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Mike Doughty is always up for reinventing himself. Formerly the lead singer of Soul Coughing, Doughty has found a voice as a solo performer. Mike is back in Minneapolis this week for six shows where he revisits his Question Jar Shows, which involve letting the audience ask him anything they want.
Before his gigs at the Dakota Jazz Club, Doughty gives a clue on what to ask him while he's in town and talks about his latest tracks that he built around some lost Elliott Smith recordings that he found while moving.
Gimme Noise: So how many shows are you actually doing when you're in Minneapolis?
Mike Doughty: I am doing six shows -- two shows each for three nights.
Why was Minneapolis the place for so many shows?
Basically because they asked me; it was not premeditated. They invited me, and I love Minneapolis.
What's your favorite place to visit when you're here?
I almost live at French Meadow, and I also love the Dogwood.
This is not the first time you're doing the question jar show concept, is it?
No, this is the rebirth of the question jar show.
Why did you want to do these interactive kind of shows?
Well, my friend Marty said something like, "Why don't you do something that's like your blog?" But there's nothing like my blog. I think his point was something that involves spontaneous talking. The other thing was, I interact and talk with the audience, and I wanted some kind of forum where I wouldn't fall into a routine and start saying the same thing every night. I wanted to jolt myself and be surprised and be surprising.
Have you ever been stumped by any of the questions?
People have asked me stuff I don't know the answer to, but I always have a response. There's none that have ever actually rendered me speechless -- to my recollection.
That will help some people with what they want to ask you at your shows.
Maybe they can render me speechless that night.
I wanted to ask you about the Elliott Smith recordings that you recently put out. I read the interview that you did with the Willamette Week about the songs. When you were cleaning out your stuff and you came across the tapes, did you wonder what they were?
Oh, no. The cassettes said "Elliott's Stuff." [laughs] I knew immediately what they were, and I have suitcases and boxes full of cassettes and VHS tapes and digital tapes and all kinds of stuff that I have never organized. I'm just not good at it, so it was miraculously sitting on top of a pile. I opened up the box, and there they were.
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What was your reaction or your thoughts when you listened to this stuff that hasn't been heard in over a decade?
I was blown away. The recordings were very short. I don't remember exactly, but I think it was between one thing and another thing that he dropped in. It was around the time he was recording the Good Will Hunting soundtrack. I was in Los Angeles and he was in Los Angeles, and he dropped in and sat in the studio and played these three songs.