A mainstay in the world of Americana and bluegrass music, Darren Beachley is best known for his longtime role as guitarist and lead vocalist with Doyle Lawson’s seminal group, Quicksilver. With his new album, Beachley proves there’s a lot more to his musical story - and that, after a career spanning more than three decades, he’s just getting started.
“This project explores the road I didn’t take,” explains Beachley. “Many people don’t know that I started off in the music world as a Dobro player.” The Maryland native began his journey playing alongside his musician parents in venues across the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. “I got my first big break with a bluegrass great, Bill Harrell,” Beachley continues, “who hired me to play Dobro with his band the Virginians.” From there, Beachley went on to share the stage with everyone from Tony Rice to beloved DC bluegrass pioneers the Seldom Scene, and many more along the way.
When the role with Doyle Lawson came along, Beachley's musical career headed down a different path. With Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Beachley performed as a guitarist and lead vocalist on stages all across the globe, including Los Angeles’ famed Hollywood Bowl and the country world’s holy grail, the Grand Ole Opry. Afterwards, he formed Darren Beachley & Legends of the Potomac, an all-star group of DC-area musicians. “Even when I wasn’t performing on the Dobro, it’s always been important to me,” says Beachley.
Like so many musicians, Beachley found himself with extra time on his hands during the COVID-19 pandemic. “My son has a home studio,” he explains, “And since nobody was working, I was able to put together an amazing lineup of artists I admire. What came about was a project that takes me back to my roots as a Dobro player.”
Aptly titled The Road Not Taken, Beachley’s new album features performances from fellow Quicksilver alums Scott Vestal, Curt Vestal, and Josh Swift - along with Alan Bibey, Clay Hess, Marshall Wilborn, Sam Bush, Carl White, Pat White, Mike Phipps, Wyatt Rice, Shawn Lane, Troy Engle, Kristen Bearfield, Kenny Ray Horton, Stephen Burwell, Joe Wolking, Rebekah Speer, Christy Shaver, Tina Eck, Cynthia Marie, and more.
“I had a lot of songs I had saved over the years with the goal of doing a project like this,” says Beachley, “and with this group of players, I really went for it!” The resulting album contains a variety of genres and influences from Beachley’s life, presented in his signature bluegrass and Americana style. “River Full of Blues,” a powerful progressive tune about love gone wrong, kicks off the project. “Memories of My Younger Days” hearkens back to the classic sound of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and “Pictures I Still Carry” finds Beachley reflecting on where he’s been and what still lies ahead.
The album also features an eclectic mix of tasteful covers. “I heard Jonathan Edwards do Nanci Griffith’s ‘Listen to the Radio’ many years ago and it always stuck with me,” describes Beachley. “It gave me the chance to play some lap steel - another instrument that I love.” With “Forever Man,” Beachley and his crack team of studio musicians even venture into 80’s power-rock. “Eric Clapton is one of my longtime musical heroes,” explains Beachley. “We wanted to put a newgrass spin on this one, so I called the one and only Sam Bush.” The album’s illustrious cast of musicians has inspired Beachley to reach for new heights. “When you work with the best, it’s the best,” he concludes. After the recording sessions wrapped in 2021, Beachley signed to Turnberry Records to help bring the project to life.