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COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE WITH LOCAL TIES

 

Written by: Sheila Kilishek

 

Bobby Darren, an internationally known country music musician and singer will be inducted into the Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame on August 31st in LeMars, Iowa.

Born and raised in Kaukauna, he formed his first band (a duo) at the age of 11, with his nephew, Jeffrey Lee. These pint-sized musicians (who played on guitars "bigger than they are") made a name for themselves by performing songs by such artists as Hank Williams, Sr., and Ernest Tubb.

A few years later, Darren formed a three-piece group known as Bobby Darren and the Drifters. They travels many years performing together and were booked solidly throughout the Midwest.

In recent years, Darren changed the name to The Bobby Darren Country Show, featuring his niece, Sheila Marie, who's been with him 31 years.

Throughout the years, Darren has remained loyal to the "true" sound and image of classic country music, he cites Hank Williams, Sr and George Jones as his inspiration and he credits his older brother Danny Darren, (well known in the Milwaukee area for over 20 years) as one of his greatest influences.

Since 2006, he has been featured regularly in the television show, Midwest Country (aired on the RFD channel, out of Branson, MO).

Darren says it's been in his blood since he was born. He credits his talent to God along with his mother and father who encouraged him early on. 

Darren said when he leaves this world, he hopes it's while he's on stage, playing his beloved guitar, going out with a song.

The Bobby Darren Fan Club is hosting a celebration to commemorate Darren's Hall of Fame induction. It will take place on Sunday, Sept 25 at Tryba's Simply Country Barn, N3504 County E, Freedom from 2 - 8 pm. Food fun, music and prizes. 

Website: bobbydarrencountrymusicshow.com

Youtube: Boobby Darren Country Music Show

DARREN TO BE INDUCTED INTO AMERICA'S OLD TIME COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME

By: Brian Roebke, Editor


  Bobby Darren got involved in music by thievery.

  Darren started in music when he snuck his mother's guitar away from her when he was about 5 years old, growing up in Kaukauna, WI.

That began a lifetime of music that results in him being inducted into America's Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame tonight on the main stage in LeMars, Iowa, during the festival of old-time music.

The event includes more than 500 performers playing on 10 stages.

Darren taught himself how to play that guitar, since his family performed way before he was born. He remembers breaking a string on that guitar and putting it back in the case, hoping his mother wouldn't notice. Of course she did notice but let him play because she knew he was interested in music.

Darren is known for being one of the few people in the world o play "upside down, backwards, left handed," playing a right-handed guitar.

He believes there's only three people in the worked who played like that, including the late Jimi Hendrix.

He also learned the mandolin, bass, dobro, fiddle, piano, steel guitar, all by himself.

Darren who graduated from Holy Cross School and Kaukauna High School, appreciated that music is in his blood and he got a lot of talent from God.

He ends every show with a gospel song, trying to get a message of morality to his audience "who didn't go to church last Sunday and won't go this Sunday."

Although not everyone in his family plays an instrument, they all sing. His older brother Danny was Bobby's idol when he was growing up, he hid underneath the kitchen table when he came home from Milwaukee in the middle of the night. Danny would pay the guitar and sing with his parents and Bobby just watched and listened.

"Later on we would take trips down to Milwaukee to see him perform because he was down there for 25, 30 years," Darren said. "I'd just watch where his fingers would go and watch what he was playing and listen to what he was playing and go home and try to remember that."

Other influences were Hank Williams Sr., Ernest Tubb, Lefty Friesell, Bill Anderson, and his mother, originally Margaret Derks, from Kaukauna.

After he started watching his brother, his mother told him he could do the same thing and should keep his boots shiny and hat clean.

His friends remember him playing some songs while sitting on the family's front porch or under a tree singing,"Folsom Prison Blues," since he practiced a lot, and was a local child star.

Darren remembers playing for neighborhood kids at Daryl Driessen's house. Their family was one of the few that had an electric garage door, and they would set up inside the garage before someone would hit the opener and the door would open for their show.

He started performing for the public on a Rawhide talent show, March of Dimes and Cerebral Palsy. His mother became his agent, so to speak.

He remembers seeing his brother play at Bertha's Oak Park Tavern in Pensaukee, where Bertha catered to the farmers because they didn't have a lot of money. Back in 1966, a bottle of Pabst beer sold for 15 cents.

Danny got his family to sing a couple songs and at age 11, he had his start.

Bertha later hired him to play for her birthday, his first paying job, when he started was $10 a night.

"That $10 filled up ma's gas tank, we still had enough to stop and get something to eat at a restaurant, and had enough money to make my amplifier payment to the First National Bank," he said. "And there was even a little bit left over."

