by Christina Cook, Red Dirt Nation
Reprinted with permission
This week Red Dirt Nation sat down with the talented and driven DocFell, front man and songwriter for DocFell & Co.The part-time red dirt artist (and full-time doctor and family man) from Tahlequah shared about his new album, his passion for playing live, and how he keeps it all afloat.
Red Dirt Nation: Tell us about your upcoming album.
DocFell: Well it’s called Dust Bowl Heart. The title is taken from the title track.
Our first album had been Scissortail and it was kind of a reflection of Oklahoma red dirt music and we stuck with the same theme – with the dust bowl theme.
We knew several of the songs we’d have on it, and we were toying with the idea of the name, but didn’t know the theme. There are 10 songs I ended up using. I woke up one night at like 4 a.m., and the sequence in my head told a story – a budding romance, falling in love, then things falling apart … and then the end is resolution of heading on down the road and moving on with life. Anyone in the world can probably relate to it.
It’s being recorded in a private studio in Tahlequah – Monotone Studios. It’s off the map a little bit. Our recording guy has a brilliant studio and he’s a great sound engineer. He produced our last album, and he’s actually been there for about 15 years, doing really good work.
We’re using a lot of the same local and regional artists because there’s so much talent here. It’s all original music except we’re getting the rights to use a snippet of “This Train” – the Woody Guthrie song for the last song “This Machine”, which is an ode to Woody Guthrie.
RDN: What kind of a doctor are you? And how do you keep it all afloat?
DF: I wear about 10 different hats, actually. Currently I’m a hospitalist and I’m in the process of opening an office in town; going into private practice.
How do I do it all? I don’t really know. I squeeze it in everywhere I can. The hardest part is songwriting, so just anytime I have a moment of silence I’m just constantly working at it – just when I’m in the car or any time I can write down an idea.
In studio with Kyle Brown
I don’t have a lot of spare time, but I do use it to focus on music and it’s the pleasure of getting to write and create. Also, just approaching it like a business – OK today I have to put 30 minutes to promoting the band, reach new venues, trying to push a single, or maybe we’re going to record today.
RDN: Besides songwriting, you said you love playing live. Tell us about that.
DF: Playing live is where it’s at for me. I could just write songs and nobody would hear them, but that makes no point. I like to go out and let people hear them and get their feedback … and then you show up the next time and they want to hear that old song or a new song. It’s just great to hear them clamoring for something you’ve done. It’s like you’ve created something meaningful and purposeful for someone else.
RDN: We’ve heard some songs that aren’t on your album. Are you releasing singles?
DF: Yeah, we released a Christmas song – it’s been picked up for nationwide release as part of a Christmas compilation. It was written years before I knew I was a songwriter. I just haphazardly wrote it and really liked it and stuck it in the back of my head and forgot about it until earlier this fall.
With Chris Stapleton in Muskogee last year.
Our producer had advised us in between albums to work on single releases to move things along and keep new material that people can listen to. They get a lot of play on our website – songs like “The Bible Belt” and “Smokin’ Tires”. Those songs came along and they were right for a specific time and we were able to release them and they meant a lot to someone along the way.
RDN: Besides live shows and albums, how do you get your music out there?
DF: Part of the struggle with being so busy is the promotion side of things. We are independent artists and any social promotion all comes from me or one of the band members. Nobody’s going hear about you, so you have to be out there pushing singles or pushing promotions, and attracting people through social media to grow your fan base, and trying to promote your product. It’s like any business; you won’t succeed if you don’t have that.
We also have a blog on our website, DocFellMusic.com. We try to put out an article once a month or so about upcoming shows, or podcasts or things we’re doing … a song we’ve written or the new album.
Photo: Zeitgeist Impressions
Seems to be a popular thing to promote that draws people to our website – and the fact that people are streaming and listening is a positive thing.
RDN: When can fans look forward to seeing you over the summer?
DF: We play the Chouteau Days. It’s a big festival there and we’ve played it several years now. Also, we get to be a part of the Will Rogers Rodeo in Claremore. This year it’s the 70th Anniversary. Cody Canada is headlining and we’re pleased to be a part of that conglomeration.
Getting exposure is always a positive thing – as long as you don’t suck. My motto is “don’t suck and keep hustlin’.”
~The doctor delivers
The artist and his band definitely don’t suck. Be sure to catch DocFell & Co. at their upcoming concerts – both in and around Tahlequah. The band includes Doc Fell (singer, songwriter, guitar), Kyle Brown (lead guitarist, co-songwriter) and Joe Sloan (bass, drums, percussion). For more information, visit www.docfellmusic.com.