what to do, or know what not to do. I just feel like my path is different and I have a better plan. I’m been working on this record for a while now. It’s been a process. And I’m really excited for people to hear it.”  

(Alan K. Stout has covered rock and pop music in Northeastern Pennsylvania since 1992. His weekly radio show, “Music On The Menu,” airs every Sunday from 9-10 p.m. on 105 The River. This story also appeared in the October 1, 2014 edition of The Weekender.)