“Sometimes it feels good to punch someone.” The words sound strange coming from such a soft spoken man. “Well, I mean, when I’m in the boxing ring, of course.” He says with an easy laugh.
Canadian Doug Folkins is a Celtic Rock singer/songwriter and storyteller (and amateur boxer!) with a modern Pop twist. He’s perfectly happy to sing down at the local pub tonight, but he’s also set his sights on becoming a fixture on the Festival stage in the very near future.
Folkins has spent the last 10 years, writing, playing, and producing his own material. With Another Last Call, Folkins’ fifth album, he returns to his folk rock past. “Calico Girl” and “Park the Car” have already gotten worldwide airplay in Austria, France, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Germany and The Netherlands (as well as New York and Los Angeles).
This worldwide appeal might be a result of Folkins’ ability to blend traditional Celtic influences, country twang, and pop jangle to create a fresh sound that is as comfortable as your favorite pair of jeans. He is a serious musician who takes time to whittle down each song to its most essential elements. The challenge now is to take that warm “down at the pub” intimacy and translate it to a much larger audience.
Folkins didn’t start playing until late in college when he forced his roommate to teach him some songs. He immediately started playing open mics, coffee houses, and folk clubs. He says, “I developed a real love of Celtic/maritime music. Funny thing though, as I was previously really into old school punk like The Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Damned and The New York Dolls. My first band was called “The Chaotic Cesspools of Sin” and yes, the name was the best thing about that band.” He went on to release Black and Brown in 2000, Signs Along The Way in 2001, Touchstone in 2003 and Roots in 2004.
Musically, Folkins was influenced by Tom Petty, Blue Rodeo, The Pogues, Bob Dylan, Bruce Guthro, and Gordie Sampson. Lyrically, he’s inspired by the people he meets throughout his everyday life; he’ll write of any character with a story worth a mention.
The song “Logical” was inspired by Vinny, a lifelong logger who wore greasy baseball caps and always seemed wear a t-shirt with a wolf on the front of it. One day Vinny won one million dollars in the lottery. But instead of quitting his job and packing up to move to an easier way of life, he kept his logging job and said, “I’ll have this money spent in 8 months” and to everyone’s shock, he actually lived up to that promise. In “Logical” Folkins sings:
“A sad sad man found a lot of money
More money than he had ever seen
But the money slipped through his hands like honey
And the honey couldn’t stop his leaky dreams”
Some might question Vinny’s need to blow all that cash on 1970s muscle cars and wolf t-shirts, but Folkins sees it as someone who is just on his own journey. “It isn’t right or wrong; it just is what it is,” Folkins declares.
The story behind “Calico Girl” is similar. Folkins states, “Calico girl is really a composite of real life stories and imagined. I am probably reaching but calico historically has been known as a poor woman's fabric. In Ireland for example cleaning ladies and factory girls had to wear calico dresses. The metaphor is related to the fabric in that a couple is just starting out their lives but come from very diverse backgrounds. He is bringing her to the city or suburbs to a better life, but he cautions her that it is still ‘not a bed of roses’. Change is good but there are still bumps in the road ahead.”
Folkins’ proudest moments to date include opening for Julian Austin at the Morfee Mountain Music Festival in 2008 and being nominated for songwriter of the year at the Vancouver Island Music Awards in 2002. He is currently playing gigs in support of his latest release Another Last Call, and is all about showing his audience a good time. He’s the guy in the room who can make friends just by pulling out a guitar and strumming a few chords.