Article by Tiffany Harelik / Photos by Letitia Smith
Doug Strahan (Stray-Han; two syllables) drove to Austin to join the music scene in 1999. “It was warmer than Illinois and I wanted to learn how to play country,” says Strahan. Upon arrival, he picked up gigs, dug into records, and listened to everyone who was out playing at the time. Wearing a pair of boots he bought with spare change, Doug took off his hat and rolled a cigarette to start our interview.
“No one is untouched by Dylan or Townes,” says Strahan about some of his favorite artists as he takes a pull off his cig, “my guitar playing and song writing influences come from all over.” Inspired by Willie, the Allman Brothers, Rolling Stones, Charlie Rich, Jerry Reed, Tony Joe White, and a list of R&B that would go on for days, his music features a cross section of 70s country and soulful versions of old country songs. In addition to his main project Strahan and the Good Neighbors, Doug plays in three additional bands: Chili Cold Blood, The Memphis Strange and La Tampiquena. The genres he covers include Texas rock, TexMex, cosmic country and beyond.
Doug comes by his guitar talent naturally, as his dad Al plays lead guitar as well. “He (Al) got started in the 60s playing rock and roll and settled into country in the 70s,” says Doug with a genuine grin. “He played every moose lodge, VFW, and anywhere they had long tables and folding chairs where we lived in Illinois.”
Strahan plays a faded Les Paul with a no lacquered finish that he bought at Austin Vintage Guitars. “A buddy of mine that’s always looking for me let me know there was a guitar up there that I might like. I looked around but didn’t see it at first. When I finally saw it, it just looked like me and it belonged together, you know? It was plain, not super flashy… I have played that guitar every single night since then.” He plays the Les Paul in all of his four bands.
“Song writing is about taking phrases, and sayings and flipping them around, thinking of other ways to use it. I like to take a line and change it up,” says Doug. “I’ll Make it Rain” is his most requested song, otherwise he says anything by Gary Stewart are big crowd pleasers. About “I’ll Make it Rain,” he says that he was at point where he wasn’t sure where to take his career. “It’s a song about singing in dingy-ass bars and giving all you got. Between the name and the line “Angels in the Neon come and spread their wings”… people think it’s about a strip club. I’m not above singing about strip clubs but that song is not about strip clubs,” he laughs as he explains the lyrics to Letitia Smith and I in her studio where we are doing his photo shoot. The song is on his album Coal Black Dreams, and Late Night Schemes. You can listen to it here.
Tips for new artists starting out – “Stick with it. Do your goddamn homework.”
Favorite meal in Austin: Evangelines. For lunch get a shrimp po-boy and for dinner everything on the menu is worth your time. I’m not a big sweet tooth guy but they have a killer praline beignet. I also love Kim Fung, Vietnamese place on north Lamar and I get the pho vermicelli.
Favorite beer: Real Ale: Hans Pils
Fun tidbit: Doug was playing a back yard party in his neighborhood with some friends. The band didn’t have a name, but everyone lived close by – so the band name Strahan and the Good neighbors was a logical choice.
February 26, 2017 (Sunday): 3p-5p
Kebabalicious Stage: 1311 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702
Doug says playing in “Tamp” with a bunch of cut ups is a good time. “Every time we get together, the guys have us laughing with good, with deep belly laughs.” Join us 2/26/17 for La Tampiquena to meet the guys, listen to some authentic local music and enjoy a mimosa or two.
DOUG'S MAIN PROJECT:
Strahan and the Good Neighbors (Doug formed in 2013)
Genre: Country R & B – country lyrics with funkier beats
- Listen: www.dougstrahanmusic.com
- Booking: strahanATX@gmail.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DougStrahanMusic/
- Twitter: @DougStrahan
- Doug Strahan – (founder), electric guitar, vocals, songwriting
- Jeff Sanders / Michael Lefkowitz - drums
- Dave Wesselowski / Kris Wade - bass
- Dave “LeRoy” Biller – electric guitar
- Jackie Myers – keys
Chili Cold Blood (Doug joined in 2003)
Genre: Weird ass Texas rock and roll
- Listen: https://chilicoldblood.bandcamp.com/
- Booking: email@example.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChiliColdBlood/
- Twitter: #ChiliColdBlood
- Ethan Shaw – pedal steel guitar (founder), vocals, writer
- Matt Puryear – drums
- Doug Strahan - electric guitar, vocals, writer
Memphis Strange (Doug joined in 2010)
Genre: Rock & Roll Folk/Country Boogie Rhythm & Cut-Loose Blues
- Listen: www.memphisstrange.com
- Booking: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/memphis.strange/
- Twitter: @MemphisStrange
- Johnny Dango, (founder), electric, songwriting
- Jeff Sanders - drums
- Dave Wesselowski - bass
- Doug Strahan – electric guitar, songwriting
- Todd Thompson – keys, songwriting
La Tampiquena (joined in 2010)
Genre: Texmex and cosmic country mixed in with that 70s Austin scene
- Listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNVD9aDucJc
- Booking: email@example.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/latampiqeuna/
- Twitter @latampiquena
- Will Dupuy - upright, co-founder
- Matt Lara - harp and accordion, co-founder
- Michael “Lefty” Lefkowitz (not LEFTkowitz) - drums
- Fletcher Murchison - mandolin
- Doug Strahan - electric