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Local musician returns from Indigo Girls tour


  • By Melanie Ruberti
  • |
  • Jul. 08, 2018 - 10:01 AM

Local musician returns from Indigo Girls tour

(COURTESY: DOUG KEES)

Doug Kees, left, hangs out with the Indigo Girls backstage while on tour with them. From left to right, Doug Kees, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, and singer-songwriter Michelle Malone.


Life is slowly returning to normal for musician and local business owner Doug Kees.

During the month of May, Kees lived and breathed a rock-n-roll lifestyle as a guitarist in the Michelle Malone Band.

The band starred as the opening act for the Indigo Girls on the New England leg of their tour.

Michelle Malone and the four-member crew rented a van and drove 18 hours to catch up with the Indigo Girls.

Kees said the tour was an eye-opening experience.

“The five of us had never been anywhere together, except in a recording studio. Then, all of the sudden, you find yourself in a van, sitting 5 feet away from each other for hours on end,” Kees said. “We dealt with each other’s personality during the day and then musically at night when we were on stage. But we worked well off each other. If given the chance, that’s the crew I would want to go back out with again.”

Michelle Malone and the band promoted her recently released record “Slings and Arrows,” on which Kees played guitar. The bluesy, rock-n-roll album was recorded last summer in Atlanta.

Kees said the band performed 10 shows as the Indigo Girls’ opening act in theaters with capacities of 1,500-2,500 people.

The Michelle Malone Band booked other shows on its off-days, including live recording on the famous Woodstock Radio station and the popular Iridium Jazz Club on Broadway in New York City.

Kees said the album and the band were well-received on the tour.

“I enjoyed every minute of it. As the opener, most people aren’t there to see you and want you to get off stage. But many times we received a standing ovation at the end of the set,” he said. “I would watch people put their phones down and listen to our sound. The Indigo Girls were both total sweethearts. I looked over at one point and Amy (Ray) was standing in the wings watching us. Afterwards, she came over to me and asked about my guitar skills. Both of them were both supportive and cool. It was gratifying to see people of that stature willing to help us out.”

Kees said not every show went as planned, but the band made the best of every situation.

“We were playing a show in Beverly, Mass., and the fire alarm went off so everyone had to leave in the middle of the set,” he said. “I told Michelle to grab her acoustic guitar before she walked out. We played the rest of the show in the middle of a parking lot in the rain. She sang to the crowd and they sang along with us. So it was a pretty neat ending.”

The band’s hard work seemed to pay off in the end, Kees said.   

The group was in New York City on the last day of the tour when they learned the “Slings and Arrows” album hit the No. 8 spot on the Billboard Blues chart. The record was two places ahead of the latest Rolling Stones album, Kees said.

“That was the most interesting, tangible result from the tour,” he stated. “Who else has had a Top 10 album? I haven’t. It was such a great moment, a real victory.”

Kees returned to Newnan at the end of May, just in time for the last two days of school at The Heritage School.

Kees teaches music at the school and at the Central Educational Center. He also owns Musicology on Spring Street.

But he won’t be in Newnan for very long.

Kees and the Michelle Malone Band will hit the road again at the end of June to play the American Music Festival in Chicago, Ill. The group will also perform in a blues festival in Washington in September and at a series of venues in New England in August.

The band also will join singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins for a brief tour this fall.