Doc Fell plays tracks from Scissor Tail, talks about music as a social & community activity, and paints a picture of life in Tahlequah. OK.
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About Doc Fell
Doc Fell interview recap
Putting the album together
Doc Fell talks about putting the album together in his home town of Tahlequah, Oklahoma. They used a local recording studio called Monotone Studios. He said it was a two year project that started very simply but then blossomed into a full record. He said they went in many different directions on the album but it has some cohesiveness too. He says they’ve had good success getting it played around their area and they’re trying to get it out further.
The first gig
Calvin asks Doc Fell to tell the story of the first time Doc Fell & Co. played a gig for pay.
Doc Fell laughs and says,
“I’m not sure we got paid. I think the first the we played I think we got paid was in tacos and beer! … I’d started out playing music six or seven years ago. At that time we were doing more of a rock cover band. I’d never performed a lot live. I had some friends who wanted to do this so we got that off the ground. And yea we got paid in tacos and beer and I remember those performances because I was petrified beyond belief. Things transitioned for me when I moved from my old home town to Tahlequah and took a new position. The band broke up and we didn’t have a lot going on. I’d written a little bit of music on my own. My wife gave me inspiration to start writing more on my own and get out and play my music instead of just the same old thing. That was probably four years ago. Here in Tahlequah people are receptive to people having their own independent spirit and performing their own songs and not having to do covers. A lot of places I’d played before were opposed to original music. A lot of the bigger bars, they just wanted to hear covers. Bue here in Tahlequah several of the venues were proponents of original music. So they’d let us get up there and if we wanted to play an entire two hours or three hours of original music, they didn’t care as long as it sounded alright. So we pushed through and that’s where Doc Fell & Co was born. It’s like anything you name a band and it kind of falls apart and you name it again and you just keep trying. Eventually I decided to go with Doc Fell, which is what people call me. and then whoever I could get to join me on stage, that’s where the “and Company” comes from.”
“Cradle To Grave”
Calvin asks Doc Fell to set up “Cradle To Grave.” He says,
“That’s the first song that I wrote that I knew was going to be on the album. It may have a lot of cliches in it. But I thought about starting at the cradle and ending at the grave I thought about all the advice people tell you probably things that you want to tell people in one song just kind of let them know how to live their life and what to look out for. I like the harmonies in this song. I like the guitar licks that kind of came along in it. and it developed into a very cool track and had a lot of people like it coming off the top.
[Calvin plays “Cradle To Grave” from Scissor Tail by Doc Fell & Co.]
Good Hearted Woman
Calvin notes the line in “Cradle To Grave” about the good hearted woman and asks Dc Fell if it’s autobiographical.” He says,
“Absolutely yeah. If it wasn’t for her I probably never would have gotten to the point of recording an album or getting to this point were I performed live. I was opposed to doing much with my music career after things had wound down and the way things had gone before. But she’d heard me sing and she knew my songs. And she said, ‘you write well and you sing well and you need to keep pushing yourself.’ She twisted my arm, let’s put it that way. “
Calvin asks her name and if there’s anyone else in the household. Doc Fell says,”
Kira. And we’ve got a lot of children here. We’ve got six kids between us both. [laughs] That keeps us busy. They like to sing along and play and they’re all the biggest fans. So that made it easy to be able to come home and play them little snippets of the album as it was coming along and get to hear their opinion. Having instant fans all the time is always nice. “
Calvin asks if any of the kids are showing an inclination for the rock & roll lifestyle. Doc Fell says,
My oldest daughter Hannah, she’s 16, and she’s picked up the guitar over the last year and has really blossomed with it. She’s not into the song writing so much, but she’s really into the performing and I’ve been able to get her up on stage after a few of my shows and she typically steals the spotlight, so it’s a little bit embarrassing. But she’s got some good pipes on her and a lot of confidence for being young. It kind of makes me wish I’d been that way when I was that age.”
Calvin notes that Doc Fell’s story is a reminder that music is not just a profession. It’s a community activity and a social activity. Doc Fell says, “
It’s easy to fall into the business side of things or see it as a different way. But definitely for me it’s a family activity and a community activity and definitely a way to give to our community and people locally and take them away from mundane day to day stuff and transport them away for a little while. It give people something to rally around and support. It’s another way to be involved in the community
Calvin asks Doc Fell to set up “Pearl Snaps.” He says,
“It was the hardest song on the album to record for some reason. I could never lay the guitar tracks and vocals and get them synced up right. The third time we got it but I’d given up the second time. I’d said, ‘forget it we’re going to do a different song.” My producer said, ‘Let’s try it one more time.’ And we nailed it. And then I said, ‘you know, I kind of hear this sound of the accordion in there’ and we kinda got this feel going and it turned into a cajun waltz. And we even have a little bit of washboard. It’s kind of drowned out in there Bill Erickson laid those down for us. Between the accordions and the mandolin and the banjos and the guitars it give it a neat plucky waltz sound to it. It is actually a love song, inspired by my love for pearl snap shirts. But when you hear the song I think you’ll understand how it’s a love song.”
[Calvin plays “Pearl Snaps” from Scissor Tail by Doc Fell & Co.]
The Tahlequah Scene
Calvin asks Doc Fell to tell us a little bit about the Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He says, “
We’re in northeast Oklahoma. We’re not too far away from Muskogee, of course Merle Haggard area and John Fullbright area. Turnpike Troubadours are band that’s out of Tahlequah, if you’re familiar with them at all. So we’ve got a lot of musical talent from the area. But we’re a river / lake town and a college named NSU. [Northeastern State University] A nice artsy population. A pretty small community around 30,000. Also we’re in Cherokee County where the trails of tears ended, if you’re familiar with the history of the trail of tears. So we have a Cherokee courthouse and we’ve got a lot of Indian culture And that’s Tahlequah in a very small nutshell I’d say There’s a lot more to it than that obviously. In the summer there;s a lot of lake and river traffic. So in the summertime it’s typically a good opportunity to reach new audiences. A lot of people coming into those areas and wanting to hear music and have fun at night.”
“Sweet Sugar Mama”
Calvin asks Doc Fell to set up “Sweet Sugar Mama.” He says,
“That’s one of our on the rock side of things. It was one that I wrote about a friend of mine who’s a travelling musician. And he was travelling through Memphis and he had some car troubles. And I wrote this song about him although it’s probably not historically accurate, I attribute it to him. His name is Joe Mac. Several of the other tracks have more of a traditional country sound. We have steel guitar and fiddle and so forth. And this one is more straightforward rock and guitar and it just tells the story of a guy traveling across the country trying to get back home to Tulsa. I guess one catchy thing that people notice in the end is that it sounds like he talking about a lady the whole time, his “sweet sugar mama,” but actually he’s talking about his guitar.”
[Calvin plays “Sweet Sugar Mama” from Scissor Tail by Doc Fell & Co.]
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