Another Great Article in the UMASS Collegian!

Ratner to Rock Berkshire by David Coffey

Doug Ratner was bred for music. As a kid growing up in Longmeadow, Mass., Ratner’s love for everything sonic was honed by both his personal obsession and familial environment.

“My Mom plays the piano and my Dad was always a big classic rock guy,” said Ratner.

At the relatively young age of 12, Ratner began composing and arranging jazz pieces. By high school, he had picked up the electric guitar and played in his first band, a fusion rock group that gained a small following in his hometown. When the time to go off to college finally came around, it was only logical for Ratner to continue pursuing his musical passions. Ratner studied music at SUNY-Purchase in New York, first studying performance, and eventually switching to production.

As evidenced by his early compositional tendencies, Ratner has always been greatly touched by the genre of jazz.

“Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis and A Love Supreme by Coltrane are two of my favorite albums,” says Ratner, adding, “and Wes Montgomery is one of my favorite guitar players.”

However, after studying jazz guitar for years at SUNY-Purchase, Ratner eventually became “burned out” with the genre. This led to a reawakening of another musical love from Ratner’s youth: rock n’ roll.

“Dickey Betts and Duane Allman were a huge early impact on my guitar playing, I could sing all [The Allman Brothers] guitar solos as a kid,” says Ratner.

This musical rebirth led Ratner to revert to a more back-to-basics style of guitar playing and songwriting style. In the same vein of classic rock juggernauts such as The Who and Creedence Clearwater Revival, he set out to create music under a more straightforward rock n’ roll pretense.

Enter Doug Ratner and the Watchmen. Earlier this year, Ratner recorded and released Eye to Eye, a tight, efficient roundhouse of a debut LP. Ratner quips: “it sounds like The Rolling Stones and Pearl Jam making sweet love.” Since the album dropped, Ratner (along with his powerhouse backing band, The Watchmen) has been road testing the material on Eye to Eye in venues ranging from crowded cafes to radio shows to sold-out halls and theaters, playing both intimate acoustic shows and rowdy, full-band gigs.

Ratner is no stranger to UMass. In fact, due to a several rambunctious shows in and around Amherst in the recent past, he’s somewhat of a campus favorite.

“I always love playing UMass, and I’m really glad we’ve got a few shows there in the near future,” says Ratner.

Doug Ratner and the Watchmen’s regional tour in promotion of Eye to Eye will bring the throwback rocker to UMass this Thursday night. They will be playing a free show inside Berkshire Dining Commons beginning at 10 p.m.

“Hopefully we won’t rock the place to hard and blow the roof off while people are eating,” says Ratner with a laugh.

For more information on Doug Ratner and The Watchmen, and to stream or purchase Ratner’s debut album Eye to Eye, please visit www.dougratner.com.

Dave Coffey can be reached at dscoffey@student.umass.edu