NASHVILLE (March 9, 2011)– Despite the fact that Lee MacDougall and company had driven from North Carolina to Nashville in “non-stop rain”, their excitement over MacDougall’s first United States tour was evident.
“The rain is not dampening our spirits,” MacDougall said as he relaxed on a bar stool in the corner of his dressing room at 3rd and Lindsley – a bar and grill that has hosted the likes of Train, Jason Mraz and KT Tunstall, along with fellow Brit Sam Bradley. “I just want to soak up all the music and get to experience all the local cultures.”
Although only in Nashville for 24 hours, the trio made the most of their time in the Music City. “We went to Tootsies,” MacDougall said. “That place is crazy. It was great.” He added that every bar they visited had a really good band.
Before our interview MacDougall and company spent the day wandering around Broadway, taking in the sights and sounds during a photo shoot. “I just want to soak up all the music. You hear all these things about how great Nashville is and the music. It is the country and western (music) capital of the world. I just like to get into the local culture.
“I’ve been waiting a while to do all of this,” he said. “I hate planning. It takes so long to plan. It’s nice just to be here.”
Ten days into the tour MacDougall said he and guitarist, Rob Hargreaves, weren’t worn out at all but thought the driving might me getting to Keef Allen a bit.
“I’ve done a bit of driving but our tour manager, Keef, is doing most of it, and he is the kind of person that likes to be in charge. Even in the passenger seat he is looking at the road,” MacDougall said. “I think he is getting in to it now. He kind of likes the fact that he has driven across America. But he looks a bit tired.”
MacDougall realizes some fans are making long drives as well, seeing his shows in more than one city and enjoying the kinship it provides.
“I’m really grateful everyone is coming out to see us. I think it is brilliant people are organizing road trips to go alongside our road trip. I think that’s what music is all about – bringing people together and making new friends. It gives you an excuse to go out and have a weekend or a night out,” he said.
MacDougall and his group have received myriad gifts from fans at their shows, including a personalized bottle of Kentucky Bourbon and a bottle of wine. Both were much appreciated since they have had difficulty buying alcohol in some places, despite their passports and other identification.
“I love the personalized stuff with my name on it,” he said. “I never expect any of it and it really warms your heart, especially when people start making things.”
One gift in particular left an impression on him. “I met a girl in North Carolina who, she burns images into wood, and she spent like a month carving my face into this piece of wood. I was like, ‘wow’. I didn’t know what to say. I need something to give back to people. People are so kind and hospitable.”
Life on the road seems to agree with MacDougall, although there have been challenges along the way, like how to open the bottle of wine without a corkscrew, and finding both the time and a place to do their laundry.
“I’m loving it. As long as you get a hot shower in the morning and a few hours (of) sleep and a clean pair of pants I’m fine,” MacDougall laughed. “Everyone’s run out of clean clothes. And literally, this morning everyone was really at their wits-end and I found five clean pairs of boxer shorts that I hadn’t worn yet and it was just like…Christmas. Everyone was so jealous and I was like, ‘look at these….one…two…three…I’ve got five clean pair’. Such a good feeling.” Perhaps a future gift for the trio will be laundry soap.
MacDougall doesn’t really mind searching for laundry, though. Touring suits him.
“I’m looking forward to visiting all the places. Every place is just incredible and has its own cultures and cuisines and style. I just love exploring new places. You meet so many great people on the way. It sounds cliché but the whole touring lifestyle, I think is great.”
After Nashville, MacDougall left for Louisville, Ky., and a few other stops along the way to Texas, where he is performing at South by Southwest this week.
“It’s (SXSW) kind of always the place that is linked with the best so it is kind of flattering really, isn’t it? Because we’re on the bill. We always hold it in high esteem but we’re always just happy to play.”
While Allen drives, Hargreaves takes pictures from the backseat, documenting their travels.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing San Francisco, but then Vancouver as well. I’ve heard so much about Vancouver,” MacDougall said. “I mean, I am excited about all of it. Texas is pretty amazing. All these famous, famous places like Texas and Denver and Vancouver. I’m excited to see all of them.”
When MacDougall’s tour wraps up on April 23 at The Bitter End in New York City (where the tour began in February) they will head off to Europe for a tour, before returning to the U.S. in August. After that, it is back to Europe again.
Fans from all over the world have created Facebook pages in their countries, encouraging MacDougall to tour there. One of the newest pages is the Australia fan page. He has trouble believing that many people are interested in him.
“Yeah, what’s that all about (Australia)? It’s got to be like only two people. I’d love to get to go to Australia, and I definitely think there is a chance of that in the future. This year’s pretty busy, so it’s going to be a while.”
Despite his busy schedule, MacDougall has managed to find a “stolen moment” or two to do some songwriting.
“Literally, we were saying yesterday, I don’t know how anyone finds the time to do it (write on the road) but then I wrote one. Literally, it was yesterday. We were filming this news thing for Live at 9 in Memphis. We had like an hour to kill, and we just started writing this song.”
MacDougall hopes to be able to record an LP at the end of the year. For now, fans can pick up MacDougall’s tour EP, “If Walls Could Talk” when they see him live. Fans of www.butterfliesradio.com can also buy the EP with the listener’s Top 10 Favorite Songs, including his song, “She.”
“It’s great. Thank you very much to the fans for voting for me. I love it,” MacDougall said.
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