Sight Unsound - Mike Check - Doughty”s smooth, funky ethic reaches beyond Soul Coughing

Jul 9, 2008 at 1:01 pm

July 11-13

It’s modern-day folklore: Driving down a lonesome country road, hungry travelers happen upon a lonely, run-down shack. In the shack, the hottest blues band you’ve never heard is tearing up the stage while the owners are cooking up the finest barbecue you’ll ever find.

This weekend’s Blues-n-Barbecue Festival may take the lonely traveler out of that equation, but it does offer a utopia of hot harp playing and even hotter food from all around.

Photo by Jim Wright: Life after Coughing: Mike Doughty has hammered out a pretty successful solo career.
Photo by Jim Wright: Life after Coughing: Mike Doughty has hammered out a pretty successful solo career.

Sticky fingers and smoked meats aside, the festival lineup offers a lot for the distinguishing blues fan. Headlining this year is Albert Cummings, who channels the white-hot guitar playing of Stevie Ray Vaughan with an astonishing amount of ease. It will be easy to push away the plates and concentrate on Cummings’ heroics.

The Blues-n-Barbecue Festival takes place at The Water Tower (3005 River Road). Tickets are $6 before 6 p.m., and $9 after. And gates are open Friday from 5-11:30 p.m., Saturday from 4-11:30 p.m., and Sunday from 2-8 p.m. Call 583-0333 for more info.

Saturday, July 12

In a summer packed with festivals, possibly the most quirky good time is Lebowski Fest, Louisville’s annual celebration of the 1998 Coen brothers film that’s half stoner comedy, half detective story. So who better to join in the celebration of the celluloid hodgepodge than Mike Doughty, who seems intent on creating a musical hodgepodge himself?

Doughty made his name as the frontman of Soul Coughing, which melded funky, upright, bass-driven rhythms with electronic sounds and Doughty’s own beat-poet-cum-mad-rapper persona. On his latest solo album, Golden Delicious, Doughty backs off the electronics and not-quite-rap of his past while still retaining his grooves. 

“What we did in Soul Coughing was more about four musicians working together and combining all of our influences. With (Golden Delicious), I wanted to create something that was more my style,” Doughty says.

His style is more James Brown than James Taylor, but Doughty’s songwriting chops are apparent on Golden. From the lovelorn funkiness of “I Just Want the Girl in the Blue Dress to Keep on Dancing” (complete with na-na-nas that actually work) to “Luminous Girl,” Golden Delicious walks the fine line between an album of bedroom rock for the lonely dork and organic, booty-shaking funk for the stylish girl who everyone wants to either be or be with.

Doughty plays Lebowski Fest’s Garden Party at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Executive Lawn (911 Phillips Lane). Tickets are $15.  

Jason Bugg is a freelance writer based in Asheville, N.C. Contact [email protected]