New song: “Hard Times”!

Posted by John Duggleby on November 28, 2023 in Music |

Well, newly recorded, anyway. It’s inspired by my favorite Stephen Foster song, “Hard Times Come Again No More”. I actually wrote this in 2019, when it seemed things in our country couldn’t get any worse. Then came Covid; so you never can tell. Today, it seems just as relevant. But in the grand tradition of the blues, writing a song about hard times made them sting a bit less to me, and I hope listening to it does the same for you. Here’s a link: https://soundcloud.com/duggleby/hard-times

Thanks to Dave Hopper as always for his engineering skill and infinite patience! If you like it, you can stream it on a couple dozen of the most popular services, and earn me a penny!

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Wildfire Smoke– the song!

Posted by John Duggleby on August 2, 2023 in Music |

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  And when life gives you polluted skies, I say write a song about it.  Submitted for your approval: “Wildfire Smoke”.  I don’t need to explain the inspiration for this original ditty, but I’d especially like to thank friend and fellow musician Jim McSherry for suggesting I write a song about this; and engineer/producer extraordinaire Dave Hopper for helping it hit the street quicker than a smog blanket from Quebec.  Here’s a Soundcloud link so you can be the first in your corner of cyberspace to hear Wildfire Smoke, instead of seeing, smelling and tasting it:   https://soundcloud.com/duggleby/wildfire-smoke  It is also available on all streaming services that matter.  (No CDs any more.  I’m already stumbling over too many boxes of unsold merch in my basement).

Wildfire Smoke– get it while it’s hot!


Help Take Me to My MAMA!

Posted by John Duggleby on June 29, 2023 in Music |

I’m a finalist for a 2023 Madison Area Music Association (MAMA) Award for Classical/World/Unique Performer (whew!). It seems that they’ve mashed a few categories together. I guess at my age I’m a classic, my songbook includes a world of variety, and anyone who sometimes performs in a chicken costume can sure be considered unique.  So I’m asking you to support me and– most importantly– help underfunded school music programs and interested kids who can’t afford an instrument.

Just go to the Madison Area Music Association’s web site page, themamas.org/vote.php to get started. Just follow the instructions from there.  Ultimately you should be on the voting page (with a black background). There a gazillion categories, and you don’t have to go through every one (unless you know these folks, many of whom are very talented friends of mine), but I humbly ask that you vote for:


Voting is free to anyone including the whole Facebook universe, but I hope you’ll answer the opportunity to make a donation to MAMA. As I noted earlier, ALL proceeds go to helping raise money for local music programs and musicians who need it most. Give me a cyber holler if you have any issues. My MAMA thanks you, and so do I!


Rainbow Friday Merch Sale!

Posted by John Duggleby on November 25, 2022 in Books, Music |

Getting into the spirit of things, I’m slashing the price of my three in-print family books and two originals CDs by HALF between now and Christmas. Which means I’m practically giving them away, but I’m grateful for all the support folks have given me over the years, and this is my way of saying thanks. My mercantile includes:






Shipping is $5 for the first item, $1 for each additional. Books can be SIGNED as you wish for a special person– including yourself! Order by December 9 for holiday delivery.

If you’re interested (I hope/I hope!), message me to get Johnny Elf working on your order. Love global, buy local!

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My MAMA Loves Me!

Posted by John Duggleby on November 16, 2022 in Music |

Recently my song “Sunflowers (For Ukraine) received the Madison Area Music Association’s MAMA Award for 2022 Folk/Alternative Song of the Year. This is southern Wisconsin’s version of the Grammys, and I’m surprised and humbled to be voted for this honor from among the gazillion incredibly talented musicians in this region. If you haven’t heard it, here ’tis: https://soundcloud.com/duggleby/sunflowers-for-ukraine

In the spirit of the Grammys, of course I have thank-yous:

— To the incredibly courageous citizens of Ukraine whose words and actions against all odds inspired my own. This is what freedom looks like, and I hope with all my heart that they will prevail in the end.

— To my Chicago friend and maestro Codrut Birsan, whose beautiful instrumental composition inspired me to shape it into this song. Codrut also recorded me, played all instruments and effects on his keyboard, and even lent his Pavarotti-like tenor to the final refrain.

— To all of you who voted for me and have supported my work over the years. As my mom used to say, “Love ya loads!”

— To MAMA itself for not just bonding our musical community, but for its main mission of helping underfunded school music programs and needy kids wishing to play an instrument. If you haven’t already, consider donating to this worthy cause here: https://themamas.org/donate.php

So come out to hear me live, and I’ll play “Sunflowers” just for you! (okay, and whoever else shows up) And, it’s available on a couple dozen steaming platforms including Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, Tik Tok, etc. etc. 🎵

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Lookin’ at Country

Posted by John Duggleby on October 14, 2022 in Music |

If Hank Williams was the Hillbilly Shakespeare, Loretta Lynn was surely the Downhome Diva Dickens. I’m saddened by the passing of one of the greatest voices and writers in not just country, but any music, any era. Though she eschewed feminist laurels in frilly-frocked country girl fashion, she was worth ten Gloria Steinhems for voicing through raw experience (“I know what it’s like to be pregnant, nervous and poor”) what most women felt and could never say over 50 years ago. Lyrics like “I’m tearing down your brooder house, ’cause now I got the pill” were revolutionary for country music women in the 60s.

