New Single From Local Singer-Songwriter Doug McKean Addresses Human Rights Violations

click to enlarge New Single From Local Singer-Songwriter Doug McKean Addresses Human Rights Violations
Courtesy of Doug McKean
Local singer-songwriter Doug McKean, a member of the Ohio City Singers and the Boys From the County Hell, has just released a new Christmas single. Recorded with Don Dixon (REM, Marshall Crenshaw, Smithereens) in Canton, “Dear Santa” and its B-side, ‘The Foul Stench of Bellaire,” represent the most topical songs that McKean has ever recorded.

“With ‘Dear Santa,’ there are gratuitous and systemized human rights violations going on on the border. Charity and activism, while meaningful, still won’t change our leadership’s course of action,” says McKean in a press release about the track. “I thought a letter to Santa asking for help during the season of peace on Earth and goodwill to men would channel the mix of anger and helplessness people are feeling.”

A folk song, "The Foul Stench of Bellaire" addresses the (subsequently withdrawn) hiring of former Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann by the city of Bellaire in 2018.

“I thought the actors in these events need to be memorialized, so they can live in shame forever," says McKean. "There’s a lesson about our society here, and there’s a lesson about humanity here. That’s a lot to shoot for, but I’m really proud of these lyrics.”

“Dear Santa” features Cleveland bluesman Austin “Walkin’ Cane” Charanghat on slide guitar, and “The Foul Stench of Bellaire” finds Meredith Pangrace of Maura Rogers and the Bellows contributing accordion. Dixon handles percussion, and McKean plays the rest.

McKean currently has a set of songs written for an album he hopes to release in 2020.

“This seemed like the right time for these two songs," he says. "Plus, you want to get topical songs out in a timely fashion.”

"Dear Santa" as well as the rest of McKean’s solo catalog is available at his Bandcamp site, where you can name your price to download. McKean will donate proceeds from all downloads to RAICES Texas.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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