Singer/Songwriter Darrell Scott
10/01/2013 01:47PM ● Published by Enjoy Magazine
“I want the music to be as free as it can be,” he says. “It can be whatever the hell it wants to be. Bluegrass fits into Americana. Honky-tonk fits into Americana, and Texas Swing does too. I love that Americana’s just a big, old messy catch-all that no one knows what the hell it really is. I want to keep it as weird as it can be.”
His songs have been recorded by more than 70 artists, and the Dixie Chicks’ version of his song “Long Time Gone” was nominated for a Grammy in 2003.
Born in London, Ky., Scott is the son of singer-songwriter Wayne Scott. When he was a child, his family moved to Indiana, where he picked up the habit of making music.
“My people came from Kentucky, poor tobacco farmers of the first half of the 20th Century and Harlan County coal miners for decades ahead of that. From silver-haired daddy to momma’s hungry eyes, I was baptized in country music.”
His father, a steelworker by trade but a songwriter in his heart, moved his clan to Southern California when Darrell was 11.
Soon he and brothers Denny, Dale, Don and David were part of their dad’s band, getting on-the-job training in country music as they played its hits on the stages of roadhouses and taverns as far north as Alaska.
“Our family started playing music in church. My dad had been playing since he was 15. He was a songwriter... as a professional, you write songs and take them to your publisher, try to get them cut. But this was just writing songs because you wanted to, for the sake of writing a song.”
By the time Scott was a teenager, he’d begun playing music professionally before attending Tufts University to study English literature while doing stints in both Boston and Toronto as a musician.
“I studied a lot of poetry and read a lot of literature and opened up the whole world of the humanities that had been no part of my world as a honky-tonk youngster. So I immersed myself totally in the Humanities, and was reading and writing poetry. I was in a non-musical phase. In time, the two things came together, but I didn’t plan that. I was going to go to grad school in some creative writing program, and I ended up integrating everything I’d learned along the way.”
Having based his music out of Nashville since 1995, Scott is known for being remarkably proficient on guitar, mandolin, accordion, pedal and lap steel and banjo.
Those skills along with his singing ability, led to him being ask to be a part of Robert Plant’s award-winning “Band of Joy.”
“That’s one I would’ve never dreamed would happen,” he says. “The good news was that Robert didn’t want to do Led Zeppelin all over again. He expressed how he really wanted to morph and follow his own muse. The path that started with his record ‘Raising Sand’ with Alison Krauss led him to Nashville and to connecting with Buddy Miller, and then that led to Buddy calling me to be a multi-instrumentalist on the record, and then to Robert deciding that he wanted that band out on the road for a 13-month tour. It started out as a record, but turned into a great band project.”
This month, Scott joins his friend and roots music collaborator, Tim O’Brien, in a national tour in support of their newly released CD, “Memories and Moments,” the second studio album from the highly regarded writer/singer/multi-instrumentalists.
The show comprises five songs apiece from O’Brien and Scott plus one memorable collaboration in their timely “Turn Your Dirty Lights On,” along with a pair of tunes from Hank Williams and George Jones and a spirited rendition of the John Prine classic “Paradise,” with its author guesting on guitar and vocals.
“I feel very lucky,” Scott says, “because the writer part of me has been fortunate and has had a lot of stuff going on. The player part of me has played in some great sessions and on some great records, and the artist part of me has put out eight or nine albums, and then I got to be in Robert’s band. I just walk where I’m welcome. I won’t crack my head against a window hoping that someone will let me in; I’ll just go to someone who says, ‘Hey, come over here.’ I don’t have a work-related or a star-climbing strategy. Why the hell would I want to be where I don’t feel welcome, you know? I just slither around, chameleon style, between the writing, playing and performing worlds.” •
Darrell Scott & Tim O’Brien Sierra Nevada Brewery Big Room | October 7 www.sierranevada.ticketleap.com or call (530) 896-2198