This Stephen Mougin profile is a contribution from Kim Detwiller Burton with Team Strategies.
Since moving to Nashville almost two decades ago, Stephen Mougin has written, tracked, and produced for countless artists within the bluegrass, Americana, and country music genres, as well as launching his own record label, Dark Shadow Recording. As a producer and a songwriter, Stephen has won numerous awards for his work with other artists. In addition, he has traveled the globe performing with one of the world’s most lauded artists, Sam Bush, in The Sam Bush Band.
Since 2014, Dark Shadow Recording has released music from some of the finest bluegrass and Americana musicians around the country, including Becky Buller, Rick Faris, Stephen Mougin, The Rigneys, Man About a Horse, and Jana Mougin. The label has found solid success in the bluegrass genre and currently has 20 IBMA nods in the second round of nominations.
This month he is excited to debut his first project, Ordinary Soul. The 12-track Ordinary Soul has released three singles with a fourth, The Song That I Call Home, that hits the airwaves on Friday, July 10, 2020. Stephen, along with a collection of friends such as Bush, Buller, and many others, will take you to some poignant musical intersections while delivering some slamming bluegrass tunes.
- I’m from Western, Massachusetts but bluegrass is the first music I remember hearing.
- Dogs. I grew up with Brittany Spaniels and really love that breed. Sadly, I travel too much to have one.
- My wife, Jana (from Slovakia), and I met in Ottawa, Illinois at a Terry and Jan Lease festival where we were both performing.
- The last book I read was How To Read Schematic Diagrams by Donald E. Herrington. Riveting, right?!
- Coffee. I’m obsessed. We have nearly all the styles of coffee-brewing apparatus here at the house, because you never know what you’ll be in the mood for. I’ll drink coffee from anywhere, but I really do like craft coffee shops. My current favorite is Ozo Blend from OZO Coffee in Boulder, CO. Favorite coffee drink: Latte or Cold Brew.
- I enjoy bass fishing from a boat that came from Ned Luberecki’s Dad. He enjoyed Bass fishing too.
- Photography is a hobby of mine, which I got into in order to learn videography. I really enjoy street, architecture, and landscape snaps while walking through towns when I’m on tour.
- I have my Dad’s Petri film camera that he bought in Vietnam (circa ’68) as well as Jana’s Dad’s Zorki-6 Rangefinder (from the early ’60s).
- Only my Dad calls me Steve.
- I participated in musical theater during my middle school and high school years, and then directed musicals when I started teaching. Favorite musical role: Sky Masterson in Guys & Dolls (11th grade)
- I was choir director at the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School before moving to Nashville in 2002.
- I’m a maple syrup snob (light amber, please). Don’t even talk to me about putting any other junk on my pancakes. By the way, the best pancakes on the planet come from Gould’s Sugarhouse in Shelburne, MA.
- Favorite two vocalists: Lester Flatt and Frank Sinatra. They both had the amazing ability to sound like they were just simply telling you a story. They didn’t “try to sing,” they just opened their mouth and the song fell out. Amazing.
- If I had time to learn another instrument, it would be pedal steel. Tom Brumley (Buckaroos), John Hughey (Conway Twitty, Vince Gill), and Paul Franklin (Vince Gill) are my absolute favorites (though there are so many others!!). I really love the greasy bends and the way some of them could slide way on past where you “think” they were going, turning their solo completely on its head.
- I love old mics. Well, really, I love most mics. Fortunately, with our studio, I have an excuse to have lots of them. I’m proud to say that every mic we own, even some of the goofy ones, has been on at least 1 recording.
- Vinyl. I have a nice collection of albums from my parents, some pals, road purchases, and new releases. When my son was about 2, I remember throwing Buck Owens on the record player and dancing around the living room with him. Years later, every time he grabbed my iPod to play something, he’d always pick a Buck tune. Good taste, right there!
- Nedski and Mojo’s second gig (that’s Ned Luberecki and I, for those of you keeping score) was played to NO audience in a venue that was technically closed.
- Besides teaching voice, producing and engineering, running the Dark Shadow Recording label, touring with The Sam Bush Band, and filming music and show videos, I really love Band Coaching. It’s such a thrill to work with a group, watching (and hearing) them improve before my eyes. I’ve been blessed to work with beginner bands, some amazing families, and some professional acts as well. Though they all have different skill sets, strengths, and weaknesses, there’s a commonality in the concepts of quality, craftsmanship, motivation, teamwork, and presentation.
- I own and play a guitar that my Dad built in 1988. He gave it to me when I was a kid, and I didn’t take care of it as well as I should have, but it still remains one of the finest sounding guitars in my collection (certainly the most valuable to me!). Oddly, it was the first one he ever built.
- One of my favorite things about traveling is trying local cuisine. I love a good “mom and pop” restaurant and avoid chains as much as possible. It really is a different experience to get a lobster in Maine, a crab cake in Baltimore, an elk steak from Montana, cheese curds from Wisconsin, Pizza (Joes Pizza) from NYC, or key lime pie from Florida.