Darren Nicholson’s instrumental “Dillsboro Blues” captures the ups and downs of life

Article Contributed by Mountain Home … | Published on Saturday, April 8, 2023

Hot on the heels of his chart-topping single, “Arkansas Without You,” and the uplifting message of his “Leave It In The Hands of the Lord,” Darren Nicholson returns to complete a bluegrass trifecta of sorts — murder ballad, gospel song and instrumental — with a sly instrumental, “Dillsboro Blues,” serving up a healthy dose of virtuosity in a package that puts a few neat curves into an otherwise straightforward musical road.  

Starting out with Bill Monroe-inspired mandolin trills over a walking bass rhythm, “Dillsboro Blues” quickly re-settles into a steady mid-tempo groove laid down by bassist Zachary Smith (Town Mountain) and guitarist Colby Laney, underpinning Nicholson’s exposition of the tune’s slinky A part and Latin-flavored B section. Solos from fiddle phenom Billy Contreras (Béla Fleck, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder), Laney and the Sam Bush Band’s Wes Corbett (banjo) follow — deftly mingling snatches of Nicholson’s melody with inspired flights of improvisational fancy — before Nicholson returns to drive the performance home.

“‘Dillsboro Blues’ is a tune I wrote in honor of my mother,” says Nicholson. “Dillsboro is the little town in Western North Carolina where she was born and raised. It’s known for a train depot as well as the famous Jarrett House Bed and Breakfast. My mom grew up in hard times. The tune, to me, represents struggles — the ups and downs of a hard life and the willingness to keep fighting to persevere. She’s got true grit and is an inspiration to me. It’s a hillbilly, moody blues tune. Love you, Mom!”

Listen to "Dillsboro Blues" HERE.