Concert review: Darrell Scott engages devoted fans at the Old Rock House, Friday, February 17

flickr.com/photos/24365773@N03/5136857592 / Phil King

Without regard for cold starts or protocol for warming up the crowd, Darrell Scott began his set last night with “River Take Me,” and immediately turned the entire Old Rock House audience attention to the stage. For the reminder of the night we were rapt by his song stories of life and love.

Scott not only stands out as a solo performer but also as a musician and songwriter called upon to contribute by some of the greatest performers of our time. He has performed live or in the studio with the likes of Robert Plant, Joan Baez, Del McCoury and Guy Clark to name a few. His songs have been recorded and performed by Brad Paisley, Keb Mo, Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw and a slew of other artists who could be considered the who’s who in country and Americana music. His album “A Crooked Road” received the 2011 Independent Music Award for Best Country Album and his performance of “Willow Creek” on the same album received a Grammy nomination for best country instrumental performance.

Darrell drove to St Louis from his home in Nashville for this show making it possible to bring along a bouzouki — or as Darrell put it, “an octave mandolin if you’re in the TSA line” — and a fretless banjo in addition to his guitar. The bouzouki went unused until the encore was performed but the banjo did come out about mid set for “Banjo Clark.” The familiar percussive banjo sound was present but the fretless banjo added sliding and lilting accents adding a dimension to banjo with which I was completely unfamiliar. It will definitely remain in my memory as some of the most interesting and enjoyable banjo playing I have witnessed.

The crowd at the Old Rock House was nothing short of devoted to Scott’s music, calling out requests and carrying vinyl copies of his new album “Long Ride Home.” From my balcony perch I had an exceptional view and felt as close enough to the stage to hold a conversation with Scott. His moving performance of “Mahala” was preceded by recounting how he wrote it when his daughter Mahala was about one and half years old and how he had recently visited her, now twenty one and living in New York. Darrell had the audience join in for the last chorus of the song. It was a wonderful experience being part of an audience who truly loved his music.

Darrell set about wrapping up his set with the hilariously funny and engaging “Spelling Bee Romance.” Before the song began we were given instruction on how to go about inciting an encore once he had finished. So we all clapped immediately — an entire song too early — and then repeated this immediately after the song and again after the following song and were thanked by Scott with two encores — finally using the bouzouki for the last song.

The night closed with Scott standing near the exit and engaging any of us who wanted to speak with him as we passed to leave. Fans lined up to buy albums and everyone was happily buzzing with excitement. I couldn’t help but feel it was a great night to be alive.

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