Darren Beachley: This Open Book Tells No Lies
by Emerald Butler
Photo Credit: Susie Neal
“I’m an open book, and I tell no lies,” Darren Beachley began the conversation. The multi-instrumentalist and singer testifies that he was born into music. His grandmother Beachley played autoharp and sang at a local radio station with Mac Wiseman. There was always music in the family home.
“It’s not like I discovered it. I think it was more of a bloodline thing. I joke around a lot saying that I was bouncing around in the crib listening to Jimmy Martin.”
Darren shared that as an extrovert, he found music to be an avenue to be around more people. He began playing the bass and started playing in bars at eleven years old. “I saw things that no eleven-year-old kid should probably see,” Darren laughed.
After some time playing bass with his dad’s band, Darren remembers seeing Mike Auldridge playing at a bluegrass festival, and he knew that he wanted to play the dobro. “I was a dobro player up to when I was 25 or 30 years old. I played guitar some, but I was basically a dobro player. I left it and started singing, and one thing led to another. I went back to the bass and guitar again.” Darren’s dream of playing with Doyle Lawson influenced this change.
“Doyle won’t remember it, but I remember it very well. I was seven years old, and he was with the Country Gentlemen, and they came to Maryland. The cool thing about being a kid is that your fear factor is very little, so I started going to the guys that were on stage and started asking them questions. I remember meeting Doyle at the time. I was very fortunate that those guys were open to answering kids’ questions.” At 14 years old, Darren would see Doyle Lawson playing with his new band at a festival in Virginia. After watching Doyle on stage, Darren told his parents, “I know what I want to do with my life. I want to play music. I want to play with that band.” Darren wasn’t singing or anything like that at the time. It was just a dream. One thing led to another, and it worked out.
In 1993 John Bowman was leaving Doyle’s band to work with Alison Krauss. Darren knew John was leaving, and he saw an opportunity. With guitar in tow, Darren drove to see Doyle.
“I said, Doyle, I know John’s leaving. I’d really like to have a chance to audition for the band, and Doyle replied, Son, the position is already filled.”
Darren shared that it felt like someone had run over him with a truck. He went back to doing his own thing playing dobro around town until 2003. Darren ran into Jamie Daily at IBMA, and they started talking and singing, and they even pulled Doyle in to jam with them; nothing serious. In the spring of 2005, Jamie Daily went to Switzerland with the US young ambassadors’ program, and Doyle asked Darren to fill in for two weeks. However, on November 17, 2005, Darren got his dream job. Doyle offered Darren the position to play in Quicksilver, which he accepted.
After four years of playing in Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Darren decided that it was time to move to the next chapter. “My kids were growing up without me, so I wanted to be closer to home, and I wanted to do some different things musically.” Darren put together a band with Mike Aldridge, Tom Gray, Mark Delaney, and Norman Wright, a very D.C.-centric band. Their first record went to number eleven on the Billboard charts. Still, there was more Darren wanted to try.
“After a while, you want to put your mark on whatever you’re doing, pick your songs, record your way with all the lessons that you’ve learned over the years.” With his latest single, “New Ballard Branch,” it sounds like Darren has done just that. Curt Vestal introduced the song to Darren.
“It just fit,” he remembers. “I thought it would be a good bridge from where I came from to where I’m trying to go.”
Darren is forging forward with new releases on Turnberry Records. He shared that a new single and album should be available this spring.