Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Blues Man - Monroe's Doug Duffey promotes Louisiana music around the world

Blues Man

Monroe's Doug Duffey promotes Louisiana music around the world

Doug Duffey Portrait at Enoch's   

Monroe native, Doug Duffey, has made a name for himself as a professional, international musician. But, even after performing at festivals and touring in Europe, Duffey can often be found playing in Monroeat Enoch's Irish Pub. / Emerald McIntyre/The News-Star

Aug. 31, 2013 

What: Doug Duffey solo performance
When: 9:30 p.m. Sept. 20
Where: Enoch’s Irish Pub & Café, 507 Louisville Ave.
Info: 388-3662

Doug Duffey isn’t a morning person. He will be the first to admit this, with a good-natured laugh. And who can blame him — he’s been a professional musician since he was 14 years old. How many late-night gigs does that make? Two thousand? Ten thousand?
Born and raised in Monroe, Duffey got his start in the 1960s, playing in rock bands at area recreation centers, school dances, even a skating rink. Today, he has a dozen CDs to his name and his own Wikipedia page, and he has been inducted into two music halls of fame.
Vocalist, pianist, composer — Duffey has performed at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Louisiana Folklife Festival. Add to that his 20 years touring Europe, playing in England, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Denmark, even twice in the American embassy in Moscow. These days, when in Europe, he often performs in Switzerland, in concert halls, five-star hotels and festivals. He was recently named an honorary member of Mahogany Hall in Bern, a legendary Swiss jazz club.
During his annual European tours, his band is called the Doug Duffey International Soul Band. Along with Duffey (piano and vocals), the troupe includes Kelvin Bullen (guitar), Sebastian Niessner (bass) and Hani Ali (drums), three international musicians who were born in Trinidad, Switzerland, and Egypt respectively.
“We’re like a delta blues band,” Duffey says, “because we’re all from a different delta. I’m from the Mississippi Delta; Hani’s from the Nile Delta; Kelvin’s from the Thames Delta; and Sebastian’s from the Limmat Delta, which is the river that runs through Zurich.”
If you ask Duffey to describe his music, he’ll hesitate a moment, not wanting to be pigeonholed. True — his CDs range all over the map, in an astonishing variety of genres. Yet there’s often a strong link to Louisiana and the South, and Duffey finally answers your question with “folk, jazz, blues, soul.” (He has numerous music videos on YouTube. Further information can be found at dougduffey.com.)
Duffey was in his twenties when he began playing music all across the United States: Colorado, Las Vegas, Los Angles, Nashville, Little Rock, New Orleans, New York. He recorded his first single in Nashville in 1970. Later, in Los Angeles, he wrote songs for and performed with a long list of music stars — names like George Clinton, Funkadelic, Rare Earth, Keith Richards, David Byrne, Herbie Hancock. . . .
Louisiana singer Marcia Ball has twice covered Duffey’s song, “If It Ain’t One Thing.” Perhaps best known among Duffey’s many compositions are “New Orleans Rain” and “Louisiana.”
Duffey lived and worked in New Orleans for many years, and some of his songs have names like “Carnival Time in the City” and “Home Sweet Bourbon Street.” And he likes nothing better than to sing a classic like “St. James Infirmary” or to give a unique twist to “House of the Rising Sun.” No doubt it was his long New Orleans sojourn that enriched the Louisiana branch of his music — a mélange of north and south. Today, he is based in Monroe and lives in a house built by his grandfather in 1920.
As if a lifetime career as a professional musician were not enough, Duffey is also an artist and photographer, his work appearing in galleries and solo shows in the United States and in Europe. (He’s been taking photos since he was 13 when his mother loaned him her Brownie camera.) He has published two art books: “European Collages” and “Louisiana Americana.”
With decades of music-making behind him, Duffey isn’t showing any signs of slowing down; in fact, he says that he’s pushing into new territories with a growing interest in jazz and improvisation. He has a new CD in the works, upcoming gigs on the schedule and a European tour set for December. Area fans will be able to hear him in the annual Celtic Festival in Kiroli Park this October. Before that, he’ll perform a solo concert at Enoch’s Irish Pub & Café in Monroe on Sept. 20.
This northeastern Louisiana native got his start in high school in rock bands with names like “The Secrets” and “Thursday’s Children,” then moved on to playing old-time Monroe venues like the Dynasty Lounge and the Saddle & Spur, then voyaged through America from east coast to west, all the while perfecting his craft. It has been a long, circuitous journey, but today, Monroe’s Doug Duffey plays to loyal audiences both in Europe and the United States, still making music as a soul-filled, hard-driving, Louisiana bluesman.
William Caverlee has been writing features for The News-Star since 2010. He is a contributing editor of The Oxford American Magazine and the author of "Amid the Swirling Ghosts and Other Essays" (University of Louisiana at Lafayette).

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