New CD by Owen Duggan honors and remembers local songwriter Doug McNeel
What’s in a song? The music business says it’s all in the hook. Try singing the words, “. . . king of the road,” from Roger Miller’s immortal song of the same title. Now try to get it out of your head! Music- lovers say it’s also in the heart—how the story touches them. Singer-songwriter Owen Duggan has recorded a new CD that pays tribute to local songwriter Doug McNeel. Doug passed suddenly of cancer last year, leaving a huge catalog of songs that are both ‘hooky’ and loaded with heart.
Honey on My Mind, released August 16 through MRI/SONY RED, contains songs that were originally slated for a second recording by McNeel. Duggan, a long-time friend, song coach, and co-writer was commissioned to finish the project at Harter Music studios in San Antonio. Duggan, a Canadian transplant, has authored two popular children’s albums and has won awards with West Coast Songwriters Association, Austin Songwriters Group, and Parents’ Choice Foundation.
According to Duggan, Doug’s songs are not only sing-able, “they reveal a thoughtful way of looking at life’s challenges. I think they’re just right for our time.” A deep thinker with a sunny personality, Doug worked through many of his questions about the world through his prodigious songwriting, while showing his roots to be generations deep in Texas soil. “Texacana music is a thing,” says Duggan. “Texas songwriters are storytellers.”
The album’s 12 songs run the gamut of topics, including romance, homeland, marriage, faith, and self- love. Along with the title track, which tells how you feel when you’re “longing for [your] honey all the time,” are bluesy songs with a touch of gospel (“He Lifts Me Up”), and a Dixieland tune that takes a humorous poke at the narcissists of the world ( “Only You”).
Duggan’s honey-like vocals bring elements of folk and Appalachia with a dash of Texas country swing. With Duggan, the words always come first. “Only You” features lead vocals sung by Doug McNeel, recorded a little while before his passing. Sylvia Kirk appears as guest lead-singer on the inspirational song, “In Your Great Compassion.”
To complete the project, Duggan enlisted some of the finest South Texas players, including Bobby Flores, an inductee of the Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame, and Floyd Domino (Asleep at the Wheel) on keys. Other notable local musicians include Anthony Bazzani (George Strait’s touring band) on organ and piano; Keith Harter (Rick Cavender’s band) on guitar, dobro and lap steel; and Darren Kuper (King Pelican surf band) on drums.
Honey on My Mind, is available nationwide in CD format, download, and streaming, through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple Music, Spotify, and other major music outlets and streaming services.