As a grandson in the spirit of the blues, the guitarist, singer and songwriter Doug MacLeod made music together with blues greats of the past, such as Pee Wee Crayton, Lowell Fulson, Big Mama Thornton, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson and Big Joe Turner, with whom he met from the 1970s in Los Angeles. This was at the beginning of his blues career, which he embarked on late, but then forever, after completing his music education at the Berklee School of Music. Before that, he was a pure jazz man after graduation. He later played the blues guitar in the musical Grease, but this was not the catalyst for his lifelong enthusiasm for the blues. Rather, Doug MacLeod was inspired by singer and blues harp player Shakey Jake Harris to make the blues his own. He then formed his own band in the 1980s, with which he recorded his first albums. From 1994 he devoted himself to acoustic playing, for which he was nominated several times for the W.C.Handy Awards. At the same time, MacLeod could be heard on radio, where he hosted, among other things, The Blues Highway radio show, which aired on EuroJazz. Up to his current album, A Soul to Claim, MacLeod has released twelve studio albums, live recordings and two DVDs, as well as some 350 compositions covered by various musicians. He also wrote the film score for In the Heat of the Night.
From the blues greats of the past, MacLeod learned life lessons spiced with humor to proclaim in his own blues compositions. “There's humor in my songs, but also messages on how to make it through this life," he says. "That's what I learned from the old guys."
For A Soul To Claim, Doug MacLeod teamed up with legendary producer and engineer Jim Gaines. On the twelve new MacLeod originals, Doug and his trusty Waterloo guitar "P-nut" are joined on five tracks by Memphis studio veterans Rick Steff on keyboards, Dave Smith on bass and Steve Potts on drums, six tracks feature Doug MacLeod alone, and one of the originals is a solo instrumental.
The blues on A Soul to Claim is of the very finest craft and ingenious execution by each of the album's contributors, bringing all-around joie de vivre and life experience to our troubled world. Doug MacLeod sees it this way, "Blues is about the journey, it's about speaking honestly from your heart. It's a music of hope. No matter what cards you have been dealt — either the cards you started out with in this life, or the cards you're holding now — if it's not a good hand, you can overcome it. Hopefully I'll make you laugh, cry and think," he says. "But most of all, I hope I make you feel, because that's what this music is all about."
A must for blues fans, for newcomers to the blues way of life, A Soul to Claim is an entrée into the world of blues, which for Doug MacLeod is an optimistic, fun-loving world worth living in at least for the duration of this album.
The way Doug sees it, "Blues is about the journey, it's about speaking honestly from your heart. It's a music of hope. No matter what cards you have been dealt — either the cards you started out with in this life, or the cards you're holding now — if it's not a good hand, you can overcome it."
"Hopefully I will make you laugh, cry, think," he says. "Most importantly, I hope I make you feel, because that's what this music is about."
Doug MacLeod, guitars, vocals
Dave Smith, bass
Rick Steff, keyboards
Steve Potts, drums