Updated: Jan 9
Yes...mid week! "A packed house mid week in the north bay" is a sentence I dont get to use too often. And Darlingside did it! Darlingside attracted a very strong following to this show at Sweetwater Music Hall...on a Wednesday! Worth repeating this for sure.
Darlingside was a four piece indie folk band from when i first saw them. The four guys are from Boston and met at Williams College initially. They've now been together for a dozen years and have reconfigured from a four piece to a six peice with slightley revolving band members. Two women and a guy have replaced the one member who has taken a hiatus for the west coast tour. I chatted with Darlingside member, Don Mitchell, I asked him about the new lineup and the original member that was not present at this show, Dave, and he said, "Dave is taking a hiatus from touring but is still in the band". New touring band members for this west coast tour are Molly Parden (bass), Ben Burns (drums), and Deni Hlavinka (keys) along with original members, Don Mitchell on guitar, Auyon Mukarji on violin and mandolin, Harris Paseltiner on cello and guitar. Don went on to say, "Dave is still a member, just not touring for the foreseeable future. It'll potentially be a rotating cast going forward with the new band members. Molly and Ben are on the November tour, but Deni is not."
I asked Don, where did the name Darlingside come from? He said, "Darlingside is a reference to the old writing advice "kill your darlings" Darlingcide is to Darlings as Pesticide is to Pests...but we changed the spelling so it wouldn't be mispronounced all the time."
They live together whilst they're on the road. The core band is Massachusetts-based, and the touring band consists of Ben in Maine, Deni in LA, and Molly in Nashville. Onstage its obvious thet the six musicians are very close, as their friendly but sarcastic dry banter is woven throughout their musical performance. And at a few points I was unsure if they were comedians or musicians but the Darlingside package is certainly both. Their dry humour is quite funny and this band shows the audience that they know each other super well. They talk about everything from favourite foods to who they would eat first in case of a disaster, to making fun of one band members' love for Le Croix coconut water.
I first learned about this band a couple years ago through one of my dear, music loving, musician friends, Doug Blumer. He showed me a video of the band performing at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival a couple years ago, and I immediately loved their harmonies. My friend Doug is not only a very talented musician with a gorgeous voice, (with his own band, Bohemian Highway), but he's also very passionate about his music and new musical discoveries. As I am. So of course, I paid attention to him recommending this band. I liked the quartet Doug showed me on the video, so when I heard they're playing locally, I went. And I'm glad I did. And even if I didnt like their music, (which I do)...I love to laugh, and they definitley provided the comedy! I enjoyed the tunes...and to top it off, the comedy was also very much appreciated.
Darlingsides' lyrics and harmonies are wonderful. Their harmonies reminded me of The Indigo Girls, or Crosby, Stills and Nash. Really lovely harmonies, and they all have spectacular voices when they got to show off their strong individual vocal skills.
Its very obvious that the Darlingside songwriters are excellent wordsmiths, as the lyrics are a strong ingredient in their songs. When I chatted with Don Mitchell I asked him who writes the songs for Darlingside, he said, "We write together and share all credits equally, though some songs are spearheaded by a person or a pair within the group, even more so on the upcoming record that we're previewing some songs from on this tour".
They have released three albums in their 12 years together, and I noticed at the show, that many audience members knew most of the lyrics to most of their song library. And the harmonies are simply the icing on the cake for this band. They have a mixed fan following, with many younger fans that filled much of the Sweetwater Music Hall on this night. If you are a music lover and like indie-folk style with stunning harmonies and great lyrics, I'd suggest you check out Darlingside.