Making his return to Dublin as a solo artist for the first time in awhile Darrell Scott takes to the stage at 8pm before an attentive and appreciative audience. Other than a quick “thank you very much” Scott played a opening selection of songs that display his guitar playing skills as well as his distinctive voice and well-written songs. However after the first three songs he moves to the piano and delivers the first of several stories about the songs or life in general. One such antidote was that quite often that songs come from a place for many writers feel is “beyond our tool set.” Looking Glass is a song that deals with that magical process “Feels like someone’s looking over my shoulder, I turn around and no one’s there.” He also tells us of his love for traditional country music, something he heard to the exclusion of any other music growing up. His father played this music in the cab of his truck and was a Hank Williams and Johnny Cash man, while his mother’s preference was for Marty Robbins and Tammy Wynette. They met however in a shared love for Merle Haggard.
Scott didn’t move to Nashville himself for quite some time “until I got my shite together.” Country music was about dark cheating and drinking songs; something he mused had almost disappeared from today’s mainstream country music. Those older songs were not Margaritaville, red cup or tail gate party songs but hard living hard drinking tales. One of his own songs Too Close For Comfort dealt with the topic and he felt that another country themed song was Waiting For The Clothes To Get Clean. The latter comes from his most recent album Couchville Sessions. A collection of songs from which he also included Down To The River. A song that was the first track on the album.
Given the way people listen music these days he felt he needed to put one of the strongest songs first. Statistics show how each song on an album in order of track placing gets less and less play. Scott had envisioned using Guy Clark for the final coda of this song when he recorded the song he had left space at the end of the song for this recitation. He told us how he had gone out to Clark’s home to record his voice and after couple of hours saw Clark hit a place where they both knew he had found his moment. That was the piece he used.
Scott hasn’t used a set list for a long time preferring to gauge the audience on the night and play the songs he feels fit best. Tonight he had a number of requests and a couple of these he played such as Rod McKuen’s Jean at the piano with a set of hand-written lyrics before him. He also played the traditional Wayfaring Pilgrim on the piano - a song he'd featured to great effect on his Live In NC album.
Another couple of highlights in an engaging set were his versions of Johnny Cash’s I Still Miss Someone and Red Hayes and Jack Rhodes oft-covered but still resonant Satisfied Mind. A song he informed us that he had chosen as his spotlight song in the live set with Robert Plant’s Band of Joy as it seem to fit better than any of his own songs. Scott clear appreciates the songs of others as his set is peppered with such choices. Another was his version of Townes Van Zandt’s Loretta; also a song taken from his Couchville Sessions collection.
The audience was largely silent throughout the set other than to applaud the songs at their finish. The sound was crystal clear for which Scott thanked the sound engineer as he also did the audience for coming out. There was humour inherent in the patter too with Scott apologising for the recent election as well as for the green beer and hats that are often associated with St. Patrick’s Day in America. He was going to be in Ireland for our festive day he explained as after his series of Irish dates he would be involved with a song writing masterclass.
From my personal perspective I preferred the second set to the first as he seemed to get into his stride and I simply prefered the song choices. Everybody there, familiar with his albums and songs, would have had a favourite and given his catalogue it is likely that some personal favourites were not played. This didn’t detract though from the obvious enjoyment that both sides of the stage got from the evening. He told us that following the last song there would be no encore as the final song would say it all. If we liked the show, he quipped, we should tell friends and if we didn’t we should keep it to ourselves. The word is out.
Review by Stephen Rapid Photogrph by Ronnie Norton