Doug Gittings is an original and uniquely talented international singer, songwriter and professional guitarist. His music can best be described as American/Brazilian vocal and acoustic fusion. Singing in English, Italian or Brazilian Portuguese, Doug performs a range of songs from Austin’s original progressive country music to the beautiful and musically sophisticated Bossa Nova and Samba rhythm traditions of Brazil, as well as his own unique voice and guitar compositions. His performance is typically a lyrical synthesis of the range of acoustic musical styles he has worked with in over 35 years of performing. An excellent voice, a professional guitar style and the ability to compose or identify tasteful musical compositions distinguish Douglas as an outstanding and unique performer on the world music scene.

Douglas was born in Rock Hill, Missouri on February 4th, 1950 – the great–great–great grandson of a Welsh coal miner who’s obituary described him as having gone through life in a ’two–fisted sort of way’ and the son of an equally tough former Captain of a US Navy Destroyer (who named his first son after his Allied Naval Commander, Douglas MacArthur).

Doug’s mother, Mary Lee, was of a more gentile and scholarly strain. Her Grandfather was educated at Georgetown (a Shakespearean Scholar) and had traveled to Missouri from Virginia to help ‘educate’ the vast migration of people attracted by westward expansion – in the early 1800’s, when most roads west were little more than dirt byways.

Growing up in a house his father built at the outskirts of St. Louis, he spent his childhood next to a 60–horse stable, complete with blacksmith, surrounded by hundreds of acres of forested land not far from the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. A love of nature and a talent for baseball influenced his early life. Riding horses, quail hunting and trout fishing were typical seasonal activities, and his passion for baseball culminated in his participation as shortstop in the city all–star game played at the St. Louis Cardinals’ Sportsman’s Park in 1963.

It wasn’t long before childhood passions gave way to a life–long love of music. Beginning with Gregorian chants in the local parish choir, he developed an appreciation for local music history.

Douglas soaked–up every aspect of ragtime, blues, and jazz that he could play – from St. Louis’s King of Ragtime Scott Joplin and the early artistic expression of free form music of Miles Davis to the technical wizardry of Nashville's Chet Atkins and Missouri’s own Lee Ruth, two of the finest fingerpicking guitarists in America. On electric guitar, Doug was deeply influenced by St. Louis’s Albert King, the first blues man to play his left handed Flying–V solos with long electric guitar sustains.

In the summer of ’71, Doug set to traveling the open highway from his native Missouri to Colorado and the resort ski bars and restaurants in pursuit of a career as a singer–songwriter–guitarist. One fortunate evening, he was introduced to Texan Stephen Fromholz, a wonderful performer who had recently performed and toured with fellow Texan Steven Stills (after the demise of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young). He was also an outstanding songwriter, having written the song Texas Trilogy, now regarded as the best song ever written about the state of Texas – and led to him being named the 2007 Poet Laureate of Texas. Steven was performing in Colorado during the winter and in Texas the following summer, in preparation for a recording contract. Doug was honored when he was unexpectedly invited to be a member of Steven’s band later that winter – an invitation he readily accepted.

He arrived in Austin in the spring of 1972. The songwriters, musicians and performance venues were ideal for a young aspiring artist like Doug. The most impressive aspect of Austin was the feeling that everybody seemed to know everybody else. It wasn’t long before he was performing solo again at the local clubs and small restaurants that provided entertainment almost nightly. He became an admirer and friend to many of the talented and often successful recording artists and songwriters that he had the pleasure of meeting in Austin. Jerry Jeff Walker allowed him to perform at the Luckenbach Dance Hall by paying his union dues. Townes Van Zandt invited him to travel and perform with him at the Old Quarter in Houston. Such was the camaraderie that existed between all the musicians in Austin.

Of particular influence to his artistic development were:

Texas bluesman and the first recording artist ever signed by Arhoolie Records, Mance Lipscomb of Navasota, Texas – born in the year 1898. The then 74–year–old songster was a supportive friend and adviser to Doug and the most genuine human being he ever had the pleasure of meeting. Doug was often criticized for his aggressive and mercurial guitar style, to which Mance advised him “Gittings, don’t play music…let music play you!” It was Mance who gave Doug his stage name of Gittings (aka Gittins).

The legendary Townes Van Zandt, certainly one of the greatest songwriters he had ever met. If you’ve had the pleasure of listening to Willie Nelson’s recording of Van Zandt’s “Poncho and Lefty”, you will understand.

A much younger (though budding songwriter) Lucinda Williams. Upon her arrival in Austin, she would go into clubs and hear Doug perform with Townes Van Zandt and they soon became good friends. On one occasion, when driving his ’56 Chevy Nomad back home to Missouri to visit his family for the holidays, he invited Lucinda to join him and delivered her to the home of her father, poet Miller Williams.

Lastly, and most importantly, an Atlantic recording artist that was produced by Graham Nash, poet and songwriter Charles John Quarto. Charles John patiently taught Doug that the art of writing poetry was “adding dimensions to a feeling”. He also became co–writer for many a good song and, to this day, Charles is the finest performing poet and word–craftsman with whom Doug has ever performed.

A visitor to Brazil many times, Douglas has often traveled to Rio De Janeiro and performed at several of the city’s best nightspots, including the famous Chiko’s Bar on the Lagoa beneath Corcovado and Rio’s premier Bossa Nova Temple, Club Vinicius in Ipanema. An executive of Brazil’s National Airline, Varig, attended one of Doug’s performances, unaware that he was a visiting American and was so impressed as to request from the manager of the club that Doug perform for an upcoming Varig Airlines company luncheon to be held at the same club the following month. A partial list of Brazilian songwriters, composers and musicians Doug has been associated with include Toninho Horta, Dori Caymmi, Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

In December 2006, Doug took a bad fall on a steep wet street at night after performing Brazilian music in the town of Charlotte Amalie on the Island of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands and woke up 3 days later with no memory. Upon his recovery six months later, May 2007, he opened a suitcase belonging to his deceased mother. It was filled with most of the recording tapes he had made in Austin and LA in the ’70’s. In July, Doug was fortunate enough to find the top audio restoration expert in the country, Parker Dinkins at Masterdigital in New Orleans, to fix his tapes.

By September, a completely exhausted Douglas finally tried to take a vacation to relax in historic Clarksville, Missouri, on the Mississippi. The next day he found – and bought – a 150 year old church and began restoration to create the “Missouri Music Hall”. Doug spent that winter working on the restoration of the Music Hall, until the spring rains of 2008 brought the flood to Clarksville. The events of the flood would dramatically affect the life of Doug Gittings.

Douglas offered shelter in the Music Hall to a young couple who were displaced by the flood. Somewhere along the line they decided to murder Doug, pawn his musical equipment and personal possessions, then start a new life in another state. Their attack was fierce, with knives and hammers, but unsuccessful. Doug fought back and held the young man on the ground in submission until the Pike County Sheriff's Department arrived – all the while bleeding profusely from head wounds. (LOUISIANA PRESS JOURNAL – NOV 12 2008)

Due to a lifelong commitment of artistic self–expression, he began writing the song “Missouri Bottom Road” from his hospital bed, returned to the Music Hall and threw himself into the recording, mixing, and mastering 12 songs for his latest CD making him the legendary troubadour of Missouri Valley.

Gittings Family History