Darrell Scott where have you been all my life?
So I know that I had a strange musical upbringing. I am the only child of an Irish American bullshit artist (professional theologian) who liked to sing shanty Irish songs and a Polish American tone-deaf special education teacher mother. My parents had Judy Collins albums and one strange little album with a painted star-scape on the cover called Stardust. When I was 10 years old in the 4th grade I was compelled to take up the saxophone and immediately became enamored by John Coltrane and Miles Davis (it was all about Kind Of Blue and Live At the Village Vanguard). How the hell does a 10-year-old kid find truth, simplicity and beauty in that dense complex music? When I was 14 years old I heard Buddy Guy’s live version of “First Time I Met the Blues” from the Rhino disc The Very Best of Buddy Guy (which is actually pretty hard to find now, glad I still have the disc), and I picked up the electric guitar. Yeah, I started right away with the electric guitar. It was second-hand; the “baby” of the hair metal throwback guitar tech at the Music Nook in Milford, MA. I loved that guitar so much. Still have it and still play it. I then learned about SRV and Clapton. Then I hated them because I couldn’t do what they did, and I learned that it was actually Magic Sam, Buddy Guy (always Buddy Guy), Otis Rush, Albert Collins, BB, Albert and Freddie, Charlie Patton, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Blake and many others that were the real deal and going to point my way in blues.
I was very one track in my mindset. If it wasn’t authentic and old I didn’t want it – nothing but blues and jazz. Ornette and Alber Ayler started really making sense to me. James Blood Ulmer and Sonny Sharrock sung to me. Then I found Bill Frisell, and everything started to really make sense in a strange geeky way. I was a kid out of time. I was 17 and listening to the most esoteric and difficult music. This music did not reward passive listening and my poor parents were worried but supportive.
It wasn’t until I was well into my twenties, well past the late 80’s early 90’s grunge revolution, that I started to open up my horizons. I started understanding Pavement and Modest Mouse; I saw how Sonic Youth and Bjork were a lot like the free jazz I loved so much. I also reclaimed that strange sad album Stardust and got hip to Waylon, Johnny and Merle. It was the same type of feeling I had when I heard Miles, Trane and Buddy. Ever since I have been wide open.
Recently I started to really pay attention to No Depression. It has shown me so many fantastic musicians I didn’t know about: Corb Lund, Kathleen Edwards, Iris DeMent, Jim Byrnes and most importantly to my playing style Darrel Scott. I was intrigued by the pictures of Darrel Scott. As a large enthusiastically hairy person, I am always interested in hearing what big bearded people have to say. I started with Long Ride Home and I was knocked out. I then read on No Depression about the new live album with Tim O’Brien. There is a quote in there where O’Brien describes Scott as an “explosive lead player.” Although I though Long Ride Home was great I didn’t really hear anything explosive. Then I checked out Live in NC.
Live in NC is a trio set from 2004 in which Darrell Scott absolutely burns, over half on electric guitar, and shows off an instrumental sensitivity that rivals his impeccable singing. How about the version of “River Take Me?” A great song for sure, but in this setting this waltz meditation on life, land and time passing has a swollen crunch that threatens to overflow the banks of your speakers. His medley of “Folsom Prison/White Freightliner Blues” is a nod as much to Johnny Cash and Townes Van Zandt as it is to his country-singing father. The way Darrell syncs his singing to his playing throughout this country exercise takes what could be a boring masturbatory jam to a level of musical expression that rivals the best of the jazz improvisers. It is like Duke Ellington orchestrated this medley for Sonny Rollins to shred over. Throughout, the guitar playing is so inventive and nothing short of “explosive.”
The acoustic numbers on Live in NC are equally tasty. The beautiful rendition of his well covered “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” the tender “With A Memory Like Mine” and the sad cover of “I Still Miss Someone” are breath taking. I spent a little You Tube time checking out Darrell Scott and learned that these acoustic moments are the majority of his live material out there in the inter-web. I was especially blown away with Scott’s solo performances. Check out his live version of “Hopkinsville” in which he plays the classic little turn-arounds so effortlessly. It is a joy. I am glad that I have finally found Darrell Scott. He is a true artist expressing himself and his life through his smart and simple songwriting, immediate and authentic singing and his adventurous high wire guitar playing. I want Mr. Scott to do whatever his music dictates out of him, but the electric guitar fiend in me wishes he would do another trio album in which he dusts off his electric and lets his soaring chops fly. Just saying.
I’m a bluesman, guitarist and general smart-ass. I love playing music live in front of people more than almost anything else in the world (just short of my wife and family). Listening to, thinking about, talking and writing about music helps my live performance and that is why I write this blog. Check out my music at http://www.reverbnation.com/buckyohare. I have the music mentioned above in a Spotify playlist entitled “Bucky’s Blog” if you want to check it out.