John Driskell Hopkins has walked the musical path for the last 20 years. As a bass player, guitar player, singer and songwriter for several bands of the rock variety, Hopkins rooted himself in the Atlanta, GA music scene in 1995, producing records and touring with his band Brighter Shade and later becoming a founding member of the Zac Brown Band to this day. Now he has teamed up with North Carolina-based band and Mountain Home Recording artists, Balsam Range, to record and independently produce a new album, Daylight, set for national release on January 22nd.
John is thrilled to have included several special guests on the album, including Zac Brown on “I Will Lay Me Down,” a sweet and sacred song; Levi Lowrey on “How Could I?” a song co-written by the two, and the heavenly Joey Feek of Joey + Rory on the autobiographical “Bye Baby Goodbye.” And of the musicians featured on Daylight, John could not have done better: the unmatched Jerry Douglas opens the record with dobro on “Runaway Train,” and Tony Trischka brings his banjo mastery to the title-track, “Daylight,” a longtime song in Hopkins’ repertoire about breaking through life’s troubles into brighter times.
Of performing with with BR, John says “Being on stage with Balsam Range is like body-surfing in warm butter-cream icing with hillbilly cherubs. Smooth…” Balsam Range is Buddy Melton (fiddle, vocals), Darren Nicholson (Mandolin, vocals), Marc Pruett (Banjo, Vocals), Caleb Smith (guitar, vocals), and Tim Surrett (bass, dobro, vocals).
Balsam Range’s Marc Pruett says, “John Hopkins is a serious student of all kinds of music, and I think it comes through well in the songs he writes. He really runs the gambit from soft, Gospel-sounding acoustic, to hard, driving rock-swing things. John is a ‘power singer,’ and man he can deliver.”
If you’re a Zac Brown Band fan, you’ll hear a couple familiar songs, though most tracks are newly penned with BR’s talent and magic in mind, and a couple songs are some of John’s oldest tunes, written with his band of many years, Brighter Shade, and beautifully reworked for this special new project.