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Friends and Neighbors: DL's own 'music man' is ready to put on a show

Whether you've seen him channeling Elvis in the Historic Holmes Theatre production "Holmes Spun Theatre," performing on stage with his rock and roll band, The Fat Cats, or appearing solo at a corporate party or community festival, chances are that if you live in the lakes area, you know who Doug Newman is.

The Detroit Lakes native has been singing professionally since the age of 15. And though he began scaling back on touring with The Fat Cats in 2000, to spend more time with his family, Newman has remained an active part of the Detroit Lakes performing arts community since that time.

This Thursday, he returns to the stage of the Holmes Theatre Ballroom -- where he played a sold-out show a couple of years ago -- to kick off the theater's 2007-08 Thursday Night Cabaret series.

"I hope everyone has the chance to come see it," he says.

Newman will perform from 5:30-7:30 p.m. He said the cabaret-style show will contain a mixture of old-fashioned rock and roll, "Rat Pack" and Elvis Presley classics and contemporary music from artists such as Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban.

It's not often that you will find music from Josh Groban and Elvis Presley on the same set list, but Newman is a classically trained vocalist who also likes to rock.

"From my freshman year (in high school) on, I took private voice lessons," Newman says, adding that he owes his classical voice training to local instructor Catherine Peters. "Most people know her as Taffy," he adds.

After graduating from Detroit Lakes High School, Newman attended Westminster Choir College for a couple of years.

"After that I fell in love, got married and joined a rock and roll band," Newman says with a laugh, noting that Eclipse was the name of his first band.

"Since then, I've been in Sound Advice (local), Shyboy (based in Fargo) and then I joined the Fat Cats," says Newman.

He's been with the Fat Cats since 1990; the group even has a professionally-recorded CD on its resumé. At one time, the Fat Cats were touring heavily, traveling all across the region and playing several nights a week -- in addition to the fact that most of them had full-time day jobs.

"With the stress it put on our families, we decided to take it easy and quit touring so much -- at least until the kids grew up," Newman says.

In Newman's case, that family included two sons and a daughter. During their 26 years of marriage (and counting), Doug and his wife Gigi have raised a son, Douglas, who is now 25 years old and a staff sergeant with the U.S. Army National Guard (recently returned from active duty in Iraq); a daughter, Alexis, who is 22, living in Bemidji and happily married to husband Adam Moline; and youngest son Travis, 19, who is a professional chef and helps out with the family business, Newman's Manufacturing.

Based in Royalton, Minn., the manufacturing business constructs boat lifts, docks, and trailers of every description, and has been in the family for over 37 years.

"We have a store in Audubon," Newman says.

But music remains his first love. In addition to Thursday's show at the Holmes Ballroom, Newman is also tentatively planning a Valentine's Day show at Mahnomen's Shooting Star Casino early next year, and there are "a lot of cool things cooking with the Fat Cats too," he adds.

"I've also done a lot of corporate events, fairs and festivals in the area," he adds.

"Music is something that just burns inside of you," he says of his continued passion for performing. "I consider it a privilege... a gift from God. I don't take it for granted.

"I think performing and singing is a form of loving people and sharing a part of yourself," he adds, noting that he hopes people bring away a sense of joy and well-being from his performances. "I think it's a very spiritual part of me."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454