Digging Dougmore, From Brooklyn to the ‘Outerboros’
“The bluegrass scene in Brooklyn has been in my family since I was a teenager,” innovative musician Dougmore tells Brooklyn Roads. “I’m always awestruck by how much there is to learn, and how Brooklyn is a garden for growth beyond compare.”
Born Douglas Goldstein, he grew up in a traditional Jewish family and his musical upbringing began with the Jewish folksongs he learned at a religious school. His family also frequently saw Broadway musicals, “and those favorites filled the soundtracks of long road trip vacations,” he says.
When his parents offered to pay for guitar lessons, a “defiant” (his word) nine-year-old Dougmore surprised them by asking instead for a banjo.
“I learned mostly ragtime and folk songs, then quickly picked up more instruments, ukulele, harmonica, guitar and whatever I could get my hands on,” he tells us. In middle school he discovered The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Stephen Stills, The Grateful Dead, “and all the guitar porn that comes along with such heroes.”
A seminal moment occurred when, at guitar camp, he heard Bela Fleck’s classical Perpetual Motion and Uncommon Ritual albums. Between those works and what he calls the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Americana awakening in the early 2000s, “I was consumed by the worlds of acoustic music … and sunk my teeth into five-string banjo, mandolin, Dobro and guitar picking styles.”
At college he studied the classics of the genre and, he tells Brooklyn Roads, “These stories and songs of old sealed my fate” to not only preserve the traditional forms, but to “stamp my own authenticity and experience upon my work rather than just mine from archives of a borrowed American collective musical consciousness.” This was the “sacred prerogative” that led him to create Outerboros, Dougmore’s debut album, which he will unveil at Rockwood Music Hall on June 12th . Living in Brooklyn was also a contributing factor.
“I’ve been finding some pretty fantastic new spaces and vibrant communities, like [Bushwick’s] Unit J. I used to play at this thrift store called Cool Pony on Franklin Avenue back when they would host these secret weekend late night speakeasy concerts, and that really brought together some phenomenal folks.”
Dougmore tells Brooklyn Roads that he welcomes any chance to collaborate and “observe someone else’s creative process.” Local performers he would love to work with include the Brother Brothers and Sarah Jarosz. They’ve become good friends but have yet to play together, he says. However, “I have had the opportunity to work with more artists in the indie dream-pop/ experimental art-pop realms, like Oliver Hill from Pavo Pavo,” another Brooklyn artist. “We all have so much to show each other, and as a recipient of so much generosity of spirit and art, I’m always thrilled to pay it forward.”