Monday, April 9, 2012

Back on the Road with Darin & Brooke Aldridge

Big Red

We arrived at Darin & Brooke Aldridge's cozy home at around 1:00 PM for the 130 mile drive up to Galax for their evening performance at the Fairview Ruritan Club just outside town. The van was loaded as bassman Dwayne Anderson and new Dobro player Collin Willis showed up as well as Derek Wolford and his wife Vicki who would come along in their own Suburban to help with merch.The small caravan was ready to set out on another road trip.

Need Plenty of Sun Drop

Ready and Eager to Go

Darin drives while keeping in touch with his network. As nearly as we can tell, he's thoroughly familiar with the roads everywhere we've been with this young and hard-working musical couple. The GPS is turned off, the mood is relaxed, and everyone is looking forward to a good performance in Fairview.  

Spring Countryside in Southern Virginia

Galax on the Saturday afternoon of Easter weekend is quiet. There's little traffic on the way up, and downtown plenty of downtown parking available, as we park for a mid-afternoon lunch at Macado's, a delightful small regional chain of sandwich shops offering a huge menu combined with a nostalgic touristy ambiance emphasizing Don Knotts, the Red Baron, and rural pop culture from the sixties and seventies.

Macado's Restaurant in Galax, VA

Barney Fife Stands Guard

A Quiet Lunch

While the Red Baron Hangs Around

Rolling Hills Headed to Fairview

Brooke Aldridge & Rachel Johnson Boyd

The Fairview Ruritan hall is a spacious metal building kept in spotless shape by the membership. It's a fine venue for a bluegrass show.  The Saturday of Easter weekend is probably not a great day to hold a show, but the disappointing attendance couldn't be guessed from the enthusiastic, lively, and professional performance the Darin & Brooke Aldridge band produced. 

Travis Frye & Blue Mountain

Travis Frye & Blue Mountain opened for the Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band with two sets of traditional bluegrass music, including some original tunes written from within the band.

Travis Frye

 Rene Martin

Tim Frye

Henry May

Rebecca Jones
Tim Frye & Blue Mountain - Carolina Hills - Video

Caleb Bryant - Photographer

Harold Mitchell - Emcee

The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band
Darin & Brooke
The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band just continues to improve on the formula that's brought them to increasing prominence in the bluegrass world. Drawing their music from a body of well-selected originals as well as traditional bluegrass and classic country music, Brooke's powerful lead vocals, their tight harmonies, and the band's excellent musicianship come together into an exciting and interesting package.  Their commitment to excellence as they achieve the sound Darin first imagined in his mind when he teamed with and then married Brooke is unsurpassed in contemporary bluegrass music. Each change that's been made in band personnel has brought them closer to realizing the sound.  Meanwhile, the band's personnel has grown in confidence and power as each member contributes fully to that dream. Rachel Johnson Boyd, on fiddle and harmony vocals, has grown in her role, providing excellence as well as a visual and tonal foil for Brooke.  Dwayne Anderson's imaginative and strong beat along with his rare solo breaks on bass are terrific, as is his bass voice when called for. Colin Willis is a young and exciting Dobro player who brings speed, tasteful tone, and versatility to the band. Chris Bryant, who's played banjo with Darin since their Country Gentlemen days, quietly adds banjo riffs and baritone harmony so necessary to bluegrass excellence.  Bluegrass music finds itself in the midst of confusing and, to some, troubling transitions. This band and it's developing, audience-pleasing sound, may have found a way to break through these difficulties.

Chris Bryant

Colin Willis
Dwayne Anderson

Rachel Johnson Boyd

Darin Aldridge

Brooke Aldridge

Blue Highway's Wayne Taylor made a guest appearance with the band, which sang three songs from his just solo album "It's About Time" containing eleven Taylor originals.

Wayne Taylor

Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band - Calling My Children Home

The ride home didn't seem too long, but, then again, I slept through a good deal of it. Darin, always the trooper, drove late into the night while keeping in touch with his network along the way. We got home and to bed around 2:30, a reminder of how demanding the life of the bluegrass touring musician can be.  Long miles, expensive gasoline, relatively low pay, and a changing entertainment environment can turn a dream into a nightmare. Darin & Brooke are keeping the dream alive.

Darin & Brooke Aldridge - Foggy Mountain Breakdown - Video