Douglas Lowell Blevins is a Pittsburgh based singer songwriter who mixes blues, folk and Americana to create original music in the vein of Bob Dylan, The Black Crowes and JJ Grey. Check out his latest release, the beautiful “Cruel Variations” EP as I want to thank him for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.
The first album you ever bought?
The first time I remember going to a music store specifically to buy something I wanted was when my parents bought me “Revolver” by The Beatles on cassette around Christmas 1990. I was nine and hearing The Beatles for the first time had turned my world upside down. Pittsburgh radio station 96.9 had decided to do a 36-hour Beatles-only program over Christmas that year, and I sat by the radio capturing it onto cassettes the whole time. My dad decided that I needed to own “Revolver”, and of course he was right.
Your last album bought?
I picked up the “Leave It Alone / Buried Alive” 45 by the Harlan Twins and the “Black Mark” LP by Host Skull from Wild Kindness Records online. Both are great!
Favorite album of all time?
Tough to decide, but Derek & the Dominos’ “Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs,” The Beatles’ “Revolver,” and The Black Crowes’ “The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion” are always battling it out for first place.
Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I don’t really have a least favorite one, since I get rid of anything I can’t connect with, or ignore it altogether. Most disappointing would have to be “Live at Fillmore West” by Aretha Franklin, because I’ve bought two different used LPs of it, both flawless looking, and both do the classic “broken record” skip… during the same song. It’s a musically stunning album though, no disappointment there.
First concert attended?
Keith Richards & The X-pensive Winos, with Soul Asylum, at the Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh, February 1993. I was not quite twelve years old, and felt like I’d walked into another dimension. Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum ran around their entire stage space during a solo on one song, and I figured it was the most “rock & roll” thing ever. Then Keith & the Winos walked onstage, and were most definitely the most “rock & roll” thing ever.
Charlie Parr. The man does not disappoint. Possibly the most honest, straight-from-the-heart folk/blues you’ll ever experience.
Favorite concert ever?
The Black Crowes at the Palumbo Center, 11/6/96, showed me as a teenager what live music was all about. It also helped that I had a front row seat. Sleater-Kinney in Cleveland, fall of 2002, is also really difficult to top. Standing just a few feet away from Carrie Brownstein in full force will leave an impression.
Least favorite concert?
I once played a show at DV8 Espresso Bar in Greensburg, PA, circa 2004, which was supposed to be with two other acts. When I arrived, one of the other musicians took one look at me and said, “You probably should play first. Because I’m really good.” I went first, because arguing that logic is impossible. I didn’t play too well, but every gig is a learning experience, right? Then the arrogant guy played, and drove every person in the shop away by messing up every song and stopping, then saying “just kidding!” or “never mind.” The last act decided to play in the parking lot, meaning none of the friends they brought helped out the venue by purchasing anything. It was way too much ego for one show. DV8 is a really nice coffee shop though, and a nice space to play in.
Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I love this city. Pittsburgh is a wonderful place to be, full of down-to-earth people proud of our history and excited for our future. Musically, there’s an enormous wealth of talent across all genres here, and plenty of nice venues to experience it all in. It’s a great place to be!
Thanks, Douglas. Too much ego for a coffee shop? Love it! Please message me the name of that douche…