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Israel Darling: Samson The Mason

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From their just-released album Dinosaur Bones and Mechanical Hands (Engine Room Recordings)

Feeling trapped and isolated is a way of life in Western North Carolina. Its small towns foster unique coming-of-age experiences for adolescents growing up there, and Jacob Darden is no exception. Darden was born in the small, Appalachian town of Drexel and spent the first 20 years of his life in the former milltown that has become the main influence of the songs he writes for his band, Israel Darling.

Darden began playing music at a young age, and it became his escape. His father often played blues and Appalachian folk records in the house and Darden felt an immediate connection. Darden’s father had a part-time job as a guitar-maker, and would bring the young boy to meet his musician friends. These local bluesmen would eventually make major impact on Darden’s songwriting. “Hanging out with the older musicians in Drexel really influenced me,” says Darden. “It was so great to just hang out in the same room with people that I’ll probably never even be able to play as well as.”

Dinosaur Bones and Mechanical Hands Darden recorded a number of tracks along with friend Isaac Crouch, for what would become Israel Darling’s debut record, Dinosaur Bones and Mechanical Hands. Crouch stopped playing music in favor of an academic life and Jacob banded together with a group of local musicians including Mat Masterson (slide guitar), who went to high school with Jacob, and Alex Dagenhart (synth) who grew up one county over from Drexel. Masterson and Dagenhart were living in Greensboro, NC along with Arlie Huffman (drums) and Jeff Bechtel (bass). Darden followed their lead and left Drexel for the more artist-friendly Greensboro in February 2009.

The new lineup of Israel Darling signed to NYC’s Engine Room Recordings and “Dinosaur Bones and Mechanical Hands” is set for a summer 2009 release. A summer tour will ensure that Israel Darling will soon be escaping the ever encroaching hills of Western North Carolina.

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