Darren Beachley is known in bluegrass circles for his 30-plus years in the genre, most notably as the lead vocalist and guitarist for Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.
The Point of Rocks resident also played dobro with Bill Harrell’s band The Virginians and, more locally, formed Darren Beachley & Legends of the Potomac, which performed primarily in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Most recently, Turnberry Records, based in Rancho Mirage, California, signed Beachley to their label with a commitment to release two albums within the next three years, the first of which will likely drop later this year and contain a mix of original and traditional bluegrass songs.
This new project also marks a return to Beachley’s first love, the resonator guitar.
Beachley took a few minutes to talk with us about what he’s been up to in recent years and his excitement to work with Turnberry and a number of guest artists on the next album.
What have you been up to since performing regularly with Doyle Lawson and also Legends of the Potomac?
When I left Doyle in 2009, I formed The Legends and we had a great time, with our first and only release reaching No. 11 on Billboard and No. 1 on the Roots Music Charts.
Mike Auldridge became ill and eventually left the road before his passing, and I am not sure I have really ever gotten over Mike’s passing. He was a hero and mentor. So in 2011, I just decided it wasn’t the same and went and got a “real job.”
It was also time to prepare for my future and retirement — et cetera, et cetera, seeing my kids and wife more. So I took a job with Environmental Services at Frederick Memorial Hospital and eventually became the assistant director in the department. Three years ago, Inova Loudoun Hospital came calling, offering the director’s position, and I took that.
In the winter of 2019, I started playing resophonic [or resonator] guitar again, which was my first love as an instrument.
Tell us a little about Mid Maryland United, your involvement with it, and why it was important to you.
I was involved in Mid Maryland United Baseball Organization until November of last year. I had been there five years. It is a boys baseball organization that travels all over the country, and we try to coach these boys about not only baseball but life. We try to get them into colleges to play baseball, get an education, come back to the community, and raise a family and give back — building better communities through baseball.
I stepped down as president last November. Every kid I coached, I still try and follow via Facebook, and it makes my heart happy to see them doing well. Mid Maryland United continues on to this day with the same mission.
Will these three albums with Turnberry Records be released under the name Darren Beachley? Do you have a new band you’ll be performing with?
I wasn’t really looking for a label, but Rebekah Speer is working for them as well, and she is singing a song my new project. I jokingly said, “Y’all looking for an artist?” She replied, “Maybe.”
After talking with Daniel Routh, the director of artist relations, and Keith [Turnberry Records owner Keith Barncastle], I was pumped, because they are going to do things outside the box.
I didn’t want a band. I didn’t want to be a band leader again. Keith and Daniel were totally onboard with Darren Beachley making the record he wants to make, and the record I want to make is a mix of bluegrass and Americana. Turnberry is allowing me to be me.
Are you writing much on the first album?
I do have a few songs on this album that I had a hand in writing. “36’ Flood,” with Kenny Ray Horton, we wrote with the aid of my grandfather, who passed away in January. It’s a song about the grandaddy of all the floods on the Potomac in 1936. My grandparents farmed the river bottoms in Lander, and my grandfather was 8 years old and told me stories of the flood and the sights and stories he remembered. I wish he had lived to hear the completed project.
Is there a timeline on a projected release date, or is it too early to say?
Hard to say on release date, as it will have singles released before the full project releases, and Turnberry has some different ideas that I love. I would say late fall, early winter for a full release.
How is this project different from your past work?
This project, I would say, is going to be the best work I have done to date. These are songs that I have had 10 years to pick out or write. The difference is the treatment of each song, and the production of each song is based more on what treatment the song needs, rather than forcing it into a genre.
It sounds like you’re bringing lots of guest artists onto the album. Is there anyone you’ve not played with before that you’re excited to work with or other highlights you’re looking forward to?
Oh, I have some really great people working on this. The cool part, if there is a cool part of COVID, is all musicians were sitting home, all looking for work. I really had a ball working with Scott Vestal, who won the Steve Martin award for banjo a couple years back, and his brother Curtis. Also Clay Hess and Alan Bibey — Clay worked with Ricky Skaggs for a time and Alan Bibey has been an IBMA mandolin player many, many times. Truth is, all of the people on the this project had a specific quality or sound that I wanted.
Where will the first album be recorded?
In October and November, I built a studio in my basement. My youngest son, Bryan, has, for the last year, been into production of R&B and rap music, so we built the studio, and he’s been helping produce me. His brutal honesty is something that took some getting used to.
All the guest artists have their own studios, so we are using the modern technology of emailing tracks to musicians, they do the performance and send it back, and we edit it and put it in the song.
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