Darren Kolbe, born and raised in central Texas, a bona-fide Texas Aggie (1983 graduate), well-known Ft. Worth Stockyards singing sensation during the 90's, and currently living and writing in Laredo, Texas (where?)....the "newest" singer/songwriter? Well, lets just say that Darren only knows how to do things one way - and that's the right way. It just took him a little extra time to get it just like he wanted it.
Welcome to darrenkolbe.com, the home of Texas' most exciting newcomer on the Texas original music scene. Darren has just released his second CD project "L.A. Ettouffee", soon to be critically acclaimed all across Texas. People will definitely ask, "Where has this guy been?", once hearing this project. I think you will agree that his voice and songs tell a compelling story...like only a real Texan can tell!
Darren Kolbe was born in Houston, Texas in 1961 and lived virtually all of his childhood in La Grange, Texas. He started playing music when he was 8 years old, and immediately fell in love with country and bluegrass music at an early age, playing guitar and banjo. He didn't really pursue a music career until well after graduating from Texas A&M University (College Station, TX) in 1983 and moving to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. It wasn't until the late 80's that Darren noticed a distinctive resonance in his voice that wasn't there before. He garnered enough courage to enter a few talent contests and was quickly discovered by local bands. After a few years of singing live venues, he formed his own cover band "Darren Kolbe and Texas Tradition" and was a mainstay in the Ft. Worth stockyards until the late 90's.
Though being introduced to music at an early age, it was not until the 90's that Darren really "discovered" music. It was then that he started listening to music from the songwriter's perspective, instead of the singer's perspective. He quickly started identifying with his favorite old songs in a new way. From a personal perspective, maybe the loss of his father in 1992, who was his biggest music supporter, helped spur this revelation. Lloyd Kolbe, a well-known south Texas wildlife consultant and personality, disappeared in Baja California, Mexico that year while on a helicopter survey and was never found. "He called me in Dallas on his way out of town for that trip", Kolbe says, "and we talked about life and he gave me advice. It was almost like he knew we would never speak again. I've always considered that conversation an omen, and it changed me".
He even fell in love with the Texas movement happening at that time through songwriting legends Robert Earl Keen, Guy Clark and others. "If I had to pinpoint one artist that really turned me on to songwriting, it would have to be Robert Earl", Darren says. "I was blown away by his ability to potray his life experiences and to potray Texas, as I saw it, through song". Darren immediately developed a passion for songwriting, and spent the late 90's focusing on writing and less on performing. "I decided that I had to figure out a way to be original or I would lose interest in music quickly", he says. "The most difficult part was developing a music style that fit me", Kolbe said, instead of just jumping into the Texas movement or even the dance hall shuffle music style that he and his band were acclaimed for through the 90's. What developed is a style that is a blend of all of Darren's influences; part traditional, part progressive, and even contemporary. "Its so hard to stay true to your roots when trying to create something original, and something that fits your vocal style", he says. "I mean, your never going to beat Price, Haggard, Gosdin or Whitley (Keith) songs...my vocal heroes. On the other end, I'm definitely not a Keen, Guy Clark style either. But, these were my influences. Its been hard finding me in there somewhere". Many believe he found himself somewhere between George Strait and Keith Whitley, a pure vocal style that is his own.
In 2000, Kolbe retreated to Laredo, Texas with his family seeking a "life-change", in his words. "We (my family and I) really needed a change, really needed to see things in a different perspective. I wasn't ready to bring my songs out, though many of them had been written by then. I needed more time to reflect on many things, not just where I was in music", Kolbe says. "But", he adds, "last year (2002) it just clicked. I found Steve Palousek (his Belton, Texas based producer) and he helped me bring these songs to life. "Steve and I both matured a lot during the very short time period between "All Roads Lead" (his first project)and "L.A. Ettouffee", Kolbe cites, "and I think it shows".
Check out the artist's website:
1. If Anybody Knows
2. Fort Worth Rules
3. Thoughts Of You
4. Ciudad Acuna
5. L.A. Ettouffee
6. Ana Maria
7. Blind Rider's Ballad
8. Where An Angel Falls
10. A Single Rose