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Pat and Doug
Pat and Doug
Doug, Edwin Coleman III (drums) and Willy Barber (bass)
Doug, Edwin Coleman III (drums) and Willy Barber (bass)
01/12/2023

Doug Rowell remembrance by Pat McDougall

Guitarist Doug Rowell passed on this week. Here is a remembrance by keyboardist/composer Pat McDougall.

As we all deal with this painful loss, here’s yet another [long] Doug Rowell story. Back in October I had managed to get basic tracks recorded for the 11 songs I was planning to include on my upcoming album, and things were progressing nicely toward wrapping up the main production work and moving on to the mixdown stage. But something was nagging at me.
 
A couple months earlier I had written a new song; this was one of those rare ones that kind of write themselves while you practically just stand by and watch it happen. I really, really liked this song and I felt like it had tons of potential, but I had decided to put it on the back burner and not try to include it on this release. See, it’s not a blues song; it’s not even a soul or rhythm & blues song. If it can be labeled, I suppose maybe it would be pop/rock or something like that. So my thinking was that if I was trying to create a cohesive collection of songs that would hold together, maybe this tune wasn’t quite right for that.
 
Anyway, as my co-producer Jimi Bott and I were close to settling on that batch of 11 songs, there was this voice in my head whispering, “Heyyyyy, but what about that new one? It’s pretty cool. Shouldn’t it go on the record?” It was persistent enough that one day during a lull, I mentioned to Jimi that I had this One More Song.
 
He was intrigued, so I just played the piano and sang it for him. Ever the supportive collaborator, Jimi said it sounded like a pretty good song and that I should find a way to flesh it out into a fuller arrangement to better illustrate the feel I had in mind for it. I suggested it might be worth bringing in some musicians who hadn’t yet worked on the record, to give the song a fresh feel and let it turn into whatever felt right for it. Without having to think about it much, Jimi suggested that his good friend Doug Rowell could be a perfect choice to start the ball rolling.
 
I knew Doug from having played gigs with Karen Lovely and Lisa Mann that he was part of, plus jams and other events, and he’d been very kindly complimentary of my work on the Rae Gordon Band releases. So I got in touch with him about the song, he was interested in helping out, I feverishly created a rough demo in Logic with fake guitars and a generated drum track, and sent that to him as a sketch of what I had in mind. Not long afterwards, on Halloween in fact,
 
Doug had me out to his place to listen to the demo together and talk and play through things that he might do to enhance the song.
That meetup about a song (see photo) turned into life stories, shared experiences, geeking out on vintage keyboards and recording software, a lunch of delicious chicken soup courtesy of Grace, tons of laughter, and oh yeah – great and productive ideas for my song, including the obvious selections of Willy Barber and Edwin Leon Coleman III to round out the band for recording it. I won’t soon forget that daylong hang…or, sadly, the mutual agreement that we should do it again sometime soon.
 
A couple weeks later Doug sent me a new version of the demo with his kickass guitars playing killer rhythm parts, slipping in tasty fills, playing double lead lines…just generally making the song suddenly badass in a way I hadn’t foreseen. This demo provided the road map for the session we convened at Roseleaf Recording on November 29th, also pictured here. Something was in the air that night, because those three guys took a rough demo and an arrangement sketch and turned it into a SONG.
 
They also caused that voice in my head to say, “See? There you go. It belongs on the record.” While I’m very excited about every song in the project, this newest one has me walking around humming it, singing it, air-drumming Edwin’s fills and windmilling Doug’s guitar parts – I’ve just been feeling so eager to get it into everybody’s earholes.
 
And now? Well, now it has suddenly taken on a weightier, bittersweet significance, since as Jimi has pointed out, it may be Doug’s last recording. I’m so grateful to Doug (and to Willy, Edwin and Jimi) for bringing my song to life, and now I REALLY want everyone to hear it. In a weird twist, when I got the news about Doug yesterday
 
I was in the middle of a photo session for the new album’s cover art. My album won’t be released until March or April at this point, but I will be releasing “Always Wanted To” as a single in advance of the full album. The song, of course, will be dedicated to Doug.
Thanks for reading. Others have said this, and I concur: given what a generous and loving human Doug was, one way to remember him is to practice those qualities with others. It feels a bit unseemly to quote oneself, but dammit, these lines keep feeling timely and relevant:
 
Reach out a hand to those who can use it
Live your life before you lose it.
I love you, Doug.

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Comments

Lori Breese

Nothing but good things to say about Doug. Genuine, and a INCREDIBLE Guitarist and Musician. My Heart is Saddened truly. Xposed 1989

Kina Kitamura

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linda and randy cole

we just heard about Doug last night. We danced to his music for many years at Trails End. He was such a great man, always laughing and enjoying his surroundings. We will miss him dearly.

joshua koplin

Thanks for sharing this story! Doug was a good friend, kick ass guitar player and an even better person.

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