I have been barhopping for bands for a few years now. I have seen many a man and woman pick up a guitar and play, contribute some chords on a keyboard. I have seen them all don different hats – cadet caps, baseball caps, fedoras, toboggans, cowboy hats, tattoos of a hat on someone’s head. Doug Briney, although he customarily comes with a cowboy one, wears many different hats.
Known as the “Northern Cowboy,” Doug is a country music-maker from Alaska who sings like he’s from the south. Performing his first solo at the professional age of two, Mr. Briney began singing in church. His faith and fortitude led him to bigger stages as a strong storyteller, a really relate-able, authentic artist. Doug proves that personal is powerful and shares his wisdom from within.
Not only has Doug been a finalist for two years in KBear Radio “Country Idol” in Anchorage, Alaska, but he also performed live with America’s first Idol, Kelly Clarkson, before her breakthrough win. Doug went on to be a Vocal Music Major and his dedicated debut, “It’s All Country,” a tribute to past performers as well as an inaugural introduction, immediately made an impact. Doug rightfully received a nomination for Most Promising New Artist at the 2012 ICMA awards, and his song “More Than Just a Farm” not only has been heard internationally and independently broke into the top 30 on two charts, but reach top 20 in the U.S. and the video debuted and is still at # 1 on the OnlyLyrics.com Music Video chart. The video has also been added to CMCTV and Doug has also been featured on MusicRow.com, New Music Weekly and Knight Rider Radio.
Doug deems himself a road warrior, and even played in an airport once. “I like to tell people that I’ve sung at the Grand Ol’ Opry. Of course, it was in the parking lot..but some day!” Doug has graciously given back to his community in a caring way. The charities that he contributes to include Wounded Warrior Project and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. No matter what hat Doug decides to wear, one thing is certain – I am tipping mine to him!
Sara Fincham: Your CD contains both tribute songs and new singles. What was the logic behind a debut that both pays tribute and trudges ahead?
Doug Briney: Hi Sara, thanks for asking. Truthfully the logic was two part. The first part is I enjoy those songs immensely and knew I could sing them. The second part was a marketing thing. My hope was that by having a few familiar songs that people would find my music easier. After finding it the hope is that they would then like it all.
SF: Singing is something that started for you at an early age. Do you remember the first person that encouraged you to pursue it? What did they say?
DB: I know my parents encouraged me to sing, but truthfully it wasn’t until I was in high school that I really began singing more and more. The reason was simple… a girl. I sang so I could be near her in youth choir and then because my youth minister encouraged me to do more and sing some specials in church.
SF: Give us a glimpse into the country music scene in Alaska. Are there many country musicians? Did you play out at places there?
DB: You know there are some great country musicians here. Brook Faulk, Kenny Peltier, Adele Morgan and Hobo Jim and really the list keeps going. We don’t get a lot of big names up here for a lot of concerts, so most everyone plays small venues. Right now, I play Lonestar Steakhouse every Friday night.
SF: You mentioned you heard several songs before settling on “More Than Just a Farm.” What about it, or any song, appeals to you? What do you look for in something that you sing?
DB: Great question! For me it is a combination of things. I first have to believe the story the song tells. Then I ask myself is that a story I could tell and believe in. With “More Than Just a Farm to Me” my grandfather had a small farm in southern Illinois and when I was thirteen I was able to spend the summer with him. I learned a lot that year, how to shoot a gun, how to gather eggs, milk a cow, take a bunch of hogs off to butcher and so on. So the song totally spoke to me from the first moment I heard it.
SF: You also mentioned that you played in an airport once – is that the most unusual setting that you’ve song, or are there others that rank higher?
DB: I’d have to say the most unusual place I’ve ever sang I’m doing now. On Tuesday’s, Thursday’s and Saturday’s, weather permitting, I’m singing out in front of my coffee shop. I own the Cowboy Coffee Shack here in Anchorage – it is a small drive-through stand and when I’m slow, I’m out there singing to traffic as it passes by. So far, I’ve not caused any accidents but I do get a lot of people slowing down and pointing.
SF: Your debut has done well. Did you have expectations, foresee such success, and how have you handled the nominations and how well it’s been received?
DB: Truthfully, no. I didn’t know how this was going to go. I don’t know that anyone really ever does, I think you hope, pray and cross your fingers, but I didn’t know what to expect. The nominations have been awesome! I am really honored to have received them, I mean you hear that all the time, but I have to say, it really is true. To be thought of in that light and to have folks get behind what I’m doing and putting out there is very humbling to me.
SF: You’re not just a musician, but, among many other things, also a philanthropist. You give hands on help with the charities you support, but how do you think your music also helps?
DB: You know the music is a tool that helps get an audience. I think that in a large part anyway, Alaska is huge geographically, but really small in population and because I’ve been here now for 20 years, I’m pretty well connected. So with the local charities and such, the music is really just an icing. With the great reception I’ve got now on the CD both in the states and on the international level, doors are beginning to open outside of Alaska as well and for me and that’s really exciting.
SF: Do you have any upcoming shows we can see you at?
DB: I’m performing each Friday night at Lonestar Steakhouse here in Anchorage from 9 – 11. Then this summer, I’m going to be riding my motorcycle from Anchorage to Orange County, California and back again. On that trip I’m going to be doing several impromptu shows along the way. I’m really looking forward to it!