Calgary Bluesfest (2007)
"Writing from the dark side of the blues highway, Doc's distinctive vocals and bare fingers National guitar plot an intense, emotional remapping of contemporary Delta and roots music."
Son of a civil rights lawyer and a fiddle player, Doc MacLean was exposed to country blues and folklore at an early age. By his early teens he was performing in coffeehouses and festivals, and was appearing on radio and television variety shows. Answering the call of the road, Doc traded a guitar for a 1948 Dodge and set out to explore America.
In a relentless cross-country ramble, Doc MacLean sought out every living old time blues
player he could find. He met and became friends with artists such as Son House, Tampa Red, ‘Sippi Wallace, and Bukka White, among the many. Meanwhile he toured and performed with artists as diverse as Peg Leg Sam the Medicine Show Man, Blind John Davis, Sunnyland Slim, Sam Chatmon, and Colin Linden, with whom he became a popular opener for Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Muddy Waters, and John Hammond.
First known for his work as an accompanist on harmonica and washboard, Doc proceeded
to make his own mark as a guitarist, singer, arranger and band leader. For 15 years he
toured a 9 piece Memphis- New Orleans jump band, Dr Limbo and His Fabulous Off-
Whites, and released a number of singles- some of which achieved heavy regional and
college airplay. Alumni from this band include Colin Linden (Bruce Cockburn, The Band, O Brother, etc.), Gord Johnson (Big Sugar), Chris Whiteley (Whiteley Bros., Leon Redbone), Kevin Breit (Nora Jones), and Gene Taylor (Canned Heat, Blasters, Fabulous
Performing on bottleneck and standard guitar, Doc MacLean now appears solo and with
upright bass and percussion. While his lyrics are mainly contemporary, his approach as a
guitarist-songster reflects not only his exposure to southern string bands and jug bands, but also to Delta players and storytellers such as Charlie Patton, Son House, and Sam Chatmon.
As Chatmon’s most frequent accompanist in the 70’s, MacLean played a wide variety of house parties, jukes, and festivals in Mississippi and New Orleans. Moving to South Carolina to work with Peg Leg Sam the Medicine Show Man, he played in what were probably the last days of an isolated, rough and tumble rural lifestyle.
Since 1973 Doc MacLean has appeared at folk and blues festivals throughout North America, including Fox Hollow, New York, Mariposa, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Hamilton,
London, Buffalo, Owen Sound, Festival Boreal, Atlanta, and New Orleans. Radio and
television appearances have included PBS Morning Pro Musica, CBC 90 Minutes Live, Touch the Earth, and Morningside.