It's commonplace these days to find musicians described as transcending boundaries; to find one who really does it is more unusual, and to find two at the same time is rarer still. That is the only way, though, to describe Tim O'Brien and Darrell Scott. But how else can you characterize musicians who can write songs for the likes of Garth Brooks, top the Americana airplay chart, win the respect of bluegrass audiences and make albums that carry echoes of Celtic, reggae, blues, and rock'n'roll, all while recording with everyone from bluegrass patriarch Ralph Stanley to young country favorites like John Berry? If variety is the spice of musical life, then these two men are master chefs, and when they get together, the result is guaranteed to be a tasty stew indeed.
Tim O'Brien is widely known as a veteran roots music performer. With a background in bluegrass (his band, Hot Rize, won an International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainer of the Year award) and recordings ranging from three Americana chart-topping solo albums to acclaimed projects with his sister Mollie to work with Dwight Yoakam, Robert Earl Keen, Robin and Linda Williams, Jerry Douglas, Charlie Sizemore, Ralph Stanley and even a Top 10 duet with Kathy Mattea, Tim puts his mastery of acoustic instruments to work in a variety of settings that reflect his love for blues, calypso and other styles. His bluegrass singing earned him a 1993 Male Vocalist of the Year award from the IBMA, while his interpretation of Bob Dylan songs (1996's Red on Blonde) won him a Grammy nomination. As a vocalist and performer, Tim has an easy going manner that nevertheless has a streak of intensity running through it to guarantee that listeners will not only be entertained but moved.
Guitarist on "When No One's Around" - as well as albums by Suzy Bogguss, Sam Bush, Pam Tillis, Jenny Simpson and Guy Clark, with whom he also toured - and co-writer of its title track, Darrell Scott won acclaim with his first solo album entitled Aloha From Nashville. With musical training in the honky tonks of California and Alaska, and award-winning pedal steel guitar experience as well - Canada's Mercy Brothers won several Juno awards for songs he wrote during his tenure with them. The Kentucky native dropped out of the music field long enough to earn a poetry and literature degree in Boston, MA before giving in and moving to Nashville in 1992. Critics have compared his work to that of John Prine and Lyle Lovett and taken special note of his mastery of a variety of instruments - he plays guitar, dobro, banjo, mandolin and more. These same critics call his singing "versatile, expressive and just plain great," and they note his ability to "drift between the laces of mountain music or contemporary sounds without losing depth or influence over his listener."
With talents like that, it's not surprising that critics and, more importantly, audiences have been entranced when O'Brien and Scott team up on stage.