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Irma hits Cuba, putting rain cloud over students’ study abroad plans -

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Mike Doughty to play at Iron Horse

Mike Doughty, former front-man of the New York based alternative rock group Soul Coughing and currently an independent artist, will play at Northampton’s Iron Horse this Thursday as a part of his 2009 tour, The Question Jar Show.

Doughty’s work is a mix of wordplay and weird experimental music ranging from jazz and alternative to funk-electro. Songs from his album “Haughty Melodic,” “Golden Delicious,” and “Sad Man Happy Man,” have garnered critical approval and produced a massive cult following. Songs such as “Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well” and “I Hear the Bells” have been featured on television shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Veronica Mars and Bones.

One of the major draws to Doughty’s work is his stream-of-consciousness poetry; Doughty’s lyrics, while sometimes nonsensical, are unparalleled in verbal wit and wordplay. His husky voice conveys the humor and the profundity of his music, making it as accessible as it is intellectual.

Doughty studied poetry at New York’s “New School University,” where he took classes and performed with a young Ani DiFranco, now a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter. While at New School, Doughty studied under Sekou Sundiata, a Grammy-nominated performer and playwright.

Doughty worked as a doorman in the early nineties at the Knitting Factory in Manhattan, a music club and concert hall specializing in jazz and experimental music. It was at the Knitting Factory that he met sampler player Merk De Gli Antoni, upright bass player Sebastian Steinberg, and drummer Yuval Gabay, with whom he would go on to form Soul Coughing in 1992. Soul Coughing released three albums, “Ruby Vroom” (1994), “Irresistible Bliss” (1996), and “El Oso” (1996), which mixed Doughty’s stream-of-consciousness poetry with improvisational jazz, hip-hop, electronics and noisy experimental, described by Doughty as “deep slacker jazz.”

He went on to work as a solo artist after Soul Coughing dissolved in 2000. He has released three official solo albums and the acoustic album Skittish, which he began in 1996. His first official solo album, “Haughty Melodic,” was released under the Dave Matthews label ATO Records in 2005. “Haughty Melodic,” an anagram for Michael Doughty, was Doughty’s first collaboration with other musicians since Soul Coughing. The album features Dan Chen on keyboard and synthesizer, Pete McNeal on drums, and Andrew “Scrap” Livingston on upright bass, with whom Doughty toured extensively in 2005.

“Haughty Melodic” is both humorous and haunting, as Doughty weaves between the pop-culture references of “Busting Up A Starbucks” to the revelation of Doughty’s own addiction and recovery from heroin in “Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well.”

His later albums include “Golden Delicious,” a more main-stream track released in 2008 that features simpler choruses and heavier instrumentation. Standouts from that album include “27 Jennifers” and “Fort Hood.” His most recent album, “Sad Man Happy Man,” released on October 6 of this year, represents a return to the acoustic sounds of Soul Coughing and those showcased on “Haughty Melodic.”

The Question Jar Show, a duo performance by Mike Doughty and Andrew “Scrap” Livingston will play at the Iron Horse at 7pm and 10pm on Saturday night in Northampton. Tickets are $20 in advance and $23 at the door.

Rachel Dougherty can be reached at rdougher@student.umass.edu.

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