Lexington, KY’s Doc Feldman is a busy man these days. He has his solo work with LD 50 and recently played one of Lexington’s most popular venues, Willie’s Locally Known, along with Matt Woods and Egon Danielson. Feldman has his own video company, too, called Shaker Steps, and another band called The Infernal Method, who just played at Natasha’s Bisto & Bar in Lexington. He recently participated in a giveaway with Dear Ben Nichols, showcasing the debut of the Well Crafted Festival he played a pivotal role in organizing. Despite being this busy, he graciously accepted my invitation (okay, pleas) to interview him.
I figure some people might not know the history of all things Doc Feldman, so I thought I’d start there. When were The LD 50 and The Infernal Method formed?
First of all, I just want to say thanks for asking me to do this, and, yes, I’m definitely busy. It can be pretty stressful at times, but I’m having a blast, honestly. I also don’t miss the irony in playing total sad bastard bummer music and actually acknowledging I’m having fun doing it. Anyway, when I play solo performances, I just bill myself as “Doc Feldman.” I released an album via This is American Music last year called Sundowning at the Station as “Doc Feldman & the LD50.” The LD50 was my way of acknowledging the work of David Chapman (drums), Jeremiah Floyd (guitar), and, of course, James Toth (co-writer, guitar, backup vocals, friend, and general guru) who performs under his own moniker Wooden Wand. David and James were both members of my previous band, Good Saints, from which much (but not all) of the material on Sundowning sprung. It was a very natural process to include them in the studio when I was ready to record. James’ work and friendship and encouragement being essential to all of my songwriting, honestly. Now the Infernal Method is my collaboration with an already formed local band called Everyone Lives, Everyone Wins. They are a drone metal band who do all sorts of other collaborations as well. I have wanted to expand into a heavier and more electric sound for a while, so I reached out to these guys and asked if they’d be interested. They were interested, and we’ve been working on honing our sound and direction ever since. We’ve only done this for a few months now, but it’s been an inspiring process. It’s Doc Feldman stuff but on Performance Enhancing Drugs. Luckily, we don’t have to take a piss test before performances.
Haha, right on. Well, do you have any new projects coming up or records coming out with either or both of them? Or solo?
Well, the Infernal Method is my current direction. Eventually, we’ll create enough material and be ready to record it. Then, we’ll release a full album or something like that. I do actually have something I’m hoping will be released soon, though. I went to St. Louis a month or so ago and recorded with my old friends Brothers Lazaroff. We recorded a cover of Jason Molina’s “Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go” for a project that April Wolfe was doing through Common Folk Music, but while we were recording that, we also recorded an original song of mine. It doesn’t really fit with my current heavier direction, but it seemed right up their alley with a bit more of a country infused jazz sort of feel. Things are in the works to maybe release that as one side of a 7″ vinyl split with another artist. So keep an eye out for that in the near future.
Oh, wow, for sure. I can’t wait! Well, hey, tell us about Shaker Steps.
You mean besides lose sleep? Shaker Steps is a photography and videography production company I created with my friend Mark Rush (former bassist for Good Saints, by the way). We’re best known probably for our Shaker Steps live music sessions, where we film artists performing in interesting or unexpected locations primarily in and around the Lexington, KY area. Our sessions release on YouTube and our website, but eventually, they get compiled into 30 minute episodes and air on our show on KET (Kentucky Public Television) called Music Anywhere. That’s led us to other opportunities working with local businesses, organizations, and just people in our community to do photography and other video work. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s definitely fun, too. We’re available for weddings, by the way!
Oooo! haha I’m curious: What were your favorite videos to work on? Who were your favorite musicians to work with?
I love all my kids exactly the same of course. But if I had to choose… there are a few that stick out in my mind. Doing an early session with Tyler Childers was really fantastic. I think it was the first time I really had a light bulb moment like “oh, okay, we can really help give some exposure to artists that deserve to be famous.” His talent is undeniable. Tyler’s already pretty well known amongst people in the know I suppose, but I think all us in the know, know that sooner or later the dude’s going to be big. At least I think he deserves to be.
He’s a helluva talent, especially considering his youth. He definitely deserves it in my book, too. Anyone else come to mind?
Doing an early session with St. Paul and the Broken Bones was another one of those really cool experiences. Watching them blow up in front of our eyes and seeing people from all over the world comment on their session. Some of my personal favorites are the really “rare” sessions. We were extremely lucky to get to do sessions with a few artists that rarely do these types of things. Paul K, for example, is a living legend of sorts around here, and meeting him and filming him was a real treat. We got to do a session with Peter Walker, a master guitar player and legend as well, really. We also got to do an incredible session with Mark Olson (of The Jayhawks), which we actually haven’t released yet. There’s another session where we filmed Arthur Hancock performing a song he wrote called “Run That By Me One More Time,” which was actually covered by Willie Nelson and Ray Price. It was so cool to film Arthur and his son perform that song in its original form by the songwriter himself. But, yeah, those sorts of special rare opportunities are the ones I live for. I can honestly say, though, that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every session we’ve filmed. Getting to interact and document these amazing artists just being themselves and performing their craft is a pretty awesome experience. I’m definitely grateful for it.
Before you go, tell us all about Well Crafted Festival: How’d it come about? How long have you been involved? What is your role there? How did you score such an amazing lineup and Ben Nichols?
Well, we filmed a session with Egon Danielson in The Meeting House (the Shakers’ place of worship) at Shaker Village, which also happens to be one of the most amazing acoustical spaces I’ve ever been in. After that session, we were asked if we would be interested in curating a lineup for a craft beer and music festival, and, of course, we jumped at the chance. I guess it’s been nearly a year since we first discussed it. My job was to focus on getting the best lineup we could by filling it with local, regional, and nationally touring artists. This is an inaugural festival put on by a non-profit organization and national historic landmark, so we had a limited budget to work with and really needed to be smart and creative. I know some of the artists personally, and I wasn’t above asking people for “friendly favors.” My very good friend and sometimes collaborator James Toth (Wooden Wand) helped reach out to a few artists for me. I also enlisted the help of Delight Hanover (Alias Records and Pistolier) to reach out to a few artists she’s promoted shows for in the past as well as reach out to a few possible headliners. There were a few possibilities that we were in talks with, but when Ben Nichols became an actual real possibility, we focused our attention on that and pursued hard until we got the “yes” we wanted. It was one of those fist pump moments. I’m lucky enough to have met so many amazing artists through Shaker Steps and through being an artist myself, that there’s just a huge pool of talent for me to pick from. I’m also an avid music blog reader, and I’m always looking for new artists that interest me. There were plenty of spectacular artists out there that I would love to have included in our lineup but due to budget constraints and time availability, we couldn’t get everyone, of course, but I am definitely really proud of the lineup we actually did solidify for our first year of Well Crafted. And if it’s successful, we’ll do it again!