Doc Marshalls kick into Americana mode

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Entertainment,Music,Nancy Dunham

You may think you know all about the Doc Marshalls, but there's a fair chance that you are wrong.

Sure, the band made its musical name on a swirl of Cajun, country and honky-tonk sounds, but that's changed a bit now that the band's fiddler departed and leader Nick Beaudoing opted to keep the band at four members.

"When our fiddler left, that absence changed the band's sound," he said. "On the record ["Look Out, Compadre," released in 2012], we had a guitarist, Josh Kaufman, who did a really fantastic job with indie-rock sensibilities. That was an epiphany for us."

That was right about the same time that Beaudoing went to shows by A.A. Bondy and other Americana artists who played music without the boundaries that some impose on the format. Beaudoing used some of those lessons and adopted a less-is-more attitude toward his New York-based band's music. Adding to it was his understanding that people react more enthusiastically to harmonies that are spot on than they do to instrumentals.

Onstage
The Doc Marshalls with Whiskey Gentry
» Where: Hill Country BBQ, 410 Seventh St. NW
» When: 8:30 p.m. Thursday
» Info: No cover; 202-556-2050; hillcountrywdc.com

Texas native Beaudoing, who is fluent in French, found his songwriting fitting perfectly into that slot. He said the newer music he's writing for the next album, which he hopes to start work on in earnest this fall, is in keeping with that sound.

"It's interesting when you are a songwriter, you go through these songwriting phases," he said. "You turn around and look at the last five to 10 songs you have written and wonder how they fit [into your catalog]. Sometimes you just need perspective on the song to realize it's OK not to write traditional Cajun or honky-tonk or whatever the specific sound."

Not that the band won't play songs that dip into its back catalog and run parallel with the formats that helped built the band's fan base.

"The beautiful thing about country is that you can always do covers. You can't always do that with rock," he said. "In country you can play George Jones, or I love [the late outlaw country artist] Gary Stewart's music. We can still do Cajun and still put whatever fits into the set."

But some of the musical transformation, Beaudoing said, is due to the maturing of the band.

"This feels natural as I have gotten older," he said of the Americana shift. "I am married now. I have a son. I'm not hanging out in honky-tonks and places like that. As you get older, your perspective changes. But I'm not against playing the older material. That makes the fans happy, and I [enjoy it, too]. If I was only playing the old songs, that would be different."

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