Darren Nicholson releases solo project

By Mary Ann Enloe | Dec 11, 2013

Darren Nicholson plays a mean mandolin with Haywood County's world-renowned IBMA-award-winning bluegrass-and-more band Balsam Range.

When he occasionally produces a personal project, it goes straight to the top of my list of favorites. That's the case with "Things Left Undone." An eclectic mix of everything from writer Shawn Camp's plaintive "I'm Not Going There Today" that'll hurt your heart, to a blue-ribbon cover of Bill Monroe's "Bluegrass Stomp," this one's a keeper.

"Balsam Range is my first priority, of course," said Nicholson last week. "But I like producing records and singing different types of music when I have time."

Nicholson's friends show up on "Things Left Undone." The title cut features Nicholson with John Driscoll Hopkins of the Zac Brown Band, Tim Surrett of Balsam Range, Carl Jackson, Tony Creasman, David Johnson, and Nicholson's best friend Steve Sutton who toured with both Rhonda Vincent and Alecia Nugent.

After years appearing on such shows as the Grand Ole Opry and Hee-Haw, Sutton has come back home to Waynesville where the Grammy-nominated and IBMA-award-winning banjo player stays busy with three bands and is sought-after as a studio musician.

"I'm glad to be a part of Darren's latest project," said Sutton who collaborated on the engineering. "Darren has a way of getting some of the best musicians in the business to say 'yes' to him."

The album's gospel cut, "Give Mother My Crown," features Audie Blaylock of Redline and regional favorite Eddie Rose on harmony. Nicholson's beautiful "In a Perfect World" was penned by Waynesville native and Tuscola graduate Milan Miller who is now a successful Nashville songwriter and performer.

One of my favorite cuts is "Durango," written by Shawn Camp who performed in Canton last year with Balsam Range. In addition to Nicholson, Sutton, David Johnson, Tony Creasman, Carl Jackson and Balsam Range's Tim Surrett, "Durango" features vocalist Jennifer Nicholson on harmony.

Mega-star Rhonda Vincent sings with Jennifer on my other favorite "I'm Not Going There Today." In private life, the talented choral director at Asheville High School is Mrs. Darren Nicholson. Mountain musicians are a good lot.

At their Winter Concert Series opener last week, Balsam Range not only plugged their mandolin player's personal project, they performed two cuts from his album onstage. That's class. Darren Nicholson will be at Smoky Mountain Roasters Coffee Shop on Hazelwood's business block at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11 to give us a taste of "Things Left Undone" and more, with The Darren Nicholson Band.

It's free and it's fun. Come on down, make a contribution if you can to Project Challenge which helps at-risk youth, and hear some of the best music on the planet.