John Driskell Hopkins has walked the musical path for the last 20 years. As a bass player, guitar player, singer and songwriter for several bands of the rock variety, Hopkins rooted himself in the Atlanta, GA music scene in 1995, producing records and touring with his band Brighter Shade and later becoming a founding member of the Zac Brown Band to this day. Now he has teamed up with North Carolina bluegrass band, Balsam Range, to record and independently produce a new album, Daylight, which is set for national release on January 22nd. They will be performing an Asheville album release show on Friday, February 1st at the NEW Isis Restaurant and Music Hall.
A lifelong fan of bluegrass and gospel music, John became an instant fan of Balsam Range, an award-winning and unstoppable 5-piece hailing from Haywood County, North Carolina. As John’s plans for a solo record took shape, he realized that BR’s authentic style and approach could bring his songs new life, and a vision for his record became clear.
Of performing with with BR, John says “Being on stage with Balsam Range is like body-surfing in warm butter-cream icing with hillbilly cherubs. Smooth…..” Balsam Range is Buddy Melton (fiddle, vocals), Darren Nicholson (Mandolin, vocals), Marc Pruett (Banjo, Vocals), Caleb Smith (guitar, vocals), and Tim Surrett (bass, dobro, vocals).
Over the course of a year, the collective made use of their sparse days off the road and arranged to pow-wow and track basics at John’s home studio in Atlanta, GA or at Crossroads Studio in Arden, NC, eventually bringing the songs to form. John utilized the Zac Brown Band’s amazing new Southern Ground Studios in Nashville, TN for the final engineering and mixing, and in the middle of September 2012, the album was completed.
John is thrilled to have included several special guests on the album, including Zac Brown on “I Will Lay Me Down,” a sweet and sacred song; Levi Lowrey on “How Could I?” a song co-written by the two, and the heavenly Joey Feek of Joey + Rory on the autobiographical “Bye Baby Goodbye.” And of the musicians featured on Daylight, John could not have done better: the unmatched Jerry Douglas opens the record with dobro on “Runaway Train,” and Tony Trischka brings his banjo mastery to the title-track, “Daylight,” a longtime song in Hopkins’ repertoire about breaking through life’s troubles into brighter times.
If you’re a Zac Brown Band fan, you’ll hear a couple familiar songs, though most tracks are newly penned with BR’s talent and magic in mind, and a couple songs are some of John’s oldest tunes, written with his band of many years, Brighter Shade, and beautifully reworked for this special new project.
Show Details at a Glance:
John Driskell Hopkins and Balsam Range
Album Release Show for Daylight
Isis Restaurant & Music Hall
Friday, Feb 1, 2013
8pm doors, 9pm show; $12 ADV, $15 DOS; All Ages
743 Haywood Rd. Asheville, NC 28806
For more about John Driskell Hopkins and Daylight, visit www.JohnDriskellHopkins.com.