He remembers Bertha picking him up like he was her own child.

"Mama" was a huge influence in Darren's life.

He started playing in Kaukauna at the Corner Bar on the top of the hill and later picked up more gigs in Kaukauna. Before long, he was playing "from one end to the other" on Broadway Street in Green Bay. "Green Bay was loaded with country music back then, so was Milwaukee," he said. "Now they're both pretty empty."

When he was 13 or 14 years old, he was making more money than his father did at the Thilmany Paper mill. "And he had to support 12 kids with that," Darren said, "Those were the days."

Recording his first album was the first exciting thing in his career but the highlight of his career was probably playing on the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville in 1997, after his mom passed away, when he was introduced to Jim Ed Brown. "Everyone wants to get on that stage," he said.

"It brought a lot of people down, we had a lot of bus tours, everyone went down to Nashville for that," he said.

His mother always told him to give the people what they want and do it the way it's supposed to be done. If he was asked to do something he didn't know, she wanted him to learn it and come back to do it. It's obvious his mother was a huge influence on his life, and that never left him.

"when our fans walk through the door we know just what they want and we give it to them," he said. 

There were a lot of changes over the 51 years he's performed, some good and some bad, and he's happy to have survived.

There were ties in the past few years when it seemed like everything was coming to an end because of the changes in country music. He doesn't like how country music has evolved, calling it "more pop than anything," feeling it ended around the end of the Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, and George Strait era.

He thinks the current popular country artists are capable of singing a good country song but the industry pushed them to what they became.

"We had our years and our time and now it's their time and it would have been nice if somebody would have kept the straight country," he said.

If he hears the right song, he gets motivated and pumped up and ready to "giver" again.

He open for Conway Twitty in 1978. He came to play at the Rainbow Gardens and heard him finish the opening with "Hello Daring," a song that was a big hit for Twitty.

"He shook his hand and he said," I'm glad i came out with that song before you did or I would have never had a No. 1 hit," Darren said. "That was a hell of a compliment."

That led to the big regret in his career, never pushing himself to make it big nationally.

"I pretty much covered the state," he said. "We didn't do much on the west side of the state but from north to south, we hit it all."

They started to play in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and one in awhile in Nashville.

"Now I wish we would have thought more about this instead of favoring everybody here." he said."Now that everybody's saw me since 2006 on RFD television, everybody from all over the country now wants me to come to their state," he said. "Why didn't I do this 30, 40 or 50 yrs ago."

RFD-TV us the nation;s first 24-hour television network featuring programming focused on the agribusiness, equine and the rural lifestyle, along with traditional country music and entertainment.

While Darren enjoyed working mechanics and manufacturing, music has pretty much been his job his entire life, "I was bound and determined music was the way for me," he said.

Years ago he could play six nights a week and twice on Saturday or Sunday and now he's lucky if he even gets to play the weekend.

He now has 26 CD's and three DVDs and "more to come."

COUNTRY MUSIC PERFORMER WITH LOCAL TIES, FANS INDUCTED INTO

'HALL OF FAME'

by Kathy Tobin, editor

 

After more than a half century of devotion to traditional country, bluegrass and gospel music, Wisconsin's own Bobby Darren will be inducted into the National Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame. The ceremony will take place at The National Old Time Music Festival Aug 31 in Le Mars, Iowa.

An internationally known performer, Darren has quite a following in the Tomahawk, Irma, Merrill areas, including Sandra Gano who recalls when he lived for a time in Merrill and played there. He has performed in Tomahawk, too, and he played at a Gano Anniversary party, she says.

Originally from Kaukauna, Darren was born into a musical family of 12 on Sept 9, 1954. He followed the footsteps of his parents, Ike and Marge Solberg, who played guitar and mandolin, and sang their way from the 1920s through the 1950s under the name "The Vagabonds." A brother Danny also is well know in the music world.

Bobby taught himself to play guitar at age 5 and started singing at age 7, with his nephew, Jeffrey Lee, he formed a duo at age 11. Their first paid gig was 51 years ago on Aug 8, 1965, in Pensaukee in Oconto County. As the story goes, another group, The Blue Water Drifters, was to perform that same night, but only found a very small audience. They asked where everyone was and are told that two little boys were down at Berth's playing on guitars that were bigger than they were, singing good ol' Hank Williams and Ernst Tubb songs. The Blue Water Drifters packed up for the night and headed over to hear the young musicians. One band member, Merle Knutson, and his wife Margie, becoming Darren's first "followers."

