Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends
of West Texas Music
"Indeed, Oglesby's introduction of more
than two dozen musicians who called Lubbock home should be required
reading not only for music fans, but for Lubbock residents and
anyone thinking about moving here. On these pages, music becomes
a part of Lubbock's living history."
Chris Oglesby Interviews
To all the outside
world, Doug Smith may appear to be a "redneck." He
literally does have a red neck; his rosy skin burns easy out
there in the Petersberg, Texas sun. Doug's home outside Petersberg
is northeast of Lubbock County, about ten miles from the old
country church where his daddy grew up going.
Doug Smith may look, sound, and even occasionally smell like a redneck, but I'm here to tell ya' - Doug Smith ain't no redneck. This man has got the soul of Mozart and the heart of Stubbs.
Petersberg is mostly cotton fields, more absolutely plum full of nothing than Lubbock is; Plenty of room for the soul and sound of Doug Smith - West Texas' Premiere Composer and Pianist. No dispute that Doug owns that title, although Doug says, "I prefer to call myself a piano player; Out here in West Texas, if an ol' boy says he's a pianist, folks tend to look at ya awful funny "
Chris: Doug Smith, thanks for inviting me out to Montelongos.
Doug: Sure! You ate like a pig. [Laughs]. Thats one thing we have in common.
Chris: Tell me about when you got started playing piano as a kid.
Doug: I started playin' when I was two years old. It
was on a little organ thats about a couple foot long; a
little Wurlitzer. I still have it in my studio at home.
It was around Christmas time. As a toddler, they didnt
want me - obviously - messin around with the instruments,
so my grandmother - it's beautiful to hear her tell the story
- She says they were all in the kitchen. She was cookin
some food. She said they heard this music comin out of
the hall, yknow.
The weird thing about it - to hear them tell it; and to my knowledge - Ive always played music. Ive never remembered not playing, as long as Ive lived.
They say that I was playin two note chords with my left
hand and melodies with my right when I was two years old. There
was no sittin down and experimentation about, trying to
get the sound.
Chris: Were these tunes that you were making up? Or were they things that you had heard?
Doug: They were things that I had heard like Christmas
songs, melodies, nursery rhyme songs; things that I had heard
as a baby.
So when that happened, my aunt obviously gave me the organ. I took it home, and I was just infatuated with the thing.
I gave my first concert on that organ in the first grade.
I was six years old. I could remember it like it was yesterday,
yknow. It was at Purple Sage elementary school in Kermit.
My teacher had come over to the house - her and my mom were friends
- and she heard me playin. She asked me, "Would you
be willin to play for the class?"
That was on Friday. On Monday, I took my organ up there. And
- Man - I was scared to death cause she told the class
that I was gonna play music, yknow. I got up there and
got my rig set up and began to play.
The neatest thing that I remember about it is; At the end of that day, when I was walking out to where my mom would come get me, I was walkin out to that car and fourth and fifth graders were comin up and goin, "Hey, Smith, that was cool, Man. That was really cool."
Doug: And so right then, I connected with the fact that: "Hey! This music thing connects me with people in a way that there is no other medium to make that connection with."
To this day, everybody Im connected with - even yourself - is because of this music; through this music. Thats the neatest thing. Ive met the greatest people in my life as a result of people that love music- me makin it, composin it, and performin it; And other people benefiting from the exchange; yknow the people that witness it.
Chris: One of the ideas Im pursuin' is this idea of, "Knowing Yourself and Following Your Dreams." So I think it's great that you're aware of how music has brought those blessings into your life.
Are you able tomake a living off of your piano playing?
Doug: Sometimes its very meek. But - Yes. Thats all I do; Its exclusively music.
Sometimes I do shows. I just came off of a show at the Cactus
Theater here in Lubbock.
But mostly recording; Through my records is mainly how I earn my livelihood, at this point .
Chris: Do you do shows outside of Texas? Who is your audience?
Im not sure about that. [Laughs] Actually, most of my work
- performancewise - has been Texas, New Mexico, a little bit
See, I cannot read or write music. Ive never had a piano lesson in my life. So it is crucial that I get my copyrights. Everything that comes through, I sit down, get it in structured form, copyright it, and then publish it all myself, too. I also own my own publishing company, obviously. I publish all my music myself as an independent publisher.
Chris: How are you distributing yourself. Once again, who knows about you? Who do you play for? How are you makin a living doin it?
Chris: Since youre talking about your web-site: I went and looked at it before I came and met you; I saw on your web-page that you really feel that the music is "in" you, and that your music is comin "from God."
Explain yourself; I mean, how are you "hearing God?" Whats comin from God? Do you know what Im sayin?
Doug: I know exactly what youre sayin. Its a very difficult question The reason I give the credit to God is because Like I told you awhile ago; When I was not even two years old, I just began this musical thing. I sat down and I just did it.
Chris: Yea. Thats pretty miraculous. [Laughs.]
Doug: Exactly! In itself.
Now, the reason I say "it comes from God" is because If
If I think about, "Who to give the credit to?" I
cant go to a piano teacher, or any person; an instructor
at the college, a professor, or someone with a doctorate degree
in music. None of these people.
Its coming from the Divine Source. I believe that...Because I cant give "a human" credit.
Thats been my assumption my whole life, is that is had
to come from God; just like Mozarts work, Beethovens
work, Bachs work, all the Masters.
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2007 Chris Oglesby
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