Williamsburg musician’s new album ‘Good Music’ presents a … – Daily Press

Music has always played a big role in Williamsburg native Doug Burton’s life. Growing up, he listened to his mother, Jane, play the organ at their local church. The church is no longer there, he said, but his love of music has lived on.

Burton, 53, recently released his fourth solo album, “Good Music,” which he describes as “a collection of songs that simply present as a snapshot” of his life as he sought to become a “conscientious member of the world community” in a mid- and post-COVID society.

The album came out Aug. 4. This Saturday, Burton and fellow musician Chris Layton will play a show at Alewerks on Ewell Road, with Burton performing songs from his new album for the first time in front of a crowd.

Doug Burton’s “Good Music” is available for purchase online and at Plan 9 Music in Richmond. Courtesy of Doug Burton

Burton wrote, produced, engineered and mixed the new album largely by himself, with friends pitching in on a handful of songs.

“I did it myself and it took 3-and-a-half years,” he said. “I was a total perfectionist on this one. I wasn’t going to put it out until it was right, absolutely the way I wanted it.”

Burton describes the production as “mid-fi,” combining qualities of lo-fi sound, which intentionally contains imperfect elements, and hi-fi sound, which is a high-quality reproduction.

“Nobody uses that term,” he said with a laugh, “but it’s a home recording with the sound of something you would hear on the radio.”

According to Burton, the record has been selling well. For the first time, he is selling vinyl versions of the album as well as CDs, and the vinyls have been a big hit, he said.

Though Burton, who graduated from Lafayette High School in 1988, has always had the music bug, it wasn’t until he began listening to punk rock groups like the Ramones that he thought he might be able to do it himself.

“When I discovered punk rock in high school when I was about 13 or 14, like a lot of kids, hearing the first Ramones album, the first Clash album, it was basically a call to arms,” he said. “Hearing that just made me want to do it too. … I never thought as a 12-year-old, ‘Hey, I could be David Bowie.’ Bowie was larger than life. Jagger, larger than life. But when I heard the Ramones, I thought, ‘Well, I can do that.’”

In 1987, Doug Burton, a Lafayette graduate, was still in high school, playing with his band The Cooties. Courtesy of Doug Burton
In 1987, Doug Burton, a Lafayette graduate, was still in high school, playing with his band The Cooties. Courtesy of Doug Burton

Before long, Burton was begging his parents for a guitar. Once he got it, he began learning to play the Ramones’ self-titled debut, practicing and practicing until he could do it all the way through.

As he got older, his repertoire expanded and he began to make his own music, writing his own songs and collaborating with friends at Lafayette. His high school bands included The Cooties and Qu’est Ce Que C’est, which were formative experiences for him, though they didn’t set southeastern Virginia ablaze, he joked.

Decades later, Burton and Layton, his best friend and “musical partner in crime” who played drums in The Cooties, are still making music together.

For years, they’ve collaborated on their band, Gunston Midas, releasing several records and even getting the opportunity to open for The Violent Femmes when the group played The NorVa in Norfolk during their 2005 tour.

“We went from playing to maybe 50 people at most to 1,500,” he said. “It was one of the best nights of my life. The place was sold-out. Five minutes before going on, we were on the side of the stage and I was just sort of pinching myself (like), ‘Is this real?’”

The biggest hit so far on Burton’s album has been the opener, “The Devil’s Daughter,” which was described in a review by independent music blog A&R Factory as “a touch of college radio rock in a R.E.M.-esque vein fused with (a) sense of lyrical conviction.”

Doug Burton performs at Billsburg Brewery in 2022. Courtesy of Doug Burton
Doug Burton performs at Billsburg Brewery in 2022. Courtesy of Doug Burton

The Alewerks show will be Burton’s first headlining gig in Williamsburg since he and his wife relocated back to the area from North Carolina last year. He’s excited to be performing his own music, especially considering the difficulty he’s encountered with booking venues to play his own music as opposed to cover songs.

“The audiences mainly want to hear cover songs and are mostly indifferent to original music, which is what I do,” he said. “So it’s difficult for me to find venues who are even interested in having me because I just don’t even know a lot of cover songs, I’ve just been focused on mine for so long.”

Burton’s show at Alewerks begins at 6:30 and is free to attend.

“Good Music” is available for purchase online at dburton.bandcamp.com/album/good-music as well as in-person at Plan 9 Music in Richmond.

Sian Wilkerson, 757-342-6616, sian.wilkerson@pilotonline.com

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