The first time I heard Darrin Kobetich it was one of those blessed surprises that sneaks up on your ear. It was my first brunch at Hot Damn Tamales, and I was overwhelmed by the delicious flavors. He was certainly not playing when I sat down, but within in a few minutes, as though it were creeping up on me, Kobetich’s fingerstyle had wrested my attention away from the food. An almost hypnotic display of technical proficiency not just of instrumental acumen, but further an indication of techniques from all over the world. The tunes bear within them a sense of transit, of a journey across a distance. You might notice Middle Eastern sounds, even African or Asian tones; or you could simply allow yourself to be carried away upon the stream of sound he is able to generate.
A couple of weeks later, we met up for a beer at the Boiled Owl. The first thing I noticed was the enormity of his hands. I was swept back to his performance, those very same hands covering the neck of 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 when recounting his daughter’s discovery of Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy.
Continuing on this rock and roll trajectory, he found himself joining thrash-metal group Hammer Witch in the late 80s. The album Legacy of Pain was re-issued a couple of years ago, “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. After all of these experiences, he sites the 2003 theft of his gear as the start of his solo career.
Earlier this year, Darrin Kobetich released his fourth record, The Longest Winter, an intricately winding collection of tunes that bear countless styles. It is truly a tribute to his wandering ear and very agile hands, that he is able to blend so many musical ideas into one cohesive whole. As indicated by his uses of the sounds of water, bugs chirping and wind chimes, the album has an incredibly 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 unique landscape that like a great score excites the listener by finding ingenious ways to engage the theme. The blues, bluegrass and even a flash of his old metal days, blend together with other genres. “Fahey Street,” is a fine memoriam to the great master John Fahey.
In addition to his alternating Sundays at Hot Damn, Darrin Kobetich can also be heard playing music for the Hip Pocket Theater’s presentation of The Hawkline Monster. For the next four weekends (9/14-10/7), you can catch a show that is described as a “blend of cowpoke humor with touches of the macabre.” Darrin not only performs the theatrical score, but also plays before the show as well. Check out their listings for more details, and get out and see some of our great local talent.