 At age 14, Darren fronted his own three-piece group known as Bobby Darren and the Drifters. They played throughout the Midwest. Darren started recording professionally in Nashville in the 1970s and continued to do so until 2000 when he built an in-home studio.

In later years, Darren changed the band's name to 'The Bobby Darren Country Show', and featured his niece, Sheila Marie. they've traveled together now for 31 years.

Citing musical influences like Hank William, Sr. and George Jones, Darren's talents range from sentimental ballads to honky-tonk tunes. A leftie, he's known as the "guy who plays guitar upside down and backwards." He also is fluent on the dobro, bass, fiddle and mandolin.

Darren has said traditional country music is like an art form that is slowly fading away with the death of legends like Merle Haggard, one of his favorites.

"Real country music, from back in the day, has a story line you can follow and a melody that stays with you and is uncomplicated," he says. 

Darren has said when he leaves this world he hopes it's while on stage, playing his beloved guitar - going out with a song.

SIX-DECADE CAREER LANDS DARREN IN HALL OF FAME

 

Written by David Nordby

 

"I don't think it hit me yet," classic country music singer Bobby Darren said, wearing his usual black attire and cowboy hat.

A career that has spanned six decades and brought worldwide travels will now include an induction into the National Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame on August 30th , in LeMars, IA.

Born into a family of 12 in kaukauna, Darren watched his parents Ike and Marge. Their career spanned from the 1920's to the 1950s and the family business didn't take long for Darren to grab onto.

"I used to sneak my mom's guitar until I broke a string," Darren recalled. He fittingly later wrote a  powerful song about it, and his family which brought tears to the eyes of many audience listening. 

"Everything was so strict back then," Darren said, "You didn't touch anything without asking," Darren couldn't resist the guitar though.

Darren was self-taught on the guitar and began singing when he was seven. His rule as a teacher was pretty simple: if something sounded good he kept doing it.

"If something doesn't sound right it just crinkles my bones, so thats how you know. There must be talent born in you evidently," Darren said. "We have a pretty sharp ear for music."

Darren plays the guitar much different than the regular performers and has become known as "the man who plays the guitar upside down and backwards."

Darren's a lefty and strums up, where most left-handed musicians change the strings. An inexperienced musical eye doesn't notice, but the people with musical knowledge are consistently in awe. 

"There's only three or four of us in the world that they know of that do it the way we do it," Darren said. One of the others who did it that way, Jimi Hendrix.

Darren started singing when he was seven years old and by the time he was nine, he was getting paid for leads. "Didn't have much of a childhood," Darren said.

A couple years later he formed a group with his nephew, Jeffrey. At age 14 he was the leading man for Bobby Darren and the Drifters. 

"Ten dollars a night. It went a longways back in the 60's," Darren said. He was able to fill his car with gas, get something to eat and make his bank payment.

Darren's recording career began in Nashville in 1978, and he hasn't looked back He's recorded 26 albums and produce them himself. Many of them were recorded in Nashville or Wisconsin studios, but now Darren has built his own studio in Kaukauna.

In addition to the producing, guitar and singing Darren plays bass, piano, drums and mandolin.

One of his great accomplishments is being frequently broadcast on RFD-TV, a cable channel aimed at rural America. "You know they're listening and watching so you've gotta be on your toes and then sometimes that can make you a little nervous," Darren admitted.

A concert in Minnesota was recently featured on RFD-TV with his niece, Sheila, who is a performer on stage with Darren. Sheila followed the family footsteps at an early age too, recording her first single when she was nine.

The television exposure-which also included a reoccurring news skit called "Where's Bobby Darren?" - is something Darren has never let go to his head. "Somehow ego is something I don't think I've ever gotten," Darren said. The television performances are just a representation of thousands and thousands performances Darren's had across the country.

Darren has a dedicated fan base, many of whom travel with Darren frequently, including the upcoming hall of fame induction Many of them have passed away but their younger family members have become fans.

"I've never stopped wanting to learn more different styles or new, contemporary stuff to keep everyone happy," Darren said.

It's a special relationship between Darren and his fans. His fan club is throwing a celebration for him where he'll perform at Tryba's Simply Country Barn in Freedom on Sept 25. He's played funerals as final requests and has had people tell him how much he's helped during tough times. "It's things like that that makes it a better accomplishment than any amount of money could," Darren said. In September, his oldest fan will celebrate her 92nd birthday and Darren will play for her.

Darren already has some funeral arrangements of his own too. Family, friends and fans can listen to classic country, have a whiskey or beer as they share stories and remember the music.

They only people Darren tries to stay more dedicated to than his fans are his family members. He has two sons, Bobby and Danny, and a daughter, Carrie. Bobby has followed in the family business of music, and performs classic country and Christian favorites. Above any musical accomplishment. Darren calls his children as the thing he's most proud of in his life. He also has eight grandchildren.

