Unsung Heroes of Americana Music: Chris Darrow and Artist Proof
In lithography, when an image is being reproduced, the print that sets the standard by which all other reproductions will be measured is called the “Artist Proof.” When he decided to use this as the name for his first solo album, singer-songwriter and session player,Chris Darrow decided he was making this his statement about country-rock. After all, he had been setting a standard in the studio for years.
Artist Proof, now in re-release for the first time, set a similar musical standard for 41 years ago and in today’s often overwrought and over-produced world of modern music. Chris Darrow as an instrumentalist on countless sessions during the 60’s and 70’s, helped to raise the standard for many of the major figures of the time including Linda Rondstadt, James Taylor and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Today, living in Claremont, in the shadow of Mt Baldy, one of Southern California’s highest mountain peaks, Darrow’s home is a still, quiet place hidden by a grove of bamboo. As we sat down to talk about his first solo,
“As far as this record goes its time has come. In many respects it’s getting better responses than when it first came out.”
ught country rock out of folk rock. My favorite drummer is Roger Hawkins(of Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section). When I met, drummer, Mickey McGee, he played like that.” Darrow is well known for his fiddle playing on sessions with John Stewart on his classic, Willard album and on Peter Asher’s Sweet Baby James sessions with James Taylor including “Fire and Rain.” But he has a unique take on his fiddle playing. “My fiddle style is much more Cajun than anything else. When I first heard “Louisiana Man” when it first came out in the 50’s, I was listening to KFWB and for some reason the DJ played it everyday. I said, ‘what is that sound?'”