Folk-pop crooner Duff Ferguson is a familiar face around the Los Angeles roots rock scene, having rode in crap tour vans, recorded alongside, jammed with, photographed, danced with the wives of and bought PBRs for most everybody in 20 years of California music.
These days you’ll find him performing alone on a vintage parlor guitar, singing lovely songs of loss, loose songs of love and portraits of life drawn from the many characters he’s met in a lifetime of traveling America’s dustier corners.
MORE THAN I SHOULD, the new record from Duff Ferguson… hear tracks here.
Duff was born in New York City to a family of classical musicians and raised in rural New Jersey. As the son of a choir director, he sang spirituals in church but bought rock and pop records with his allowance. After discovering an old Yamaha student guitar in the attic, he developed his own guitar technique simply because he didn’t know anyone who played guitar and there was no Internet.
Duff cut his performing teeth in Sea of Fuzz, a beer-soaked college cover band lauded by a Haverford, PA paper as “the local band with the largest amps.” The band entertained for four years and provided Duff’s first encounters with electrocution and arguments over band members’ girlfriends.
Duff’s first solo New York show was at the Lion’s Den in Greenwich Village as headliner at the NOHO Acoustic Guitar Festival. While living in Hells Kitchen and the Village, Duff recorded and distributed 5 EPs of original songs and acted as band manager for Jared Barkan’s Hot Iris rock trio with Hans Glawischnig (Chick Corea) and Richie DeBonis.
Moving to San Francisco during the dot com crash, Duff fell in with Americana roots artist Rich McCulley, joining his band as a lead guitar player for over 50,000 miles of national touring and promo appearances in a battered Ford Windstar minivan. The band’s drummer, Andrew Griffin (Felsen), and bass player Eran Ellerbeck then performed on Duff’s debut 2 song single “Wanna Get High”, which was produced by Griffin and fellow San Francisco producer Jeff Rolka.
In 2004, Duff joined an exodus of Bay Area musicians to Los Angeles, playing his first gig in LA as lead guitar player for fellow San Francisco act Single at The Gig in Hollywood. The band included singer/guitarist Todd Herfindal (The Meadows) and drummer Tommy Rickard (Vain, Linda Perry).
Within a month, Duff fell in cahoots with bass player Rick Barrio Dill (Vintage Trouble), drummer George Bernardo (Cash’d Out, Evangenitals) and vocalist Teri Untalan – a band that was captured in the five song EP “400 Miles” at Rich McCulley’s Red Hill recording studios in San Francisco soon after. Rob Beaton mixed it in Los Angeles, and it was named a top 25 release for 2005 by Music Connection Magazine. The unsigned band played widely in the Los Angeles area and San Francisco with vocalist Carlett Martin taking over for Untalan on harmonies.
Now managed by CLM Management in Burbank, Duff began a series of “jive and drive” solo tours of colleges, listening rooms and house concerts all the way from the Mexican border right up to Bellingham, WA and out east to Texas and Arizona, playing on live television and radio along the way. In Arizona, one morning television show appearance coincided with Nolan Ryan, one of Duff’s pitching heroes. “Suddenly” was used on MTV.
All this traveling and music making led to Duff’s next record “Good Things,” released in 2008 on Single Recordings. Strange coincidences and handshakes made in dark bars led to many of his favorite lights in the LA roots scene joining in the record: Rick Barrio Dill, Mike Stinson, Tony Gilkyson, Tommy Rickard, Todd Herfindal, Kevin Houlihan, Rob Douglas, Heather Waters, Rich McCulley, Amy Farris, Taras Prodaniuk, Carmen Doane and Jared Barkan. Herfindal and McCulley participated also as co-writers and producers.
In 2014, Duff began issuing a series of about a dozen unreleased songs starting with the track “Interstellar Poetry” mixed with the occasional video and the odd ukelele. These recordings showcased a stripped down sound with only acoustic guitar and voice performed live to “tape,” a style that Duff soon came to focus on in public performances as well.
The record “My Story Is The Same” (2018), produced by Ted Wulfers and Todd Herfindal, featured 9 such tracks that showcase pop melodies combined with a driving rhythmic acoustic style and soulful topics.
The warm reception to this new sound led Duff Ferguson to his next solo acoustic record “More Than I Should,” released in 2019. It is a 10-track acoustic bonanza that once again captures Duff performing alone with a humble 1960s student guitar into 3 vintage mics.
Duff’s too-tender voice is set free in this setting to trace a singularly personal line though the tracks. It floats from one register to another, breaks like a wave and slides behind the beat when you need it most.
Duff is currently at work on his seventh record, working once again with Wulfers and Herfindal, slated for 2020 release. He and songwriter Tom Bishel have released an EP of rock co-writes also recorded at Wulfers’ 663 Sound Studio under the name Origin Story.
Duff can also been seen as 1/2 of the improvisational acoustic duo Blues At The End Of Time with Jared Barkan.
Duff has produced recordings for artists such as Jared Barkan (“Dark Blue”/2006), Carmen Doane and Kim DiVine. He has co-written songs with Simon Lynge (“One Day at a Time”/BMI), Todd Herfindal (“The Things That Lovers Do”/BMI & ASCAP), Rich McCulley (“Never Enough”/BMI), Allan Frank (“Open Your Eyes”/BMI) and Tom Bishel (“One Step to the Top,” “No Better Time,” “Walk to the Edge” & “Guardian Angel”/BMI).
Duff has also helped several hundred artists design artwork and create photos/video for their music releases, including The Spencer Davis Group, The Meadows, David Serby, Grant Langston and Rich McCulley to name a few.
Duff lives in Los Angeles.