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It's no fooling around when you get Mike Doughty playing a solo performance/book reading/Q&A on April 1. Really, it's no fooling when you get Doughty any day of the year. The Fox was remarkably under-sold for this amazing night of music and words with the king of the stream-of-consciousness indie rock. Following in the footsteps of the question jar tour, and adding in some readings from his recently published memoir, The Book Of Drugs, Doughty captivated the audience with songs, stories, and generous doses of cursing and laughter.

The night followed a simple near-formula. Doughty would play a couple of songs, talk a little bit, read a passage from his book, discuss that a few minutes, then play another song or two. For fans of the man and his work, it was a very, very entertaining evening. For fans of Soul Coughing, maybe not so much. It almost seems like the impetus for The Book Of Drugs was to cleanse Doughty's soul of the madness and bitterness that his early years in that band had driven into his soul. Doughty, for the first time ever that I know of, came totally clean on Soul Coughing and why he won't play the songs and how the band affected him and changed his life and his outlook on things. But that wasn't all; between reading from the book and talking about the passages he'd read, Doughty came clean on a lot of points and revealed a large part of his private life over the past two decades. The night rang of honesty and cleansing of the soul, and was truly a wonderful thing for anyone who has followed his career and always wanted to know more about him. Really.

The music was great. On top of all the stories and hilarity and serious learning, Doughty dished up some of his best songs all by himself on acoustic guitar. Bare. Beautiful. His voice was clear and powerful, the best I've ever heard him sound, honestly… and I've seen a lot of Mike Doughty shows. This was no ordinary singer/songwriter night in standard tuning, either. Doughty was constantly changing tunings on his guitar to make each song stand apart on its own. Folks in the crowd would be calling out songs and occasionally Doughty would play what someone was asking for, but mostly he played what he wanted to play and it all sounded really excellent. Some of the highlights were the scratchy and highly rhythmic "Looking At The World From The Bottom Of A Well," a fantastically intimate version of "White Lexus", and the rockingest acoustic version ever of "27 Jennifers." If anyone had ever had a doubt about Doughty's abilities as a guitarist - and there never should have been reason for such doubt - then this show would have erased all doubts. Somehow, in the hands of a masterful player, a simple acoustic guitar became much, much more.

It was simply an amazing night of music and talk and crowd interaction. I really hope that this tour clears things up with fans, and allows Doughty the peace with his past that it seems he is clearly looking to gain. And yeah… for a dude that didn't know how to tune his own guitar 20 years ago, Doughty sure can play.

-David DeVoe

Mike Doughty
April 1, 2012
Fox Theater, Boulder Colorado
www.mikedoughty.com

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