Mike Doughty, founder of the critically praised avant-garde 1990s alternative rock band, Soul Coughing, ingloriously travelled in a rental car to small solo gigs following the breakup of the band.
Doughty summarized Soul Coughing’s sound as “deep slacker jazz” for its fusion of jazz arrangements, hip-hop, obscure samples, noise rock and slam-poetry.
He founded the band through connections he made as a doorman at the fabled New York venue The Knitting Factory.Doughty, who majored in poetry at the unconventional New School in New York, wrote lyrics that twisted tongues and touched nerves. The band’s breakthrough single on college radio “Screenwriter’s Blues” mocks the maladies of the mid-1990s – its glorification of starving models, obsession with wealth and belief that everyone is entitled to 15 minutes of fame. Doughty’s lyrics pour over an endless jazz horn section: “Boundless love gone savage/ for teenagers who are aesthetically pleasing/ in other words, fly.”
Catchier singles like “Circles” and “Super Bon Bon” found their way to mainstream alternative rock radio.
After three gold records and one posthumously released in 2002, Coughing Soul broke up in 2000 thanks Doughty’s descent into heroin and alcohol addiction.
Doughty found salvation from fellow musician Dave Matthews and Matthews’ enthusiasm over Doughty’s self-released solo single, “27 Jennifers.” Matthews signed Doughty to his personal label, ATO Records, and Doughty has since released nine albums with the label and a memoir in 2012, The Book of Drugs.
He is now touring in support of his 2016 album The Heart Watches While the Brain Burns. Allmusic.com called the effort “a more mature and steady Doughty, both in sound and tone.”
His narrative feels complete on the track “There Is a Better Way Out”: “Hang your swag in the frozen hall/ just to feel the sun/ there is a better way out.”
MIKE DOUGHTY 6pm Wednesday, Nov. 9. Folktale Winery, 8940 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel. $25. 293-7500. www.folktalewinery.com. 21 and over.