Down Home Blues

Chad Dughi

Chad Dughi

SUPERB FOLKSINGER Chad Dughi returns to Galway for a much anticipated show at The Crane Bar on Thursday August 26th at 9pm.

American singer-songwriter Chad Dughi has been described by former Sweeney’s Men and Planxty member Andy Irvine as “keen as mustard, sharp as a razor and ready for battle”

The Hawaiian guitarist grew up immersed in archive recordings of American folk music and used these as a blueprint when navigating his own musical journey. Playing the songs of Woody Guthrie, the Carter Family and Mississippi John Hurt alongside his own original compositions, he built up quite a repertoire. The journeyman troubadour then made his way across the Atlantic.

Chad first moved to Ireland in the mid 1990s and made his home outside Kinvara, Co. Galway. He became an integral part of the Irish folk scene almost immediately and worked alongside the likes of Arty McGlynn, Johnny Moynihan, Mick Hanly, John Faulkner and Cathal Hayden. Dughi released his debut album Down Home Blues in early 2001 to much critical acclaim.

In 2003 Chad was invited to perform on the same bill as Paul Brady, John Prine, Maura O’Connell, Frankie Gavin and Matt Molloy at the ‘Arty McGlynn: A Celebration’ concert at the Galway Arts Festival. He also featured at the Woody Guthrie 40th Anniversary Celebration concert in Belfast. Dughi was busy in the studio and the album’s Freedom Fries and Phoenix Song Dogs furthered his growing reputation as an artist (as John Prine said ) “going places”

At the end of 2008 the Honolulu native returned to America after a 12 year absence and began work in Colorado and Texas on his fourth studio album. He will, however, be back in Galway next Thursday August 26 at 9pm showcasing some of his new songs at The Crane Bar.

Over the past two years Chad has reconnected with his roots and has been delving further in to the music of the Southern United States. He recorded a set of original songs with two Colorado-based jazz musicians in Denver. “Last year, I went into the studio with two jazz musicians, a pianist and a double bassist, who work in and around Denver,” he says. “We’d never played together before recording but I'd seen them performing live a few times and liked what I’d heard. I’d been messing around on piano and it was making me think about some songs I’d written previously in a totally new and different way. As it turned out, the bassist had worked with bluegrass musician Tim O’Brien, so, although his roots were in jazz, he had an appreciation for folk music. The pianist was as enthusiastic about Bob Dylan as he was about Thelonius Monk. Everything we recorded was done live and most of it was done in one take.”

When Hotpress magazine reviewed one of Chad’s shows in Whelan’s, Dublin, a few years ago they wrote, “He delivers tales of mining disasters and Okie misery with the ardour of a true believer” It is clear that Dughi is following in the fine tradition first popularised by trailblazers such as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt. Chad, though, feels that he is still developing his craft and has a long road to go yet. “Charlie Parker chose alto saxophone because Lester Young played tenor, and Mahler had a fear of composing a ninth symphony because of the precedent Beethoven had set,” he states. “Sometimes, when I’m listening to Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt or Leonard Cohen, I feel like I should have focused on the kazoo! My fourth album is mixed and mastered and I’ve reworked songs such as ‘The Homeless Ground’ from Phoenix Song Dogs. It’s a sort of revised version of my third album, which, although it contains some of my best work, is marred by the inclusion of some songs that don’t have legs to stand on.”

Chad has high artistic and moral standards and was a very vocal opponent of the US Presidency of George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009. Following the example set by the protest singers of the 1960s his second album ‘Freedom Fries’ gave voice to his opposition to the invasion of Iraq. What changes has he seen on his return to the US under Obama? “I’m currently living in (Bush’s Senior Advisor ) Karl Rove’s hometown,” Dughi admits. “Bush was Governor here before he became President. I voted for Obama because I don’t like war or the way that the US throws its weight around internationally. My expectations were not high though. I see Obama on television every day and hear his voice on the radio. It looks and sounds like business as usual to me. ‘Change’ is a big word and like other words such as love, truth, freedom and liberty the meaning can often be ambiguous. Personally, I think (American socialist and philosopher ) Angela Davis would make a great president.”

Through his music, Chad Dughi channels an American ideal and a message that freedom (to paraphrase Kris Kristofferson ) isn’t just another word for nothing left to lose. This coming week Chad will be bound for his home away from home. Is he looking forward to returning to The Crane Bar? “Initially, I tried to get a gig at Le Paradis Gentlemen’s Club but they ridiculed the photo I sent them and argued that my music didn’t suit the décor!” he jokes “Of course I’m looking forward to playing at The Crane. The Crane, Taylor’s, Padraic’s, The Punchbag, Nimmo’s and Neachtain’s were the spots that glued me to Galway for 12 years”

Tickets: €15 (Members: €12.50 )

For tickets phone The Crane on 091-587419 or log on to www.thecranebar.com

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