October 27, 2011

Making Noise: Sings, plays lead, writes ...

... but he still needs musical friends

By Aimsel Ponti aponti@pressherald.com
News Assistant

Folk-rock outfit Welterweight may be better described as the well-accessorized solo project for singer-songwriter Doug Cowan. He wrote six terrific songs, called upon a posse of local musician friends and laid the tracks down, giving them a home on a self-titled EP. To celebrate the occasion, Cowan and the aforementioned posse will be playing a show at Bubba's Sulky Lounge. Cowan delivers the lowdown.

click image to enlarge

Doug Cowan, the heavyweight behind Welterweight, has an EP-release gig at Bubba's Sulky Lounge Nov. 10.

Courtesy photo


WHEN: 8 p.m. Nov. 10

WHERE: Bubba's Sulky Lounge, 92 Portland St., Portland

HOW MUCH: $5 (includes a copy of the EP); ages 21 and older

INFO: myspace.com/welterweightrock


"The Mighty Sparrow," Ted Leo

"Barrier Reef," Old 97's

"Pawn Shop Ain't No Place for a Wedding Ring," Whiskeytown

"Five-Cornered Drone," Yo La Tengo

"Home by Saturday," Hayden

"Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)," Rolling Stones

"That's How I Escaped my Certain Fate," Mission of Burma

"Knock it Right Out," Paul Westerberg

TURN YOUR RADIO DIAL to 102.9 WBLM every Friday at 8:30 a.m. to hear Aimsel Ponti wax poetic about her top three live music picks for the week with the Captain and Celeste.

You're the lead singer and lead guitarist, right?

Yes, and I'm the primary songwriter. It's a solo project, but I feel really uncomfortable about it being a solo project, so I gave it a name and then invited people I've played near -- but not with -- for a lot of years.

You and Jose Averye go way back, and your voices work so well together. Is that why you asked him to be involved with this project?

Jose's voice is so particular and identifiable and really strong. It's kind of an ear candy for me to be able to do this thing with him. We call him "The Exciter" in the studio. When everything seems kind of boring, bring in Jose.

Who will be on stage with you at Bubba's?

Hopefully, everybody that I recorded with. I'll have two drummers, a stand-up bass player plus an electric bass player, somebody playing harmonica, somebody playing banjo. It's gonna be a bit of a circus.

On the back of the CD, you write about taking guitar lessons and ignoring everything but three-barre chords. For non-musical people, what does that mean?

It's when you use just one formation and you use your index finger to barre all the other strings, and you can go up and down the fret. It's basically what people do to play fast without having to change their chordal pattern. It's what punk bands use.

How does this inform your songwriting?

I like to write folk songs and put them into rock songs, which is completely inappropriate because a lot of stuff gets lost in the volume, but I can't seem to stop doing that.

Where did some of the inspiration come from for the songs on this EP?

A lot of these songs are kind of school-based songs. I was working as a counselor in a school system and still am, and so that's my environment. Then there's a little bit of stuff from my life and people I know.

What can you tell us about the song "Girl Friday"?

It's a song about the challenges of being a single mom, so it's a single-girl power song written by a boy.

"Remember the Maine" references the legendary WWI battleship, but it isn't about that at all, is it?

It really has to do with the first drummer from Welterweight. He's from Texas and moved to Maine for a relationship and hated it, and he left the relationship and the state, so it's kind of an ode to him.

The other song that references a famous ship is "Mutiny on the Titanic." What's that one about?

That song is about the consequences of successful complaining and the work you have to do after you complain.

What artists inspire the heck out of you?

I'm hugely influenced by Vic Chestnutt. He sets the bar so high. Another one of my favorite songwriters is Loudon Wainwright III. He's always daring, funny and poignant. I just love him.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:




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