Darren's lifestyle brought him to live in many places, including Brillion. During a planned transitional living period, which included a home fire, Darren found himself in Brillion. He stayed for nearly a decade, which ended up being one of the longest tenured places he's lived.

"We had a lot of fun times," Darren said. Darren played at many restaurants and bars around town that no longer carry the same name but he carries fond memories. All three of his children grew up in Brillion and Danny still lives in town.

It doesn't seem like Darren would have time for anything outside of music but he does. In addition to his family time, Darren enjoys fishing and cooking. The fishing, he says, is the place he's able to forget everything. The cooking is another natural talent, Darren creates his masterpieces just like he learned music when he was a child. "I don't go by recipe and stuff, I just put it in as I go along and keep tasting it," Darren said. "I've made a lot of stomachs happy."

During his hall of fame speech, Darren will keep God first like he says he always does, and speak about people who've helped him along the way.

Even though Darren's already had a career longer than most, his appetite is still hungry for more music, even over other hobbies. "I plan on doing this until the day I die," Darren said. "I don't want to die a boat, I'd rather die on stage."

DARREN INDUCTED TO COUNTRY HALL OF FAME

 

Bobby Darren , great grandson of Joseph and Elizabeth Archambault of the Mayflower Farm, Peshtigo, an internationally known country music musician and singer will be inducted into the Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame on Aug 31 in LeMars, IA.

Following the footsteps of his parents, Ike and Marge Solberg, who performed classic country and old-time music under the name "The Vagabonds", Darren started singing and playing guitar at a young age.

He formed his first band a duo at the age of 11, with a nephew, Jeffrey Lee. Their first paid gig was 51 years ago on Aug 8, 1965 at Bertha's Oak Park Tavern in Pensaukee. On that same night, another group, "The Blue Water Drifters" were setting up their instruments for a performance. They noticed that it was strange there was hardly anyone there in attendance.

When they asked where everyone was, they were told "There's two little boys down at Bertha's playing on guitars, bigger than they are, singing good ole Hank Williams and Ernest Tubb songs." So the Blue Water Drifters packed up for the night and headed on over to hear these young musicians. Merle Knutson of Marinette, one of the BWD band members, and his wife Margie immediately took a liking to what they heard and became Darren's first "followers".

A few years later Darren formed a three-piece group known as Bobby Darren and the Drifters. They traveled many years performing together and are booked solid throughout the Midwest. Darren started to make professional recordings in the 1970s in Nashville, TN and continuedtot do so up until 2000, when he built his own in-home studio.

In later years, Darren changed the name to the Bobby Darren Country Show, featuring his niece, Sheila Marie, who's been with him for 31 years. Their family harmony and light-hearted banter appeal to audiences of all ages.

Throughout the years, Darren has remained loyal to the "true" sound and images of classic country music. Since 2006, he has been featured regularly on the TV show, Midwest Country aired on RFD channel out of Branson, MO.

Traditional, country music is almost like an art form  that's slowly fading with the death of so many legends, most recently Merle Haggard, a favorite of Darren's.

"What they label as 'country music' today is not defining anything-no story, no direction, no format, no true understanding - it doesn't 'turn heads' or catch 'the ear'," Darren says "Real country music, from back in the day, has a story line you can follow and a melody that stays with you and is uncomplicated."

Darren says it's been in his blood since he was born. He credits his talent to God along with his mother and father who encouraged him early on.

Darren said when he leaves this world, he hopes it's while he's on stage, playing his beloved guitar, going out with a song.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Mayflower Farm, Peshtigo was owned and operated for many years by Joseph and Elizabeth Archambault and their children. Bobby's father, Ike Solberg was born in Peshtigo and the farm was well known for honey and poultry.

Darren's parents names were Ike and Marge, the same as the names of the parents of Don and Phil the Everly Brothers. Darren's older brother Danny Darren was well known in the spotlight in the Milwaukee area for over 20 years, Bobby credits Danny as one of his greatest influences.

Jeffrey Lee, Darren's first band members is the oldest brother of Sheila Marie. Jeffrey's been playing bass and singing as a member of Danny's show for over 30 years.

Marge Knutson still attends some of Darren's shows and he will be performing  for Margie's 92 Birthday in September.

Darren sang, "Hello Darlin" web he opened a show for Conway Twitty in 1973 at the Rainbow Gardens in Appleton. Later, Conway came up to him, shook his hand and said, "I'm glad I can out with that song before you or I would not have had a #1 hit!"