In the Presence of a Troubadour

It’s great to be at a show where everyone is there to see the
performer. Such is the case at the Sings Like Hell series, which
isn’t as much about a “scene” as it is about music fans coming out
to listen to new voices or longtime favorites. So the atmosphere is
always electric, because SLH fans go to the beautiful Lobero
Theatre to get involved with great music. As it should be.

Scotsman Dougie MacLean (that’s “Doo-gie”), who played Saturday
night, comes from a different style and tradition of performer. He
sings his mature and lovely songs, and plays his acoustic guitar
with gorgeous and lush perfection — but who doesn’t? What sets
apart Dougie MacLean from his singer/songwriter peers is that from
the moment he shambles on stage in baggy jeans and long hair, he’s
got the audience in his palm. He smiles, tells jokes, talks about
where he’s from, makes fun of himself, says “wee” a lot, and stops
songs to tell more jokes. So we’re all laughing and feeling
charmed, and then he sings an achingly beautiful song about the way
the wind comes off the Atlantic and slams into the “wee” village in
Scotland he calls home, and folks in the audience are probably near
to tears; and then the song ends and he tells another joke and
folks in the audience are again near to tears only because they’re
laughing at the image of tourists that have biked for two days
against said wind and have gone only two miles.

Taken individually as a craftsman of intricate, sensitive songs,
or only as a storyteller with a Scottish accent, MacLean probably
doesn’t stand out. But he does both, quite powerfully, and when the
600 of us in our seats are running this gamut of emotions that he
elicits, well, it’s a whole different story. Another fine show in
the inimitable Sings Like Hell series.


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