Darren Hall: ‘I’ve found my voice’
A California music promoter and a producer were out one night in Venice, Calif., a couple years ago when they first heard this singer/songwriter named Darren Hall.
Although he was the son of Daryl Hall, lead vocalist of Hall & Oates, he was a relative unknown outside Southern California and Duluth, Minn., where he grew up.
Darren Hall, 30, will gain exposure to a new group of music fans during his upcoming show with rockers Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, a band that also originated in Venice.
Added twist: Lukas Nelson, 25, is the son of country legend Willie Nelson.
Despite the bond of having well-known musician fathers, Hall and Nelson had not met until Hall, who will play a solo, acoustic set, was paired with Nelson & P.O.T.R. for a Grand Junction show at 7 p.m. Friday, March 28, at Mesa Theater and Lounge, 538 Main St.
The Grand Valley’s The Williams Brothers Band will join Hall and headliners Lukas & P.O.T.R. for the night of rock.
It is the only show Hall is scheduled to play with Nelson & P.O.T.R. at this time.
Tickets to the all-ages show cost $20 in advance at Vic’s Music, 508 E. Main St., in Montrose; Rhema Music & Clothing, 126 S. Park Square, in Fruita; or at the Mesa Theater box office. Tickets cost $25 the day of the show.
Nelson & P.O.T.R. go from Grand Junction to Snowmass and Denver before returning to California to play support for Willie Nelson.
In advance of their Grand Junction show, Hall and Nelson spoke in phone interviews about their careers, their music and their musical fathers.
Melinda Mawdsley: So this is your first time touring outside California?
Darren Hall: Yeah. Absolutely. I have gone back to Duluth, but this is my first show that is “you are on the bill.” Sounds crazy because I’m 30. I’ve just always wanted to be ready. I’m now in the position through many little things that have happened. It’s all coming together. ... This might open some doors, but I’ll be happy to just go out and play.
Mawdsley: Speaking of Duluth. I’ve never associated northern Minnesota with a hot music scene. What was it like growing up there?
Hall: When I was growing up it was very un-hot. When I was in middle school, there was this little coffee shop to go do open mic. Now, there’s a little more going on. It’s a little twirly moustache, serving beers in mason jars, hipsters scene.
Mawdsley: Did you grow up around music?
Hall: I’ve been in music my whole life. I’ve been singing in choir since 5, played piano and started playing violin at 10.
Mawdsley: Talk about the journey that took you from Duluth out to Venice, Calif., where you really started to pursue music professionally.
Hall: I moved out here when I was 20. I had never really left Minnesota. I had $100 and got a job temping until I got my video game testing job and did that for 2 1/2 years until I met my dad.
Mawdsley: Your father is Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates fame. Did he have any influence on your career?
Hall: I was on tour with them for three years. I’ve always respected his music and vocally I can do some of those things he can do, but I couldn’t be farther from that. I didn’t grow up in Philadelphia.
Mawdsley: Are you two close?
Hall: We are not anymore. There was a time when I tried. He just didn’t seem like it was something he was open to.
Mawdsley: I’m sorry.
Hall: There was a time, especially right after meeting my dad, I did kind of wallow in it. I had a lot of self-pity, but if you don’t wake yourself up no one else will. At the end of the day you have to look around and say, “I’m paying $1,800 to live in the literal shadow of a subway and the figurative shadow of my dad.” I feel like I’ve been dealt a great hand and a crappy hand. I’ve been given so many natural tools. Situationally, it hasn’t been amazing. I’ve had a lot of crazy hardships that have happened in the family. ... It’s not like he was there until I was 5 and left in some Lifetime-esque movie. I was raised by women predominantly. There was a lack of a male influence in the household. I kind of had to be my own daddy, learning how to shave from watching movies. I don’t want to say “adopted,” but I was definitely taken in by different friends, and their dads would be my surrogate father. From 12 or 13, I was a little man. I’ve never had any other experience but my own. I’m only who I am and don’t know who I would be otherwise.
Mawdsley: What music did you listen to growing up then?
Hall: Michael Jackson, New Kids on the Block. But after 8 or 9, I moved in with my grandmother. She was Pentecostal, so most of my formative years were spent in the church. She was very rigid in that respect, so I didn’t get a lot of outside influence for a while. For a while, growing up (I listened to) DC Talk. I learned a lot of my songwriting from DC Talk. They kill it, their harmonies. I loved classical. I loved Irish music. Because I cut my teeth playing guitar in church, I’ve always been drawn to simple chords ... then I can get more complex in lyrics and what the song’s doing underneath. Music is a way to express things in ways you can’t with words.
Mawdsley: I’d love to hear in your words, what does your music sound like?
Hall: I don’t know. It’s kind of folky but not really folk. It’s kind of rocky but not really rock. I get the, “You sound like Jeff Buckley” a lot. My range is all over the place. I’ve been a vocalist my whole life. Now, out here people are like “You are such an amazing guitar player,” but growing up it was about the voice.
Mawdsley: What can people expect from that first EP when you get funding to produce it.
Hall: No official title yet. This EP has some newer songs I’ve written, and older ones, all acoustic. This is the first release, and it’s been a long time coming. This project is important to me because I can get some stuff out. I’ve found my voice a little bit.
(Mawdsley: I spoke to Hall after his show at Mesa Theater, and he said the decision was made after Out & About went to press to start raising money for the first album on Friday, March 28, through site Indiegogo.com. His website is darrenhallmusic.com.)