The first time I heard Darrin Kobetich it was one of those blessed surprises. He was certainly not playing when I sat down for brunch, but within in a few minutes, as though creeping up on me, Kobetich’s fingerstyle had wrested my attention away from the delicious food. An almost hypnotic display of technical proficiency not just of instrumental acumen, but further of techniques from all over the world. The tunes bear a sense of transit, of a journey across a distance. You might notice Middle Eastern, even African or Asian tones pooling with sounds from the Delta, the Mountains and the spaces in between.
We met up for a beer at The Boiled Owl and the first thing I noticed was the enormity of his hands. Swept back to his performance, those very same hands covered his guitar with nimble quickness. Originally from Long Island, Kobetich’s family moved to Weatherford when he was a teen. By then he had already picked up the guitar, as well as an appetite for good records, “My dad had Chuck Berry and The Ventures on the turntable, he was the one who showed me my first chords. We never had a generation gap growing up, not musically.” Darrin beams happily recounting his own daughter’s discovery of Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy.
Continuing on this rock and roll trajectory, he joined thrash-metal group Hammer Witch in the late 80s. The album Legacy of Pain was re-issued a couple years back, “Its been doing great in Germany and Japan.” While he says there’s no danger of a reunion, Hammer Witch is alive and well for international thrash collectors. From there, our musical wanderer was a part of a band called A Million Pounds. A band inspired by Mr. Bungle, that he says, “just wore itself out.” There has also been his Bluegrass work, first with Electric Mountain Rotten Apple Gang and more recently with Blackland River Devils.
Earlier this year, Darrin Kobetich released his fourth record, The Longest Winter, an intricately winding collection of tunes. A tribute to his wandering ear and very agile hands, his records blend myriad musical ideas into one cohesive whole. Deepened by the sounds of water, bugs chirping and wind chimes, the album has a natural flow, “about a third of it was improvised, and there was a lot of studio fun as well.” Using an array of instruments, he creates a exciting landscape like the score for the listener’s imagination. The blues, bluegrass and even a flash of his old metal days, blend together with other genres and with Fahey Street, he pays his respects to the great master John Fahey.