Darrell Scott live in Belfast
One of the many great things about the Belfast Nashville Festival is that you can often find yourself within feet of some of the very best artists from the world of Americana.
The first time I had heard Darrell Scott play was on the magnificent Transatlantic Sessions on RTE when he played the haunting ‘You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive’ – a ghostly narrative of life in the Kentucky Hills.
The last time, he was playing wingman to Robert Plant in the Band of Joy in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall, offering harmonies, guitar, mandolin, banjo, pedal, lap steel, and anything else that wasn’t pinned down.
It was ultimately that versatility and incredible talent, which caught my attention and it is a credit to the organisers of the Belfast Nashville Festival that he was playing solo at the Clayton Hotel.
Scott has a formidable presence on stage and at 57 years of age his voice has lost little of its tone, range, and power.
With 13 studio albums in the bank and a list of collaborations that would sit well on any CV, Scott matches his singing and song writing ability with a beautiful finesse to his playing.
Along with Band of Joy, he has worked with, Tim O’Brien, Guy Clark, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Emmylou Harris, Mary Gauthier and Steve Earle.
By his own admission, he’s not a fan of play lists and spends most of his time playing but when he does talk in between songs, it’s usually worth listening to.
He pays tribute to some of his heroes and mentors including James Taylor, Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt through anecdotes and cover version. (Guy Clarke – ‘Desperados Waiting On A Train’ and Townes Van Zandt – ‘Loretta’.)
The set is peppered with old songs and many from the 2016 recording ‘The Couchville Sessions’, including ‘It’s Time To Go Away’ and ‘Down To The River’.
In the final set, Scott plays ‘Shattered Cross’ – a song from the late 1990s and remarkably a collaboration with Stuart Adamson from Big Country – further testimony of his diversity and depth.
To quote the man himself from ‘Down To The River’:
We won’t give a damn if it’s rock, folk, country or blues…
Amen to that.