L-R: Carley Arrowood, Brooke Aldridge, Mark Fain,
Jimmy Fortune, Darin Aldridge, Tyler Collins
Cherryville, North Carolina is a small town with few attractions to bring in tourists. On this beautiful Saturday in high Spring, the annual Cherry Blossom Festival blocked off the center of town as our GPS led us unerringly to the Starned Auditorium at the Cherryville Middle School. We arrived to find Jimmy Fortune, former member of the famed Statler Brothers (1982 - 2002) and multi award winner for his song writing. As a member of the Statler Brothers, he has been inducted in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Currently, he is touring with the popular bluegrass and country act, Darin & Brooke Aldridge whose singing and playing perfectly blend together with Frotune's to create an exciting, even riveting evening of song.
Unspoken Tradition, three of whose members are former students of Darin Aldridge, and who have grown up and been nurtured at Jack and Judy Bingham's hard to find but beloved Bomb Shelter. Unspoken tradition is a hard driving band that writes much of its own material. They have a new CD out and are continuing to develop. The band was warmly greeted by the mostly local crowd during their short set.
Darin & Brooke Aldridge
Darin & Brooke have been touring together leading a high quality five or six piece band playing at festivals and in concert halls for seven years gaining both experience and recognition from fans and peers. Darin spent more than seven years touring with the famed Country Gentlemen and, after Charley Waller's death, put together a band, composed of several other former Country Gentlemen alumni. When he met Brooke Justice, however, he knew he'd reached a fork in the road. They began singing together, then formed a duo and were soon married. Since then, they have released seven CD's to strong reviews, often making it to the bluegrass charts. Their most recent CD Snapshots, contains the Johnny Cash song "Tennessee Flattop Box" which reached the top of the bluegrass charts and stayed their for some weeks.
Darin & Brook Aldridge -Tennessee Flattop Box - Video
The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band
The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band offered one of the best sets we've seen from them as they performed. Their enthusiasm and musicianship was strong. Carley Arrowood, at age twenty, has matured and grown as both a fine fiddler and fine harmony singer. Her fiddle features wonderful fills and harmonies that contribute their clear, full sound to the musical magic woven by this band. Meanwhile, her harmony singing complements Brooke's power and accuracy just right. Tyler Collins, from east Tennessee brings a wonderfully tasteful banjo, never seeking to dominate while also playing guitar to free Darin to be featured on mandolin, his first instrument. Veteran bass player Mark Fain, known for his work with Ricky Skaggs and others, brought deep experience and fine timing to the group, adding significantly to the evening..
Carley Arrowood & Brooke Aldridge
The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band - E.M.D. (Eat My Dust) Video
Jimmy Fortune communicates a huge zest for performing as well as a joy in interacting with his audience in an intimate, outgoing, forthcoming way. His fans are familiar with many of his songs, first introduced during his time with the Statler Brothers and, more recently on his own. He has now booked a series of dates with the Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band, a trio seemingly made in heaven, combining the two young singers with the veteran singer/songwriter still singing at the top of his game as he twines his familiar songs into the story of his life, giving intimate insights into how the songs developed and what their writing has meant to Jimmy himself.
Jimmy Fortune with Darin & Brooke Aldridge
Flowers on the Wall - Video
Fortune seems at ease in settings where he's with people. He spent time with the representatives of the Oasis Shrine (Masons) who were sponsoring the concert as well as telling the audience of the importance of Shrine Hospitals to him, because his oldest son had suffered from spina bifada and been treated by the organization. He seemed just as comfortable with the mayor and the janitor.
Jimmy Fortune with Mark Fain at Sound Check
Sound Engineer John Holder Made the Room Ring
Jimmy Fortune with Shrine Representatives
Pete Craft and Rev. John Stanley
Jimmy Fortune - I Believe - Video