Doug Burr is an American singer/songwriter born in Dallas, TX in 1972. He grew up in a Southern Baptist family in nearby Denton, TX, where he still resides today. Doug first picked up a guitar as a teenager and started writing songs in his late teens, though it wouldn’t be until much later when he would drag his songs out of his bedroom and onto local stages around 2000 in a band he put together called, The Lonelies. His unique vocal, his ability to be nonchalant yet still commanding, and his story telling through song are what did – and still does – win over new fans.
Buddy Holly, Springsteen, Young, Blind Willie Johnson, Bill Mallonee, and Tom Waits are among some of the artists that bear great influence on Burr’s song writing. Glimpses of all shine through from time to time across his various recordings if you listen closely. Discouraged by intra-band politics and lack of a band member concensus, in 2003 Doug struck out on his own, entered the recording studio, and self-released his first record, The Sickle & the Sheaves. This was his own version of a Gospel record, inspired by the death of a friend who was a local pastor. The lead track, “Meet You in the Sunrise,” was played live for the first time at his friend’s funeral. Another track, “Dark As The Night,” would later go on to win first place in the Americana category of the International Songwriting Competition.
2007 would see the first properly released record entitled, On Promenade, released as a joint effort by Dallas based Spune, and the West Coast based Velvet Blue Music, which remains his label to this day. The record was heavily influenced by Greil Marcus’s Mystery Train. Featuring the song “Graniteville,” which memorializes the Graniteville, SC’s 2005 train derailment disaster in Graniteville, SC. The record struck a great balance between his folk and country influences, and pop sensibilities. Songs from this record would be featured in various national TV shows, national radio, and countless glowing reviews. An actual highlight of Doug’s career would be an email from Greil Marcus himself requesting a copy of the record !
In June of 2009 Burr would return to his religious roots and record an experimental project called, The Shawl. This project required a special place with a sacred feel so a plan was made for it to be recorded in Tehuacana, TX inside historic Texas Hall (built in 1871), on the property of The Trinity Institute. The owner gave his enthusiastic permission to allow the record to be made there. Britton Beisenherz – who recorded On Promenade – was commissioned to build a remote recording rig and record, engineer, and produce the recording, assisted by Chris Dye. This was an ambitious undertaking in that the material for the record consisted of contiguous verse passages from the book of the Psalms (NASB translation) from the Old Testament Bible which Doug had arranged to music in essentially modern folk-pop stylings. The entire cast of other players on the record were other Texas musicians Doug had come into contact with over the years. Even now, he will occasionally play live shows that consist of only this record straight through from track one to nine.
In 2012 Doug Burr hit his full stride with the recording and release of, O Ye Devastator. This record was directly inspired by Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music (1952), and took a decidedly darker approach than his previous work,though it seemed to be more widely accepted by critics. This is a lush and delicate sounding album, recorded once again by Britton Beisenherz at Ramble Creek Studio in Austin, TX. Songs from this record would see more uses in television and film – and much to Doug’s surprise – multiple uses in MTV shows. This record also contains the track “Topeka” which was commissioned by local film maker Eric Steele to be the title track of his short film by the same name. This record put Doug to work playing more shows and touring with the band, Son Volt.
Next year will see the release of his newest record, Pale White Dove, echoing the themes of Renee Girrard’s, I See Satan Fall Like Lighting, and his theory of violence as the secret soul of the sacred. It sees Doug holding the electric guitar much more then usual, as his Southern Gothic leanings are in full force, and at times on full volume. A 7″ record will be released slightly before the full length that will showcase the non-album track,”Visible Noise,” which Doug was commissioned to write for the short film of the same name. We anticipate nothing but great things for Doug Burr in 2015. So if you are sitting on a pew in an old church and hear something new, or if you hear the noisy clanking of beer bottles and loud voices in the bar become suddenly quiet . . . this might be a sign, that Doug Burr has started to play.