From No Strings to Nashville 

Douglas Cameron at home and on the road

Local singer/songwriter Douglas Cameron knew at a very young age what he wanted to be when he grew up. A passionate singer and talented guitar player, he got his start when, in the third grade, he traded a He-Man action figure for his first electric guitar—which had no strings.

Coaxed to go see Cameron by one of his fans, I was transfixed after the first few bars of his impassioned vocals and extraordinary skill on the guitar. Since then, I've seen him several times and discovered that each show is as a unique and engaging as Cameron himself.

Originally from Colorado, Cameron moved with his family to Moscow, Idaho, when he was 9, and it was at age 12 that his mother deemed him worthy of a "real guitar," which she purchased for him through a rent-to-own plan. "From there, it just became an obsession," Cameron recalls of his beginnings, "I just wanted to play. It made me feel alive."

Cameron has unquestionably proven how far he has come from just plucking open strings in succession because he couldn't make a chord. After playing with the likes of the Pam Tillis Band in Nashville and getting aired on Tennessee country music station WANT-FM, Douglas attributes the current direction his career has taken to having the right team behind him.

"I always tried to do everything on my own. For a career in music, you can't do it on your own, so I asked for help, and now I have this team around me that has given me that oomph," he said.

From friend and executive producer Chad Thomas, to new management team Lewis Management and Booking, Cameron's team has created an unstoppable momentum. With a return trip to Nashville scheduled for June to play with Darin Favorite (Shania Twain's former guitar player), Cameron has big plans for this summer, including a full schedule touring through numerous states. When asked about where he sees himself beyond that, he says, "I just wanna play. Honestly, I don't even think about it. I believe it's all planned out and I'm just riding the wave. When I start thinking about the future, I put too much pressure on myself, and ever since my dad passed away, I try to live in the moment as much as I can, 'cause that's all we have."

Throughout the excitement surrounding him, Cameron sticks to his roots. From a couple of his first high school bands—Bad Vibes and The Naked Nuns—to Stranger Neighbor (his band after graduation), the Douglas Cameron Band still has some of the same faces. Longtime collaborator John Fricke (vocals/trumpet/bass) and Casey Miller (bass/producer) have been playing alongside Douglas since the days of Stranger Neighbor. Now with the precision of drummer Jacob Florence and the dexterity of Australian Chris Riches on guitar, the Douglas Cameron Band has been able to turn it up a notch at home and on the road.

Touring is not a foreign concept to Cameron. After five years on the road with Stranger Neighbor, Cameron went solo in 2003. Logging over 8,000 miles on that tour, he says the long hours on the road are time for him to reflect on his music: "While I would prefer being with friends, I'm OK with being alone." But Cameron is still intoxicated by performing in front of a live audience, "It never gets old, it just gets better," he said.

With a self-proclaimed style of "folk-rock with a twinge of country," Cameron's music is a unique and versatile combination that still manages to carry with it the familiarity of the traditional folk-rock genre. The intimate nature of Cameron's music creates a mesmerizing and lasting connection to his songs. The bittersweet lyrics in songs like "Afterthought" shed light into his world: "Back there is where I left my last goodbye/this afterthought of you and its bittersweet demise/If anyone asks I've got something in my eyes/Was I wrong to hope, for us it's all I have left and it's dying/If I said I didn't miss you I'd be lying."

Cameron says the inspiration for his songs comes from places most people have been: "Things I've lived through, things that make me feel like complete shit, things that make me feel completely high. What I think love is and what it should be in my own head." Whether it's from using parts of his father's poems in the song "Remedies for Remembering" (from his 2006 release Remedies) or dramatizing an encounter with a thief in "Finding You," each of Cameron's songs relates a personal tale of life's struggles and triumphs. "My songs are ways of me dealing with things in real life and getting emotions out that way. [My songs] are like my psychiatrist," he says. "I can spill everything out ... and then own it. If I can write it, then I can feel the passion."

As evidenced by the crowds at his shows and the commercial success of Remedies, his appeal has left fans with an appetite for more. With plans for a new acoustic record containing three new studio songs and five to six songs from his February tour with Fricke, and a new Douglas Cameron Band album currently in the works, fans will be able to journey with Cameron down the next roads in life.

As a familiar fixture in the local music scene for the past few years, fans have taken for granted that they can always see another Cameron show. With his increasing popularity and demand for live shows outside of Idaho, this may not be the case for long, however, so head down to the Bouquet this weekend and enjoy the poetic music that Douglas Cameron creates while we can still call him our own.

Saturday, April 28, 9:30 p.m., $4, The Bouquet, 1010 W. Main St., 208-345-6605. Visit www.myspace.com/douglascameron for more information about Douglas Cameron and to hear some of his music.

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