Sunday, October 20, 2013

Doug Wamble 13 Questions

As a child of Memphis, TN, Doug Wamble has always been surrounded by a vast musical and cultural landscape. From listening to his mother play piano in their Baptist church to his grandfather singing cowboy songs, murder ballads and old time gospel favorites while strumming his guitar, Doug has been immersed in music for his entire life.

After completing two music degrees, Doug decided to head to New York to seek a career as a guitarist and composer.  Appearing on bandstands and recordings with such jazz greats as Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson and Branford Marsalis,  and pop artists such as Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux and Courtney Love, Doug was making a name for himself as a guitarist when he was signed to Marsalis Music/Universal Records, started by Branford Marsalis.

Doug released two critically acclaimed records Country Libations, and Bluestate, which focused not only on his guitar abilities, but on his compositions and soulful vocals. Touring all over the world, Doug has performed as a bandleader at festivals and clubs, and opened for acts such as Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall, Madeleine Peyroux, Branford Marsalis, and the Indigo Girls. As a composer, Doug has been commissioned by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Chamber Music America and has recently composed portions of the original scores for renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns on his films "The Tenth Inning" and "Prohibition."  Most recently, Doug composed the entire score for "The Central Park Five," directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon. This film will be in theatres later this year, and on PBS in 2013.

Which was the first musical sound do you remember?

A toy clock. It had this delicate melody that always made me melancholy...even before I knew what that meant. The lyrics of the song, as it turned out, were later taught to me by my Grandaddy and the song is from the 19th century. It's about a grandson singing of his grandfather's death and it's called "My Grandfather's Clock." I found that same toy a few years ago when I had my son Charles, who is named after my Grandaddy.

What do you dream about?

Stressful situations. Teeth falling out. Falling through ice in the Arctic. That was last night anyway. Sometimes it's sex. Sometimes it's music. No pattern, really. But very vivid. Always vivid.

So, why did you decide to pick up the guitar?

My Grandaddy had one and I liked the idea of it. But I just held it and plucked nonsense until I got serious right before college. But he taught me my first chord and, along with my mom, gave me a love of music early on.

Alma Micic- music, lyrics, vocals ƒ Doug Wamble- production, arrangement, guitar 2013

Which work of your own (or as a sideman) are you most proud of, and why?

I'm really proud of the records I got to make on Branford Marsalis' label. It was a fun time in my life and I loved having a working band. But right now, I'm writing songs with my writing partner for her record, and it's the best thing I've ever done. I'm also honored to collaborate with filmmaker Ken Burns on his projects and provide a small part of his amazing films.

Which is the main border, the main drawback of the guitar?

That it needs amplification to be heard with a drummer.

Carla from Little Known Cure by Jonah Smith ƒ Doug Wamble – Resonator Guitar, Harmony Vocals

 What is the quality you most like in a musician?

Being rooted in a tradition and valuing the greatness before you more than valuing your own individuality. Being obsessed with innovation is a bad thing, in my view. Innovation find you, not the other way around. Roots are the key to the future.

Slide Guitar - Maschine Kit

What are the most challenging aspects of the present musical time?

The de-valuation of recorded music. People will spend 500 bucks every year on the latest iPhone. 2000 on a new MacBook. 700 on a new iPad. All of which they use to listen to music they didn't feel it was worth paying for. I'm not saying it ill change, but it is sad. When I was a kid it made music more important when you saved up to buy it. Now it's a commodity. A disposable item. And the music of today generally reflects that.

Do you play other instruments? Do you approach them differently?

I used to play clarinet pretty well. Recently, because of all the home recording I do, I've gotten into being a better bass player. It's not a guitar. It's a whole other thing. So I'm trying to learn how to get my bass playing to sound right.

Define the sound you're still looking for.

That is wholly undefinable. I have way too many things I'm looking to do over any genres and fields. It's too expansive!

Doug Wamble, slide guitar ƒ Erik Friedlander, cello, electronics

Do you use extended techniques in guitar?

I don't know. I mean, I do some odd things with the slide I suppose. I use this slide/eBow combination a lot. I don't know if that's an extended technique, but I've used to it great effect for a theremin vibe. And I like alternate tunings...but that's about it.

I'm Still Here from Broken Shadows by Chad Eby ƒ Doug Wamble - guitar

Which living artist (music, or other arts) would you like to collaborate with?

Ornette Coleman. Harold Mabern. Dave Grohl. JD Allen. Meshell Ndgeocello. Charley Drayton.

Talk me about Aubrey Ghent.

I heard him in about 1999 or 2000 on a record put out by Ropeadope records featuring a lot of sacred steel players. His "Amazing Grace" changed everything. I don't play lap style, but I immediately went to work integrating his music into my playing. I didn't know Derek Trucks was out there doing it better! But yeah. Aubrey is amazing. Like a singer on his instrument. Depth. Soul. Feeling. No pre-fabricated ideas. Just flowing through that music with the blues.

What’s your latest project about?

My latest record is coming out soon and it's called "Rednecktelectual." I have never done an all instrumental project, so I wanted to do that. This features one guitar, an Amistar resophonic, that I used to make all sorts of sounds. I guess this is maybe extended technique after all? I beat, scraped and hit that thing to make percussion sounds, then processed it and manipulated everything. Put a bass string on it to play bass. All sorts of stuff overdubbed and orchestrated. And a couple of regular solo guitar pieces as well. The title refers to a word I made up to describe my favorite American archetype. The Southern/rustic intellectual. William Faulkner. Twain. Zora Neale Hurston. Shelby Foote. Robert Johnson. People of depth and intellect who carry that down home soul in their work and treat that with the same respect they treat the highbrow. I like that.

Selected Discography

Doug Wamble Bluestate Marsalis Music 2003

Doug Wamble Country Libations Marsalis Music 2005

Geoff Muldaur Private Astronomy - A Vision of the Music of Bix Beiderbecke Deutsche Grammophon 2004

Wynton Marsalis Unforgivable Blackness Blue Note 2004

Branford Marsalis Romare Bearden Revealed Marsalis Music 2003

John Zorn Voices in the Wilderness: Masada Anniversary Edition Tzadik 2003

Cassandra Wilson Traveling Miles Blue Note 1999

Wynton Marsalis Big Train Columbia Jazz 1999