Blues legend set to rock the Port

Alycia Douglass

Published on March 7, 2017

Award-winning blues artist, Doug MacLeod will perform at the Port Theatre next Thursday, March 16.

©Handout

CORNWALL, Ontario - This Thursday, March 16, the Port Theatre will welcome seasoned blues musician, Doug MacLeod. Having recently won the 2016 Blues Music Award for Acoustic Artist of the Year, as well as the Blues Blast Music Award for Male Artist of the Year, his rich, soulful vocals, which channel the old masters, are sure to appeal to local blues enthusiasts.

MacLeod says that meeting people at smaller venues makes his performances even more rewarding. “Playing big old theatres is cool to do, but smaller venues really keep you in touch with your humanity,” said MacLeod.

As a travelling artist, MacLeod’s music is rooted in his life and experiences. Famed for his traditional approach to songwriting, his songs embody heavy elements of storytelling. His wizardry on guitar is part of his experiential charm, along with his wit and unparalleled live performances. At the heart of his performances is a knack for bringing folkloric characters to life through his music.

“What people can expect from me is all original music, a little humour, and a lot of stories,” said MacLeod. “I like to think when people leave, they’re getting their money’s worth.”

With authenticity being a vitally important element in his music, MacLeod says that the secret to his success has always been “just sitting in front of the microphone and performing.”

“This style of music is made by humans for humans,” said MacLeod. “Nobody walks through this world perfect.”

Having spent years honing his skills, MacLeod’s playing style can be described as powerfully rhythmic. His incessant right hand produces a furious churning beat, masterfully accompanying his elaborate bottleneck and finger-style technique.

It was this very style that earned him gigs with blues legends, George ‘Harmonica’ Smith, Big Joe Turner, Pee Wee Crayton, Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson, Lowell Fulson, and Big Mama Thornton. MacLeod’s career, which has spanned 29 years, has included 20 studio albums, several live records, compilations, and even an instructional blues guitar DVD. Having had his songs covered by the likes of Albert King, Albert Collins, Joe Louis Walker, and Eva Cassidy, MacLeod has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success throughout the years.

The perennial Blues Music Award nominee follows the rule-of-thumb learned from country bluesman Ernest Banks, who told him to “never play a note you don't believe,” and “never write or sing about what you don't know about.”

“Banks was talking about being honest,” said MacLeod. “It’s sending out a feeling – that’s what blues is all about.”