Band to perform at Ardmore Music Hall
STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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Dave Senft of Darlingside explains the name of the Massachusetts folk band in their bio.
“Pesticide is used to kill pests. Fratricide is when you kill your brother. A former teacher of ours used to say ‘kill your darlings,’ which is to say, if you fall in love with something you’ve written, you should cross it out. We like that idea and we thought a good name for it might be ‘Darlingcide,’ but we changed the C to an S because we’re not super into death,” he says.
If you missed Darlingside’s wit, wide-open arrangements and vocal interplay at this year’s Philadelphia Folk Festival, you can catch this group of friends and multi-instrumentalists Oct. 21 at Ardmore Music Hall.
In a phone interview, violinist, mandolinist and co-vocalist Auyon Mukharji said that Philly is “an extremely special place” for them, but noted that it took a while to find a fan base. Back in the days when they were a five-piece indie rock band, he recalled that there was one show at the Trocadero where only six people showed up.
“WXPN has been huge. XPN was the first station where we happened to hear ourselves on the radio,” said Mukharji, who also gave credit to Jesse Lundy of Point Entertainment in Narberth for helping Darlingside grow an audience here. In February, they were named 2015 “Artist of the Year” by Folk Alliance International.
“We do enjoy talking to the audience,” Mukharji said, warning those who have not seen them before that their banter “can get strange.”
Touring behind “Birds Say,” the lone full-length Darlingside album they’ve released as a quartet, one of the song highlights is called “Harrison Ford.”
“That’s one we enjoy introducing in a very specific way,” he said. “It’s a surreal journey with a man who may, or may not, be Harrison Ford.”
“Birds Say” has shades of ’60s folk, bluegrass, classical and indie rock, as well as instruments like harmonium, Wurlitzer, auto-chord organ and grand piano.
Senft states at darlingside.com: “We wrote this record thinking about our childhoods, our transition into adulthood together, and the complexities of life that we all have to grapple with now.” A good example is the three-part harmony, Appalachian folk-flavored “The God of Loss.”
So how come there’s no drummer?
“We had an excellent drummer behind us. He wasn’t as interested in touring as much,” Mukharji said. “The first few shows (performed as a quartet in 2013), we felt naked without a drummer. We just highlight (the rhythm) in a different way.”
Darlingside is composed music-loving friends that met at Williams College: Mukharji, Senft on bass, guitarist and banjo player Don Mitchell and cellist and guitar picker Harris Paseltiner. Except for Mukharji and Senft, who were roommates as freshman, the bandmates all graduated in different years, between 2006 and 2009. In the early days of being a band, they lived together in a house on the Connecticut River in Hadley, Mass.
“That’s something you could only do (fresh) out of college,” said Mukharji, remembering that with five men (including now-ex-drummer Sam Kapala) sharing four bedrooms, two had to share a bunk bed. “It was very much like a family atmosphere. We ended up cooking dinner for each other every night.”
That togetherness bonded the guys in Darlingside, which is why they write, develop and record their songs side-by-side as a group
“We no longer live together, which is better for everyone,” laughed Mukharji. “None of us is a soloist, per se. All of us need to feel a connection to a piece of music we’re performing.”