Several years ago a friend of mine stumbled into Cafe Boogaloo in Hermosa Beach, CA when he heard some of the most amazing music he'd ever heard pouring out of the open door. Stunned, he wandered in and sat astonished until the music ended and the phenomenal musician, Doug MacLeod, finished his set. It wasn't long before Phil told everyone he knew about the amazing man he heard singing that night.
He is a real Delta Blues legend - and a National Treasure. He learned from the best blues men in Mississippi growing up and has a story behind every song he sings. Since the first second I heard him sing, I've been in love with that voice. Me being me, the social butterfly that I am, it wasn't long before I introduced myself with both my first and middle names, something every musician remarks on. My middle name is Lynn, and I was named after a musical instrument (a mandolin).
I saw Doug just about every time he played at Cafe Boogaloo for quite a while, and when life sent me into another direction I found myself separated from that wonderful music and the even more wonderful and magical person behind it. Doug had a way of speaking to the soul, bringing out emotions we all have known and felt. I connected with his lyrics in a way I'd never known before. I knew I missed him, but I didn't know how much until I saw him again in 2006 after quite a time away. I showed up with shorter hair of a different shade, but my same old Harley Davidson jacket I'd been wearing for years. At first he didn't know me, but the dawning recognition on his face eventually gave way. He was truly surprised and delighted. It was a great reunion with an old friend.
He had written a few songs since I had last seen him, and one of those songs he played that very night brought me to tears. Before the end of the song, I had drops of moisture dotting my shirt, my arms and the table beneath my chin. Doug MacLeod really got it. Whats more, he was watching my face the entire song. He knew he had reached my very soul. He knew that my pain was real, I knew far too much about the blues and he spoke directly to me in that song. I requested it every time I saw him for the next year.
Life changed a few things for me yet again not long afterward and I ended up a bit removed from that life once more. I talked about Doug from time to time, telling people what a fabulous musician he was and occasionally purchasing CD's of his for gifts, but nothing could replace the real deal. Nothing could compare to seeing his facial expressions when he played, knowing the emotion he put into every song no matter how many times he played it. Nothing could replace the look on his face when something he was singing reminded him of days gone by and times he missed. No matter what though, this particular song always brought tears to my eyes.
Life changed several more times for me. I ran into Doug once in Best Buy in Torrance, shortly after I got engaged to Pete. I was proud to be wearing the 1920's art deco ring on my hand and was so proud to show Doug. I told him briefly what was going on in my life since I hadn't seen him in over two years. He told me that I should come to one of his shows sometime so I can tell him all about it. Somehow I never had the chance though, and it was the last time I ever saw Doug - until last night.
Since the last time I saw him, my life has changed completely again. I remember back on all the changes I've been through each time I've been away. I've grown up so much in the past 8 years, and though I hardly recognize myself, that didn't stop him.
His jaw nearly hit the floor when I walked into Lucilles BBQ at the Long Beach Town Center last night. He sat there, stunned. He clearly didn't know what to say. I hadn't seen him perform since 2006, and he truly was someone I could always call a friend. He always had a kind word for me and honestly cared about me. He worried about me, too. I couldn't help myself - I walked right up to him and his National guitar that I knew so well and hugged him. He was between songs, or that might have been a bit more awkward. He nearly had tears in his eyes, and in turn so did I. It had been far too long since I'd seen the greatest Blues man to ever live.
Bill and I stayed for the entire performance last night, and as usual, I was astonished by the talent the man had. I laughed at his stories, I watched his amazingly fast hands on the strings of his guitar and once more I cried to that one particular song. Mascara tinted the white napkin in my lap, but I wasn't ashamed to show it.
Doug speaks to my soul. He's a true friend at a depth and level I've rarely ever seen in my life. When the night was over and we were all saying goodnight, we laughed and joked and had jolly fun. He hugged me and we laughed a bit more. Then he spoke.
"I'm glad to see you're doin' alright."
I choked up. I wanted to tell him all about the disaster Scotland turned out to be and how sad I had been and how screwed up I was and what all I had been through. I wanted to tell him about that horrible day I left Pete, and living in South Central LA and nearly starving myself to death because I couldn't afford to eat. I wanted to tell him about the skin cancer, the car wreck, the tears I cried alone at night. I wanted to tell him how much emotional pain I had been in and how I often wondered if I would ever recover from it. I wanted to tell him how much that one particular song meant to me at this exact moment in time. Instead, all I could do was lean back and look at him with those old familiar tears in my eyes, knowing he understood the pain in my soul.
He smiled at me, patted me on the shoulder and said only two words to me.
I had no words... only a smile, because I knew what he said was true.