My wife Jude and I made two warm connections with Loretta. The first was maybe a dozen years ago at a country legends show with her, Merle Haggard and headliner George Jones. “No-show Jones” was true to form, and a slew of people were as PO-ed as me to be denied the greatest male voice in country music. Since The Hag was undoubtedly on his bus toward the next gig, Loretta stepped up and performed a second show, pulling her musical kids and grandkids on stage to help fill the gap.

Our second brush with the Coal Miner’s Daughter was a few years ago at her childhood home in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, amid one of the starkest contrasts of natural beauty and human poverty I’ve ever seen. Even our GPS didn’t seem to believe this place existed. Loretta wasn’t there but her aura certainly was as her nephew patiently let us roam through the cabin immortalized in her song and shared family memories as deep as the outside “well where we drew water.” My country girl Jude, whose own farmhouse lacked indoor plumbing until she was almost a teenager, marveled “I feel like I’m back home.”

RIP to a legend.


New Duggleby/Birsan Song: “Sunflowers (for Ukraine)”

Posted by John Duggleby on March 9, 2022 in Music |

Like about everyone, I’m shocked and disgusted at Putin’s brutal assault on the citizens of Ukraine. And when I get angry, I try to get writing. So here is “Sunflowers (for Ukraine)”, inspired by accounts of everyday heroes fighting for their country and their lives. It’s a co-write with my friend, collaborator, world-class tenor/pianist, and Romanian native (now Chicagoan) Codrut Birsan. I’ll let the song speak for itself, in the link below and following lyrics:

Sunflowers (for Ukraine) By John Duggleby & Codrut Birsan © 3/2022

Like the dawn on the rise o’er the ruins, like the blood on my face and my hands Like the fire from the burst of the rockets, all is red across the green of our land Here I raced through the fields of summer, like the children of centuries before Here I’ve aged with my parents and babies, now I’m too old to run anymore

If my destiny ends with tomorrow, I’ll be home in the ground where I lie And in my pocket, the seeds of sunflowers, will grow in my place when I die

There are hands that stretch toward me with shelter; safe harbor in which I can hide But I can’t win a fight from asylum, I need ammunition, not a ride It’s a scar since the dawn of creation; it’s a hell fueled by power and greed When the few at the top flash their sabres, and the many below start to bleed

If my destiny ends with tomorrow, I’ll be home in the ground where I lie And in my pocket, the seeds of sunflowers, will grow in my place when I die

There’s a thundering down at the corner, rumbling up past the bar and the bank Crushing kids’ bikes and cracking the pavement, it’s the lumbering treads of a tank As a cold sweat encircles our village, and every last one fears the worst I step out and announce to the turret: “You’ll have to go through me first.”

If my destiny ends with tomorrow, I’ll be home in the ground where I lie And in my pocket, the seeds of sunflowers, will grow in my place when I die

Sunflowers wave their heads across the meadow, golden carpets as far as eyes can see Sunflowers reaching for the morning, smiling with hope for you and me

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Posted by John Duggleby on November 12, 2021 in Music |

I’ve been voted Madison Area Music Association’s (MAMA) Children’s Performer of the Year for the second straight year. Thanks a gazillion to all of you who supported me, and especially donated toward MAMA’s mission of providing instruments and financial support to kids and music programs in need. And if ya know anyone needing a rollicking children’s show.

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Return me to my MAMA!

Posted by John Duggleby on September 30, 2021 in Music |

Whoop de doo! After being voted Madison Area Music Association’s (MAMA) 2020 Children’s Performer of the Year, I’m a finalist for the honor in 2021. And you can help me nab this years award, even if you don’t live in MadTown. Here’s what you do:

Go to https://themamas.org/ and click on a red banner that says register for the awards. It will take you through a short process that ends in a voting page with a bunch of different categories on the left. Select the “Children’s Performer” category and vote for you-know-who (rhymes with “Snuggleby”.) Press the “Submit” button, then a link that says “Review Summary/Record Vote” at the bottom of the page. Any questions, shoot me a message (but don’t shoot me).

If you are familiar with some of the other musicians and industry professionals up for awards, many of whom are my friends, please show your support with a vote for them as well. AND, though MAMA Awards voting is now free to anyone, consider taking the chance you’ll be offered to toss a few bucks to help put instruments into the hands of area kids and school music programs that need them the most. Make your mama proud!



Posted by John Duggleby on September 6, 2021 in Music |

So, last winter my Chicago friend, sometimes collaborator, Romanian piano champion, San Francisco Opera tenor and International Emmy Award-winning composer Codrut Birsan called me saying he wanted to create an original album of mildly scary kid songs with his melodies and my lyrics. When Mozart beckons, who declines?

Our concept album, MY SPOOKY HOUSE, was just released. Common household items take on a creepy life of their own in a tuneful romp for youngsters that is more convivial than nightmarish. And all eight songs are ORIGINAL– no rehashes of “Monster Mash” or “Ghostbusters”. “A young Chi-Town lady named Jocelyn Noeth makes her vocal debut, and is my nominee for the next revival of “Annie” anywhere on the planet.MY SPOOKY HOUSE is available for $2 per song or $10 for all eight, on a plethora of platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Instagram/Facebook, TikTok/Resso, YouTube Music, Amazon and Pandora. Get it for a little goblin in your life– which just might be you!

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