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“I’m a singer-songwriter with alt-country leanings but a punk-rock spirit,” says acoustic troubadour Drew Douglas, aka Grampadrew. “Think John Prine and Neil Young jamming at a sawdust-floor hoedown with Wilco.”

The South Park resident cut his teeth performing at the nearby Whistle Stop on Fern Street. “Sam, the owner, is fantastic about supporting and nurturing the local scene, so they pretty much put South Park on the map with the arts. And I mean no disrespect to Judy [Forman] the Beauty on Duty, the proprietor of the Big Kitchen, who worked tirelessly for decades to better our community...pretty much alone.”

Douglas took a shot at forming a local-based record label, mainly for his own releases, though he found the music biz still clinging desperately to the near-obsolete major-label model of A&R “discovery and development.” “I was sitting at a lunch counter at LAX on my way to Austin for South by Southwest, and my label at that point was just a website and a fancy business card. To my right is Jeff Buckley’s mom, on the phone with the president of Sony Records negotiating the release of her son’s box set. Between phone calls, she asks for my fancy business card and insists I call her Mary.

“On the flight, Mary tells me about a show I have to go to. When I arrive at the gig, she isn’t there, but everyone keeps staring at me and clapping with suspicious enthusiasm, all the while looking back at me and smiling and nodding. Finally, [Buckley’s former] manager walks up to me and says, ‘Mary told us you were coming’ and starts pitching his band to me like I’m the head of Capitol Records. I handed out my fancy business card, waited until nobody was looking, and slipped out as quietly and inconspicuously as possible.”

Grampadrew was nominated Best Alt Country and Best Songwriter at the 2008 San Diego HAT (Honoring Acoustic Talent) Awards. As for nonmusical endeavors, he says, “I’m a registered reverend who’s performed five weddings and a funeral. That’s one more than the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral. So far.”

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