Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien Visit The Barns at Wolf Trap
Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien
The Barns at Wolf Trap
Tim O'Brien and Darrell Scott don’t need to tour behind their latest album Memories and Moments. For that matter, there was really no pressing need for them to record it although their last recorded collaboration Real Time was incredibly well received.
Still, it’s a good bet neither artist is scrambling for work.
The Grammy Award winning O’Brien, a founding member of Hot Rize and an innovator of contemporary bluegrass, is in demand as a solo performer and songwriter whose songs have been recorded by artists including Dierks Bentley, Kathy Mattea and the Seldom Scene.
And of course Scott, a member of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy who wrote the 2007 American Music Association Song of the Year “Hank Williams Ghost,” is also an in-demand as both a solo artist and songwriter. He has penned major hits for household name musicians including Garth Brooks, the Dixie Chicks, and Faith Hill.
No, the reason the two record and tour together is likely the same reason they are each so successful — they aren’t looking to use audio tricks or gimmicks to hit the charts. Instead they strip down bluegrass, traditional country and folk to its roots and play it with the genuine joy of those that have just discovered it. Yeah, that sounds corny but anyone who attended the duo’s recent show at The Barns at Wolf Trap, just outside of Washington, D.C., would undoubtedly concur. Scoff if you want, but the almost-to-capacity audience, which included a healthy dose of Generation X fans mixed among the Baby Boomers, couldn’t get enough of this down-home sound with the folk-happy groove.
Sure, both men have songs made famous by rock-pretending-to-be-country artists — we’ll let you select which artists fit that category — but theirs was a classic folk/bluegrass/country show of the finest order. Not only was the music played effortlessly and seemingly note perfect, but Scott and O’Brien embraced the audience as warmly as they did the various friends and family who received a few shout outs from the stage with no rock-star attitudes in sight.
“It only took us 13 years since the last album for us to record this one,” said multi-instrumentalist O’Brien making fun of their hiatus.
True, the two haven’t teamed up for a project in quite a while, but anyone who sees them perform won’t be able to deny that they share a musical spirit. Beside the easy yin and yang of their performance that included a humorous cover of George Jones’ “Just One More,” and the powerful original “Time to Talk to Joseph,” they showed what the power of their collaboration.
Nowhere was that more evident than in their rendition of “Keep Your Dirty Lights On,” a song they wrote together about mining that resulted in one of the standing ovations of the evening.
As many popular musicians reach deeper into the multi-media bag of tricks to keep audiences engaged, some have asked if, moving ahead, there will still be a place for performers and acoustic guitars.
This Scott and O’Brien concert underscored what artists who record everything from hip hop to rock to bluegrass often predict — that truly great acoustic music will not only rise again but outpace other genres. Clearly Scott and O’Brien are leading the way.