Doug Sisemore spent his formative years growing up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Like many others at the time, the “British invasion” opened his eyes and ears and spawned a love for music. Being one of the few “organ players” around, he quickly found himself a spot in a local band.
After enrolling in college, Doug focused on his studies (for a while) until the drive to play music motivated him to get gigging again. He began paying his dues in the local club circuit, which led to touring with regional acts, covering the southeast.
After a few years, Doug arrived in Nashville and he found plenty of work as a keyboardist, transitioning from working with indie artists in local bars and clubs to larger venues touring with major acts, traveling the world performing for screaming fans everywhere! Some of the artists he has performed with include Reba McEntire, Sara Evans, Kelly Clarkson, Henry Lee Summer, Linda Davis, Shenandoah, Jo-El Sonnier, Victor Wooten, Brooks and Dunn, and Martina McBride. As a songwriter, he has written with Tommy Lee James, Liz Hengber, Tom Kimmel, and others. In addition, he has composed and recorded for television and film, winning a daytime Emmy along the way. He is currently the music director for country icon Reba McEntire and composer for ABC sitcom Malibu Country.
Korg recently caught up with Doug to discuss what he’s been up to and what he’s been playing:
KORG: How did you begin your life journey with music?
Doug: Well, it's the old "The Beatles on Ed Sullivan" story. I was hooked. One thing led to another. It started with bands in high school, jamming, etc. After a short stint at college, I hit the road to become a rock star [laughs]. Well, I survived all that and have been blessed to still be playing music for a living today.
KORG: You've been the Musical Director and an instrumentalist for Reba and performed with other great artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Victor Wooten, Brooks and Dunn, and more...is there any advice you can pass on to developing musicians, based on your experiences?
Doug: Well, be prepared and don't be an idiot! Know what you are doing - musically and technically. You don't have to have a degree or be the greatest player. Just be good at what you do. In today's world, all the info you need is at your fingertips. It's a business whether you think it is or not! So act properly. Treat the people you work for and those who work for you with respect. As they say, "you meet the same people on the way up as you do on the way down." Oh, yeah - save your money!
KORG: Great points. Are there any recent memories from performing or recording that stick out in your mind?
Doug: Touring with Reba and other artists has presented way more memories than I could begin to talk about. Most of those have all been good! Seeing the world and playing shows in all types of settings has been incredible. Of course, there are those gigs that you want to forget about!
Several years ago, I was Musical Director for a CMT tribute to Reba called Giants. About a dozen of the queens of country music performed Reba's songs; Dolly Parton, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Jennifer Nettles, Kelly Clarkson, and others. Being on stage with all those amazing singers was just that – amazing! We did two co-bill tours over the last couple of years that were too much fun…one with Kelly Clarkson and her band (everyone on stage the entire show) and one with George Strait. I've been fortunate to tour with great people and good friends, so the camaraderie stands out the most. A good time was had by all!
KORG: Are there any upcoming projects in the works that we should keep an eye/ear out for?
Doug: Yes! I was just hired as the composer for Reba's new sitcom, Malibu Country. It will air on ABC Friday nights starting November 2nd. There will probably be some early morning and late night TV performances as well, to promote the show and new single/CD compilation to be released this fall.
KORG: Very cool! So let’s talk gear a bit…You've used different keyboards throughout the years and you're using the Kronos now. Do you have any favorite features?
Doug: My favorite feature is the ease of use. Seriously. Korg has it down! Korg has been my favorite for keyboards since I got my first 01W. Today you don't use near as many modules, etc. as we used to (thank God), and the Kronos has it all. Being able to set up a song program with the gear that I do have, within a few minutes, is just killer. And the Set List function makes it even better. The keyboard feels great and everything is laid out very intuitively.
KORG: What do you feel separates it from other workstations out there?
Doug: The Kronos is the all-in-one package. I've just begun to scratch the surface. The Kronos will keep me busy for years! I'm having so much fun discovering it - and without even looking at the manual to this point. It's just so Korg, it feels like "home!"
KORG: Are there any other Korg products getting work from you in the studio or on stage?
Doug: An MA-30 Metronome gets used every day. A Triton Pro 76 and an original CX3 organ get used in the studio and in my live rigs here and there, depending on the call…01R/W and an M1R rear their heads from time to time, as well.
KORG: Anything else you'd like us to mention?
Doug: Korg - I'm a fan. Great sounds, solid as a rock, love it. Kronos has it all…it’s the “Swiss Army knife” of keyboards! And Happy Appropriate Holiday!
KORG: Thanks, Doug…you, too!