While we like to think all the performers that appear on these pages present a blast of fresh air, Darlingside is exceptional.
All four members met at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., having sung together in one of the schoola€™s eight a cappella groups, the Octet, and at different times having taken the same songwriting course given by the esteemed Bernice Lewis. Don began performing at open mics at the boarding school he attended for high school and wrote songs with his roommate (remarkably, the song a€?Drowning Elvisa€? had its inception here). Harris Paseltiner was born in Evanston, Ill., and grew up in nearby Glencoe, north of Chicago, near Lake Michigan.
With once-a-week cello recitals starting at age 6, Harris developed a stage presence early. His father became interested in a cappella singing when Dave was in middle school and early high school, so he also got into it.
The formation of Darlingside was an evolutionary process that saw other talented student friends at Williams playing for awhile in different formats. While a€?Blow the House Downa€? stood out as a favorite early on, as I listened to each song on EP 1 (2010) and Pilot Machines (2012) for analysis, it became harder and harder to favor any one song in particular. True to the banda€™s name, in a€?Good Man,a€? there are no easy phrases, no a€?darlingsa€? in here to describe the lingering addiction and loss of and separation from a difficult woman.
For this listener, the violin-cello intro in a€?Surrounda€? is the first full introduction on this album to Darlingsidea€™s particular sound.
In a€?The Catbird Seat,a€? an oft-requested song from Darlingsidea€™s fan base, therea€™s a gossamer poetry in the lyrics. The symbol of a drowning man in a€?Drowning Elvisa€? serves to create an image of someone left for dead after the crash and burn of a relationship. In Darlingsidea€™s debut effort, relationship dissolution gets a variety of innovative treatments a€” the group conducts a clinic on how to attack the subject melodically and lyrically from a number of angles. Darlingside collaborated with songwriter and gifted singer Heather Maloney to release the 2014 five-song EP Woodstock on Signature Sounds.
The banda€™s sound, combining contemporary folk, chamber music, a cappella and rock a€™na€™ roll, permeates the atmosphere with a charged, electric quality, like an approaching storm. There, at her urging, they were taught to a€?kill your darlings,a€? those lyrics that come too easily, are too facile or a€?clever,a€? that get in the way of the forward movement of the piece. At his mothera€™s urging, Auyona€™s classical training (Suzuki method) on the violin began at age 3. At Williams, his performing was confined to college events, occasionally solo and occasionally with friends.
Harris good-naturedly said that, counter to most stories we hear, he ran off the soccer field in kindergarten yelling, a€?Dad, can I take violin lessons?a€? His entire family a€” parents, a brother and a sister a€” were all music lovers. As he describes it: a€?I used to go to school early to play in a chamber orchestra, and then had a period of symphony orchestra each day. There was no stage fright issue getting up to play original songs with guitar at open mics in high school.


In high school, Dave was introduced to new music by friends a€” Dispatch, Guster, John Mayer, Pat McGee and generally softer alt rock stuff.
It has a cinematic feel to it, and opens the door for a savvy film-maker to use as part of a soundtrack (or at least the film credits outro) in a story about taking an unexpected path and looking for a second chance for redemption. That, and the combination of the delicacy of the melody and the deliberate hesitancy in the vocal phrasing carries with it the sensation of heartache. An a cappella intro with high, almost wailing oh-oh background choral effect leads into a rapid tremolo on electric guitar and a matching beat on snare drum.
Especially when further reflection sets in: only out of your lips could those words pull me out of my head.
For me, their version of the title track eclipses both versions originally heard by CSNY and Joni Mitchell. I believe theya€™ll continue to thrill audiences with their vibrant melodies, meaningful lyrics and killer chops a€” both singing and playing a€” for a long, long time.
Locked into air guitar, air fiddle, air harmony, listening to a€?Blow the House Downa€? from their full-length CD, Pilot Machines.
He received a fellowship to study music in Ireland, Brazil and Turkey in the 2007-08 school year and came away from his year abroad convinced that he could pursue music as a career.
There were Suzuki violin lessons early on for one or two years, which never took hold, and a few starter lessons in guitar at 13 to 14 years old.
Then after school it was solo practice, lessons and chamber music rehearsals and musicianship classes and recitals on the weekends.a€? He picked up the guitar in high school and began experimenting with songwriting. I was forced to be in a play in second grade and I had one line, which I delivered incorrectly.a€? Even at Williams, when he took the songwriting course (which had a performance element), he still dealt with stage fright any time he had to perform. Key members of the band got back together in 2009 and moved into a house just outside of Northampton. Dave Senft (performance anxiety conquered) takes most of the lead vocals and Don Mitchell steps in for key songs. Therea€™s a depth that elicits from me an astonished a€?Oh my God a€¦ are you serious?a€? again and again.
While there is cello accompaniment on this, ita€™s practically a stand-alone as an a cappella piece.
Davea€™s pleading lead vocal essentially performs a duet with the violin-cello combo and the voices of the others slide in behind him while backing handclaps effectively increase the listenera€™s pulse rate.
The steady, metronomic snare beat and driving electric guitar strum crank up my heart rate and provoke ecstasy. His mandolin playing (minimal before the trip) improved exponentially with exposure to the culture and musicians a€” and their musicianship a€” in those countries.
Don credits performing with Chorus Angelicus, a touring childrena€™s choir not connected with school, as his most intense and formative early experience.
Early on, he was drawn to the music in Disney movies (The little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, etc.) and the music of Elton John.


He didna€™t start getting over it until he began busking regularly in Boston and abroad, after college. Dona€™s lead vocal is softer and therea€™s a wonderful harmony blend on the passage pull me undera€¦ The sonorous cello creates a mournful, lament-like undercurrent. Having seen the band perform a€?Whippoorwilla€? live a couple of times, Ia€™m also partial to that track from the EP.
He played in numerous orchestras and his main interest was chamber music (he started in earnest at age 10), specifically piano trios (piano, violin and cello). His father helped him learn the lyrics to a€?Under the Seaa€? (from The Little Mermaid) so hea€™d be able to sing it more effectively. A long-practiced head-swiveling vigilance is the only thing that saves me from an express bus as it blows past me through the caution light at the 15th Street intersection. In high school, Auyon started to really enjoy vocal harmonies and the bands that used them. As he explains: a€?We fooled around with the idea of starting a band back in college, and then got serious about it in the fall of 2009. He took trumpet lessons in elementary and middle school, but drifted away from that (hardly having practiced to begin with, he says). Although ita€™s tempting to dissect every song, space is limited, so Ia€™ve just selected some particularly noteworthy pieces. AsA  he explains: a€?We fooled around with the idea of starting a band back in college, and then got serious about it in the fall of 2009.
While in high school, he took classes in music and performed in chorus, assemblies, plays and concerts. Other instruments a€” guitar, bass, percussion a€” were self-taught or learned from friends. For our first two years as band mates, all of us lived in a house together, and we took turns cooking meals for one another. He performed in symphonic orchestral performances in high school and sang in an a cappella group toward the end of high school.
He also participated in symphonic orchestral performances in high school and did a little bit of acting in college. This might explain his ease as frequent spokesperson (everyone takes turns) at Darlingside gigs.



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