Mike Doughty | 10.08.2014

prettyreckless sqDoughty is of whimsical status thanks to his history.




Mike Doughty is like that sweater handed down to you from your great-grandfather – warm, cozy, slightly flawed, and full of never-ending stories. Wednesday’s Question Jar show was full of those captivating stories and quips from the generally welcoming Doughty and his sidekick cellist Andrew Scrap Livingston. For those unfamiliar with Doughty’s award-winning Question Jar shows, it’s an intimate acoustic set in which audience members are active participants and write down questions for the two to answer between songs. Doughty is of whimsical status thanks to his history, including being a member of Soul Coughing, writing his own book, and producing music of all kinds – the latest album being heavily hip-hop influenced. Even more legendary? It’s all done impeccably well and the Question Jar show was no exception.


To appease the longtime fans, the duo, after a quick introduction, opened with “Madeline and Nine”.  The cello cut through The Duck Room and nearly silenced the room. All eyes were on them as the crowd continued to sing along and hang on every word of familiar tunes like “Navigating By the Stars at Night” and “Rising Up”. The first questions were pulled from the jar. One asked Doughty to share his favorite book and the crowd yelled the title of his book, “The Book of Drugs”. After explaining that he’d be rude to mention his own book, he mumbled through a list of some of his tried-and-true favorites, quickly tuned his guitar and broke into “Ossining”.


Doughty caresses his guitar in a spastic but gentle manner, so it came as a bit of a surprise as he stopped mid-song (ironically “(You Should Be) Doubly (Gratified)”) to ask a fan to quiet down. “It’s just my birthday and I’m trying to get drunk,” said the fan, which wasn’t a good enough excuse to Doughty. It wouldn’t be the last time the music would stop and an obviously aggravated Doughty would pinpoint and guilt the blabbermouth.


A short break saw somewhat cooler heads prevail and the duo played more “recognizable” (read: Soul Coughing tunes) singles and goofily answered a lot more fan questions. Scraps did his best Matt Damon impression before playing “27 Jennifers”.  The second half of the show also featured more unexpected instruments like the pocket piano for “Lazybones” and some fine banjo picking for “Circles” and “Janine”.  Upon realizing the question jar was still packed full, the two reached in and grabbed handfuls to speed through and promise everyone an answer. Their smiling said it all as they rattled off answers to “How would you defeat Lord Voldemort?” and Doughty’s opinion on podcasts and Marc Maron (the answers, respectively being “with love and a birthday cake” and something to the effect of “he’s a 55 year old childless man”).  Doughty continually breathes new life into older tunes and, not surprisingly, fans hung on every word that evening. | Jennifer Metzler

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