Darren Nicholson releases “Big Sky," announces newest band members

Article Contributed by Mountain Home … | Published on Sunday, June 23, 2024

“This is one of my favorite cuts of my entire recording career,” says Darren Nicholson — and when an artist with a decades-long resumé like his says something like that, it’s worth taking note. Following in the history-driven vein of his first single of the year, “Ain’t No Sin” — a tale of western North Carolina bootlegging — the new Mountain Home Music Company single is a gripping story song that recounts highlights of the life of a late 18th century trapper and explorer.

“‘Big Sky’ is based on the true story of early American explorer, John Colter,” explains Nicholson. “He was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and became the first known person of European descent to enter the region which became Yellowstone National Park. There are several fascinating periods of his life and career. I became aware of him through a fabulous book about his survival and harrowing adventures called Colter’s Run. He was one of the first true mountain men. This was the inspiration for the song when Charles Humphrey III and myself set out to write it — and I also think it would make a great film!”

The cinematic feel of the track is evident from its outset, as a moody opening leads to a free form statement of Colter’s identity that will reappear in the soaring chorus:

Big sky caught my eye
Until the day I die

The theme established, mandolinist Nicholson and a distinguished studio cast — award winners Kristin Scott Benson (banjo) and Deanie Richardson (fiddle); Town Mountain bassist Zach Smith; legendary multi-instrumentalist David Johnson on dobro and frequent collaborator Colby Laney on guitar, together with harmony vocals from Jennifer Nicholson and another long-time colleague Kevin Sluder — unfurl Colter’s tale, punctuated by solos from Johnson and Laney.  And while it clocks in at a luxurious 4 minutes plus, “Big Sky” keeps the action — and the music — moving with Colter’s restless energy all the way through.

Adds Nicholson, “I feel there’s a special spirit in the song and the way it turned out — the musicians knocked it out of the park in regard to capturing the mood and old-time essence. Hope you enjoy!”

“Big Sky” is streaming in Dolby Atmos spatial audio on Apple Music, Amazon Music and TIDAL. Listen to it HERE.

Alongside the song’s release, Nicholson is excited to announce that Aynsley Porchak and Avery Welter have joined the Darren Nicholson Band alongside Kevin Sluder and Richard Foulk. Both students of East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program, Porchak and Welter bring years of experience to the band.

“I’m most excited about feeling inspired and re-energized with this ‘new and improved’ version of The Darren Nicholson Band,” says Nicholson. “Aynsley and Avery bring a unique mix of professionalism and experience along with a youthful energy. That, combined with their own musical styles and backgrounds, helps make the sound of this band different from any other.

"The key factor for me in this rejuvenation is the attitudes. WE HAVE FUN!!” he continues. “It’s rare to find people who have the same mindset and values about music, travel, entertainment, and life. We have the same goals and this makes the vibes on stage better, as well as the music. We’re all grateful to have been afforded many different experiences and opportunities in our individual paths, and look forward to sharing more together. Simply put, we just want to play the best music we can, have fun, and share that joy with others!”