Releasing her first album since 2015, the singer-songwriter was featured for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted new music by several other Michigan artists.
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Perfection, of course, is unattainable.
But for Kalamazoo singer-songwriter Megan Dooley, the drive to create flawless music severely hampered her creative output as an artist for many years.
Eventually diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, Dooley also suffered the sort of burnout that many touring artists experience.
“Somehow in 2017, I managed to play 307 gigs in 365 days,” she recalled. “I reached maximum burnout as a full-time performer. My physical and mental well-being deteriorated rapidly due to stress and overwork, which led me to a string of hospital visits.”
The shutdowns caused by the COVID pandemic in 2020 actually came at an ideal time for an artist who needed to “re-prioritize and take a much needed break.”
Now, after leaning into restoring her health and “having fun with music again,” Dooley is back with her first album since 2015’s critically acclaimed, “Made in Kalamazoo.”
Recorded last May during two performances in front of live audiences at La Luna Recording and Sound in Kalamazoo, Dooley’s “Live in Kalamazoo” features reworked versions of older songs she’d written along with a new “pub sing-along” track, “The Camden Hammer.”
“I wanted to put down on record exactly what I had been spending the majority of my life doing, simply and straightforwardly,” Dooley said of the songs that also feature bassist Mark Duval, guitarist Chris Miroslaw and banjoist/Dobro player Dan Stevens.
“Because I have so much unreleased music that I hadn’t considered good enough. I wanted to revisit a few songs with less scrutiny and more kindness. I also held an online poll for my friends and fans asking them which songs I played that they loved the most, covers included. So, there’s also a good mix of fan favorites in there as well.”
The singer and multi-instrumentalist, once tabbed the “first lady of Kalamazoo’s music scene,” certainly has cultivated a host of “fan favorites,” all from performing regularly at various Kalamazoo venues to landing slots at numerous Michigan music festivals over the years.
VIDEO: Megan Dooley at the Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival
EMBRACING ‘LOST SONGS’ FOR ‘LIVE IN KALAMAZOO’
Because it’s Dooley’s first release in eight years, she conceded that the tracks underwent “a bit of a modern rearrangement to fit my current tastes. … My music is always changing, as many of my listeners know, just like the seasons of this phenomenal state.”
Acknowledging her past stumbling blocks, Dooley said she’s now trying to focus less on perfection than on “telling the truth as it is to me” and how songs make her feel as she performs them.
“I really wanted to focus on just putting out an album that would show people exactly what I do and what to expect if they come see me play a live show,” said Dooley, who describes it as a collection of “lost songs” newly revived.
With that in mind, she’s started performing as a trio with Duval and guitarist Bill Jones. The trio will play official album-release shows on New Year’s Eve at KNAC as part of Kalamazoo’s New Year’s Fest, followed by a Jan. 13 set as part of Wheatland’s Winter Wheat festival at The Intersection in Grand Rapids.
Dooley hopes that “Live in Kalamazoo” induces listeners “to be less hard on themselves and each other, to focus more on the moment and less on the capturing, to be with each other in our faults and our triumphs, and all the awkwardness intertwined with the reverent beauty.”
As for inserting Kalamazoo into the album title yet again: “I have a lot of town pride for Kalamazoo. I like to promote our city.”
In addition to showcasing new tracks by Dooley, this week’s episode of Local Spins on WYCE – which spotlights music by Michigan artists at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – featured music by Seth Bernard, Don Benson, Abe Savas & The New Standards of Beauty (this week’s musician’s pick by Dooley), Wuzee & Dusty Fingerz, The War and Treaty (with Brothers Osborne), Nathan Walton & The Remedy, Radio Vision and EPCYA. Listen to the radio show here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (12/22/23)
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