CHRISTMAS WITH THOSE 2
Doug Simpson and Pam Hughes to Perform
Special Christmas Program in OK Mozart’s Ambler Hall
BARTLESVILLE, OK –A special holiday concert that will put everyone in the mood for Christmas will feature the popular duo Those 2 — and it will be presented by OK Mozart in OKM’s own Ambler Hall, December 11 at 7 p.m.
Doug Simpson on guitar with vocalist Pam Hughes are a pair featured frequently at venues throughout Green Country. The duo specializes in memorable music from the big band era and the multi-track songs made famous by Les Paul and Mary Ford. For this performance, they’ll bring the Ambler Hall audience a special Christmas program that will be filled with the holiday spirit and marvelously entertaining.
Their story as a musical duo is as captivating as their music. The two musicians began performing together just two years ago after Doug heard Pam sing for the first time. She was singing—filling in, actually–with a local country music group when Doug stopped by to hear her in rehearsal. She had no idea he was there, let alone that he was there to “audition” her.
“She blew my mind,” he says, recalling that first impression. But he didn’t approach her; he let the other band leader tell Pam that he was looking for a female vocalist. “She called me,” Doug relates and then came over with her book of country songs. Initially, he was simply going to build their repertoire around her material. Then he pulled up the songs he had and showed them to her.
Honestly, Pam said, “I’ve never done that.” But Doug gave her the words and had her sing them to his sound track. Pam fell in love with the style and the two of them set to work. A master musician, Doug also proved to be an excellent teacher.
“I had always sung country and gospel,” Pam admits. “Doug introduced me to standards and jazz, and I’ve been learning ever since, even this late in life,” she adds laughingly. “Sometimes I ask myself, ‘Can I really do this?’ but I like the challenge—lots of majors and minors. Doug is an excellent guitar player.”
Pam’s song book was filled with songs labeled “A”, “B”, “C” meaning that every one of the songs had been worked up in three keys, which she sang depending on the preference of the group with which she was performing. Although Doug says Pam’s pitch is absolutely perfect, when he saw her song book he said, “No, no, no…somewhere in there is your sweet spot, and that’s what we’ll use.” Since then, he has delighted in watching her grow into jazz, big band and swing. Songs, he says, that people connect with.
As they’ve developed their repertoire the two have tackled complicated songs, such as “You’ll Be So Nice to Come Home To”. It was complicated as far as chord structure goes, he explains.
He works up all of the arrangements in Pam’s key. She sings it a first and second time. Then he goes to work on the multi-track, laying down one track with drums, then base track, then rhythm guitar track. “If it’s a pretty song, I’ll lay down a string track, then Pam’s vocal track. And then I mix with fades and volume so that when I play lead, I don’t walk on her phrasing.”
Sometimes he’ll also lay down violin, viola, cello or upright bass tracks. On some of their multi-track pieces, Pam will sing harmony with herself. A self-deprecating musician himself, Doug compliments Pam as “a real talent, a true artist.”
His inspiration is an Eric Clapton plaque he keeps on the wall that says: “Music will always find its way to us without business, politics, religion or any other bull—t attached. Music sums up everything, and like God, it is always present.” Humbly he says, “Everything I have, my talent…everything, is given by God. I don’t even read music.”
Among the songs Those 2 have planned for the first half of the Ambler Hall Christmas program are “Winter Wonderland”, Mel Tormé’s “The Christmas Song”, Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” which they’ve given an old ’50s rock feeling, and then their own rendition of “My Favorite Things” with a bossa nova Latin beat.
Following a brief intermission, Those 2 will return to the stage with a selection of traditional yuletide music pertaining to the birth of Christ to reflect the true meaning of Christmas.
The program begins at 7 p.m. with seating at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door and are available now by calling the OKM box office at 918-336-9800 or visiting www.okmozart.com.