Written by Michael Pittman
Jul 14, 2012 at 08:00 PM
ImageThis is one cat I’ve heard a lot about, but for one reason or other have never seen. I don’t really know why, but there it is. This time some friends asked me if I was going not just because they wanted to see Darden, but also to check out the new Music Café. I immediately said yes because this was a great time to check out the music of Darden Smith in the wonderful new Dosey Doe Music Café.

I can’t go on without raving about what I have come to believe is one of the best (if not THE best) sounding music venues I have ever had the pleasure of setting foot in.  Steve, Ken, Mike and the entire crew have taken the sum total of their collective experience at the Big Barn and put together a world class venue just about a half a mile west of I45 on  FM1488. The original Dosey Doe, newly dubbed the Big Barn is still in the same place in The Woodlands and still features the quality music and gourmet food as always. Nothing has changed there.

I’ve been going to the Big Barn for some time now as you probably well know and there is one thing I’ve noticed…it sounds better and better as time goes on. The entire structure is a transplanted 150 year old Kentucky barn and much of the original wood was used when it was reassembled in its current location in The Woodlands. Like a guitar sounds better as the wood ages, so does this building. Point being, as good as the new Music Café sounds with all the specialized acoustic treatments, it will only get better as time goes. The stage will season; the wood balconies and walls will age like fine wine and be the scene of just as many great shows and times as the original. Show times and schedules can be found at www.doseydoe.com. There is a link at the top of the page for the Music Café; click that for more. This is one place you have to check out…no excuses! Oh…and the nachos are as good as it gets. Little hungrier, get a gourmet burger…in a word awesome.

Ok, now that I’ve raved about the place I have to say I totally enjoyed Darden’s performance this night. This seasoned veteran is a proud native Texan who spent much of his childhood in the fields around Brenham, who came to Houston as a teenager and who moved to Austin (to go to UT..tongue in cheek) as a young man. His music is styled much like John Hiatt and Leonard Cohen while his influences are the likes of Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and most especially John Prine. His stage is now international with a dozen CDs to his credit and one more on the way.

Yet, tonight it was all down to earth Darden Smith, opening with Seven Wonders (http://soundcloud.com/darden-smith/seven-wonders-darden-smith) and into Sierra Diablo from the latest release titled Marathon. As the night played on, each song held a story but none as poignant as Angel Flight. Angel Flight is a co-write with Radney Foster and appears on Foster’s ‘Revival’ release. It’s become a theme song among veterans especially, but indeed among all of us in honor of the Air Force Angel Flights;  those special flights home for our fallen heroes. You could have heard a pin drop.

Guy Clark once said “We have no set list, we have no agenda and we have no fear”. Smith showed no fear tonight as he played without a set list and even took requests from the audience. Our table asked for something from Marathon, while others asked for various tunes. We were treated to some of the best of the best without a falter with ‘Stronger’, ‘2 Dollar Novel’ and ‘The Levee Song’.

When you see the Music Café stage, you’ll notice how there’s not a lot of room for the artist to disappear and build tension for the encore. Well, what the hell, we all know it’s coming so let’s just get on with it..right? Darden didn’t disappoint with ‘Perfect Moment’ and an extra special request for ‘A New Gospel’ from one of the children (His family was there) for which he came down into the audience.

For the 50 or 60 of us in the audience it was a modest night of memorable music by Darden Smith. He sometimes travels with a band and I’ll be looking forward to catching that show, but tonight it was a simple evening with good friends and a truly great artist in a one of a kind show.

Not too shabby, I’m glad I went.