SXSW Review: Doug Seegers, March 18, St. David’s Historic Sanctuary

It’s 12am. St. David’s Historic Sanctuary was emptied after Israel Nash‘s powerful performance. A bewildering-looking man came on-stage. Lanky and utterly out of place, even his hat seems like a brand statement that the wearer would happily do without. “What is he doing here? Should I stay?” Most of the audience asked that question, some audibly, and many left that question to their imaginations.

I guess having been homeless, Doug Seegers could easily shrug off, even be comfortable with that response. I’ve written before about his interesting story, but having actually listened, it made his recent fortunes even more unreal. It is simply baffling how he was not discovered sooner in this age of YouTube. From the moment he stepped onstage, Seegers energetically went through one song after the next. There was banter, but it was simple and effective. He introduced the songs, congratulated old married couples, used 2 lines to summarize his inspirations, rallied the People of the Book, and went on his country music way.

His band (which now includes a fiddle and a bass) was equally intriguing. In appearance, they looked not like musicians, but more like rental apartment managers. And there the cover under-sold the content as well. The fiddler in particular was effective on the violin as well as on harmony. The construction of most of their songs on the album are all very similar. It was only his golden egg “Going Down To The River” that stood out from the rest. In the end, it won’t be the stories in the lyrics, but his voice that you will most likely take away. He sounded even more “round” in person, if that’s even possible. It’s not a twang, nor an accent, but an entire being that can’t (yet) be recorded in hi-def. His whole demeanour puts your mind in the correct, country music speed. And he didn’t seem proud, overly excited, or even like he cared that his career has taken a great upturn. It’s a surprisingly interesting take on fame-and-fortune, and one that you should check out given the chance.

Posted on by Gary in South By Southwest