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Doug Segree Interview: Best Local Musician

Jul 19, 2011 03:58AM ● Published by Anonymous

A multi-year winner for Best Local Musician as voted by the readers of What’s Up?, Segree has long been a fan favorite at many local venues, as a solo artist and with his band mates. The Annapolis-based musician takes us through his inspired past and his creative efforts today.

Let’s talk about how your passion for music began. What/who/when were your first exposures to music and who resonated with you the most?

I’ve always loved music and entertaining, even as a little kid running around the neighborhood singing along to everything. Being the youngest of four, being loud was a good way to attract attention. I guess it’s never gone away! My older brothers turned me on to real rock stars like Van Halen, The Who, Queen, Cheap Trick. I had their posters on my walls and wanted to be just like them. There is something larger than life, to be a kid experiencing the power of music for the first time.

When did you develop an appreciation for live music (concerts) and were there any memorable ones that influenced you as an artist?

I was very fortunate to see Van Halen in 1984 as my first concert; yeah, showing my age! I will say that it kind of ruined the next few shows I saw because they put on such an incredible performance. It was general admission at the Capital Center. I got out of school early and went with a good friend and his mom; saved all my newspaper money to buy the program and T-shirt! Since then, I’ve seen so many different bands, styles, and shows.

There really is nothing compared to a live performance. You can’t get the same experience listening to recordings. Some of my favorite live bands are Dave Matthews Band, Peter Gabriel, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen.

When did you first pick up a guitar and begin to play/compose songs?

I started playing in eighth grade and never looked back. I used to bug anyone and everyone who played the guitar to teach me whatever they could. I recently bought back my first electric guitar, a Fender Mustang; similar to what Kurt Cobain used to play. Turns out, my next door neighbor’s cousin, or something like that, ended up with my guitar, and it was collecting dust, so I offered to take it off his hands. Pretty cool to get that back.

In high school I wrote some songs for class and friends; mostly funny, goof off tunes. Didn’t really start writing seriously until I moved down to Gainesville, Florida.

What is your educational background, and how did your path towards becoming a performer evolve?

I have a Bachelor degree with a major in music marketing and classical guitar from James Madison University, in addition to a MBA from University of Florida. I was hoping for a career in the music business, but an internship fell through at BMI Music and I started playing gigs more and more to pay the bills. Next thing I know, I’m a full time musician. I had played in bands in college, but I didn’t get the songwriting bug until I lived in Gainesville. I started writing while in grad school and playing open mic nights trying out new material. What an amazing music scene the South had back then.

Take us through the songwriting process: how do you compose a song and what would be a favorite example of that process?

For me, inspiration, melody, and vibe come first. Then the real craft is making sense of what you just did. For example, I’ll come up with a chord progression and a melody with some words, whether they make sense or not, and just go with it. Follow instinct. Then I’ll go back and basically try to interpret what I am feeling and hope to capture that in the lyrics. For me, that is the craft and the challenge in writing songs.

Do you experience “aha moments” when writing music, in the studio, or performing live?

Sure, playing music is like any other craft. There are moments that inspire and help you through the times that don’t. The funny thing is that sometimes you may have a musically amazing night that doesn’t seem to resonate to the audience, while other nights you may feel less “musical” and the audience loves it. Go figure.

What are some of your own most memorable performances?

Wow, there are many performances that stay with me. I have been honored to sing the National Anthem at FedEx Field multiple times in front of 90,000 people, in addition to having it aired live on national TV to millions in 2007. The band has played some great shows, including a Maryland Hall performance that we recorded and released as the album Live, One Night Only a few years back. I’ve had some great band shows at the Rams Head On Stage and opened for some great artists like Dave Matthews, Edwin McCain, Sister Hazel, and Matchbox Twenty, to name a few. I will say that one of the most memorable performances was playing for the kids at the Summit School in Edgewater a few years ago.

Do you ever get nervous before a concert? How do you tame that energy?

Sometimes. It can depend on the gig. But once the show starts, the feeling of performing quickly removes any nervous feelings I may have had. For me, the best way to tame the nerves is to try and engage the audience and enjoy the ride.

Are there any contemporary artists you admire, i.e. who do you listen to when at home or driving?

I am always searching for new and inspiring artists, not necessarily musically, but just to enjoy. At the end of the day, I am a fan of good music (to me). Some “contemporary” artists that I admire include John Mayer, Edwin McCain, Guster, Dave Matthews, to name a few. When driving around in my car I tend to go more old school: The Cars, Thin Lizzy, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen, The Alarm…unless my daughter demands “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

What do you hope an audience takes away from you (and your band’s) performance?

Honest show, great music, good songs, pro performance, good feelings, smiles, hope, and fun.

What plans do you have for the near future (touring, projects, albums, etc)?

I’ve recently released a new website and recorded new material over the past three years, releasing it a batch at a time. I have also started working on a children’s record, which should prove to be a lot of fun!

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