As music critic for his high school newspaper, Greer went to every concert that came through the area. He loved to read song lyric magazines and dissect his favorite songs. â€œTo me, the most important thing was, â€˜whatâ€™s the song about, whatâ€™s it say,â€™â€ recalls Greer. Early songwriting influences were Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin, Hank Williams, Sr. and Rod Stewart. â€œThose guys could paint such a picture, tell such a story, all in about four minutes or less, well, I wanted to be able to do that.â€
The economic decline that hit Port Arthur (â€œit wasnâ€™t Flint, Michigan, but it was closeâ€) gave Greer plenty of pictures to paint. He saw his town change from a place where a man could always find a good job at the refinery to a shell of its former self, with empty buildings and prostitutes taking up areas where families kept storefronts and homes. He saw how this erosion of the American dream could drive a man to be less than perfect. Seeing some of his role models driven to alcoholism and betrayal broke his heart. Writing about it was the best therapy: â€œI was the only guy I knew who kept a diary,â€ laughs Greer.
Attending UT Law School in Austin in the early â€˜90â€™s, Greer was befriended by neighbors Mark Lyon and Keri Leigh of the local blues group the Blue Devils, and received a musical education just as much as a legal one while in Austin. â€œWe went to all the best shows,â€ says Greer. â€œJohn Mayall and the Bluesbreakers at the old Liberty Lunch, John Hammond at the Cactus CafÃ©, South by Southwest in its formative years, we saw a lot of good music then.â€ Seeing so many performing songwriters who could turn their experiences into art inspired Greer.
While practicing law in Beaumont in the â€˜90â€™s, Greer set up a music booking agency and developed friendships with various local acts that soon led him to the stage. He became lead singer and songwriter for Amos Moses, a roots rock band with a sound somewhere between the Old â€˜97â€™s and Son Volt.
Several club dates over the years earned Amos Moses regional success, but the group eventually disbanded for personal reasons.In 2004 Greer relocated to Austin to get serious about his passion for writing and music. While still new to town he was introduced to local producer Michael Ramos, who came to produce Greerâ€™s debut album, â€œJust A Man.â€
In â€œJust A Manâ€ Greer presents rich stories and articulate character sketches examining the plight of the average flawed man, largely drawn from his days in Port Arthur. The delivery has a feel similar to Ryan Adams, Steve Earle, James McMurtry or Joe Ely, but with a musical twist largely influenced by Ramos.
â€œMichael and I discovered there was a lot of common ground between his Latin and my Cajun musical roots, specifically the use of accordion and keyboard,â€ says Greer. â€œOn this album we decided to stay true to that, to leave out the fiddle and pedal steel and use more accordion, keyboard and piano, to sound more like where I came from. Itâ€™s alternative country rock, but run through the grinder of Southeast Texas.â€
The album was mixed and mastered by Mark Hallman at Congress House Studio in Austin, and after taking a personal interest in the project, Hallman has helped guide Greer through his new musical town.
â€œTo move to Austin and meet guys like Michael and Mark, and to have all of these accomplished musicians buy into what Iâ€™m trying to do, itâ€™s been a thrill and an honor. I canâ€™t wait to get out there this summer and add another flavor to country rock in Austin,â€ says Greer.
The Douglas Greer 2006 debut album â€œJust A Manâ€ features Ramos (John Mellencamp) on keyboards, accordion and percussion, Hallman (Carole King) on piano and backing vocals, David Grissom (the Dixie Chicks) on lead guitar, Tommy Shannon (Stevie Ray Vaughan) on bass and Michael Longoria (Patty Griffin) on drums.
Beginning in early Summer 2006, Greer and his full band, including, subject to touring schedules, Robert McEntee (Elyza Gilkyson) on lead guitar and backing vocals, Chip Dolan (Bruce Robison) on keyboards and accordion, Mark Andes (Heart) and Don Pryor (Chaparral) on drums, will play several dates in the Austin area to support the project.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Damn Sure Gone
2. People Person
3. Black Train
4. Heaven Into Hell
5. Capitol Hall
6. Road to New Orleans
7. Dry Creek Cafe
8. Kill Me Again
10. Nineteen Ninety-Nine