Dougan Smith

Dougan Smith is returning to Eau Claire for a performance with band DS Initiative at Nolte’s Art Gallery.

Editor’s note: Listen Up is a Q&A featuring locals in the arts and culture community.

This week: Dougan Smith, a UW-Eau Claire alum and musician who’s bringing his band to Eau Claire for an intimate gallery show on Tuesday.

What is DS Initiative, and what are you guys about?

The DS Initiative is a collective of musicians from all over the states; California, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Illinois.

Due to the distance of the group, we cannot rehearse regularly. But what makes the group great is the level of musicians in the group and the egoless camaraderie. We just want to play great music at a high level that is accessible to large audiences.

How does it feel to be heading back to Eau Claire on this tour?

We are stoked to head back to Eau Claire. We will be doing a live record at Bill Nolte’s Art Gallery at 7 p.m. Jan. 1.

Then we will be recording at Toy Car Studios in Eau Claire for two days before we leave for the Twin Cities.

This is this group’s first tour and a few of the members have never been there.

I can’t wait to take them to The Joynt and around town because I know they will love it as much as I do.

I am currently getting my masters at University of Wyoming and that is where the idea started to put this group together.

How did you get the opportunity to play at Nolte’s Art Gallery?

I sought out playing at Bill Nolte’s art gallery because I knew of the space and I thought it would be a beautiful, intimate location right on Water Street.

Even more importantly, Bill is the owner of The Joynt and he is the reason hundreds of incredible musicians have come through Eau Claire. He is the backbone as to why this town is great. I feel having anything to do with Bill Nolte or The Joynt is an absolute privilege.

What kind of music can attendees expect?

The DS Initiative plays soul and Motown music with a jazz influence.

We play original music and arrangements of the musicians and groups that have influenced us such as: Vulfpeck, Stevie Wonder, Bon Iver, Woo Park, Hiatus Kaiyote and many others.

How can folks get tickets?

The show will definitely be sold out, so if you want tickets it would be wise to order ahead of time by messaging me on Facebook or Instagram.

— Samantha West

Contact: 715-833-9206,, @SamanthaWest196 on Twitter