Ramblin Rhodes: Singer gets inspiration from his late father

I love it when I hear great new artists, and I just hate it when I discover they have already performed in Augusta and I missed them.


Such is the case with Mason Douglas, a singer and songwriter whose voice is as smooth as Phil Vassar's and as cutting-edge emotional as Billy Joel's.

Check him out at mason douglasmusic .com. Click on the "music" link and then on any of the songs in the playlist. My favorite is the sexy love ballad Still Be Raining (Tomorrow).

Mr. Douglas was an opening act at The Mission club on Broad Street in September 2007, and performed again in Augusta for a canal cruise in June.

"Augusta is a great town and I'm looking forward to getting down there again as soon as I get a chance," he wrote in an e-mail.

My interest in Mr. Douglas and his music was piqued when a new CD, Words & Music, Nashville, landed on my desk a few days ago.

It's a compilation of songs by 10 talented, fairly "undiscovered" Nashville songwriter-singers.

You can see videos of them performing rough, live versions of their songs at adroitrecords.com or buy the better-sounding CD at major digital music outlets.

Most of the songwriters are very good, but Mr. Douglas is truly outstanding with his song Home Free, inspired by his father, who served 22 years in the Air Force and flew F-4 fighters in Vietnam.

Mr. Douglas' father survived Vietnam, but he later succumbed to ALS, a neurodegenerative disorder often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

"My father was diagnosed with ALS when I was 10 years old, and it quickly adjusted my lifestyle for the remainder of my adolescence," Mr. Douglas writes in a blog on his Web site.

"The disease deteriorates the nerves, eventually atrophying the muscles, and forcing immobility. The most horrifying part is that the mind stays completely healthy. So, while the body is wasting away, unable to move or to speak, the mind is still thinking as much, if not more, than it ever had."

Mr. Douglas writes that he intends to donate any proceeds from the Words & Music CD to the ALS Association.

Don Rhodes has written about country music for 38 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or at don.rhodes@morris.com.