Doug Hempstead is known as the voice who guides the city through daily traffic on CBC Ottawa, but he is also a talented musician and the artist behind the local alternative/indie rock band Area Resident. Last month, he released his latest album titled Viscount which is his fourth album in just four years. Despite being a busy family man and reporter, Doug finds the time to create, write and record all his music between his morning and afternoon traffic reporting shifts.
His creative process is a bit unconventional but remains organic and authentic. Instead of recording music he’s already written, Doug writes and records his music and songs on the go, guided by inspiration. He experiments by building a hook, a riff or a chorus, all on Apple’s music software Garage Band. Both the instruments and vocals are recorded entirely through this digital medium and by Doug himself, and then edited and produced by his childhood friend and musician Jordon Zadorozny.
Despite being a digital production, the sound of Area Resident has a vintage, old school rock vibe.
Despite being a digital production, the sound of Area Resident has a vintage, old school rock vibe. It belongs on vinyl and sounds like an instant classic. The original lyrics are modestly inspired by Doug’s childhood growing up in the Ottawa Valley and of course, by his adult life in Ottawa and the quintessential Ottawa things, places and events that define our city. His first album featured a song about the minivan that was swallowed by the sinkhole on Rideau Street in 2016, and in his latest album, Doug eloquently laments the hardships of navigating the Bayshore Mall parking garage in his song “Show Me Something Simple”.
Following the success of his first albums and an invitation from The Black Sheep Inn to perform at their iconic pub, it became evident to Doug that the public wanted to hear Area Resident live. But being a one-man band and having never performed his music with live instruments yet, Doug was faced with the task of building an Area Resident band. With the help of Carleton University music professor John Higney, Doug found capable musicians who learned the songs, and soon the new Area Resident band started to book live gigs at venues across the National Capital Region.
Playing live brought Area Resident to large festivals like CityFolk’s Marvest in 2017 and most recently, to RBC Bluesfest in 2019 where Area Resident opened for the well-known Indie Rock band Guided by Voices. Doug fondly recalls looking over to side-stage halfway through Area Resident’s set and noticing Guided by Voices lead vocalist and guitarist Robert Pollard bobbing his head and rocking out to his tunes. This moment at RBC Bluesfest was a memorable highlight for Doug, and the experience served to motivated him to continue recording original songs, touring the band, and carving a space for Area Resident in the local music scene.
But Area Resident’s integration into Ottawa’s fabric doesn’t end with the music. The album’s cover art is done by none other than local illustrator and artist Andrew King whose mid-century modern style meshes well with Area Resident’s sound. Area Resident t-shirts are also available for purchase and feature artwork by local artist Marc Audet and are printed locally by Troublemaker Print.
Inspired, created and supported locally, Area Resident may just be one of the most Ottawa bands out there, so have a listen and discover the city through a different perspective.
Area Resident’s albums are available on all popular music streaming platforms, and for purchase on BandCamp. Vinyl records can be purchased at Compact Music (206 Bank Street and 785 Bank Street) and at The Record Centre (1099 Wellington Street West). An album release show will take place on Saturday, January 11, 2020 at Irene’s Pub in the Glebe. Area Resident will share the stage with The Golden Seals as they make a rare live appearance to promote their newly released album. Tickets are available online for $15 or at the door.