EXPERIENCE & AUDIO
I'm James Darn - The Darn Good Session Musician.
I've played in a wide range of musical ensembles from jazz groups, orchestras, rock bands and function outfits. I started playing drums when I was 14, went professional at 24 and now I'm in my mid 30's. I'm currently based in Watford, UK and am always looking for new playing opportunities.
Please see below for some of the recordings / video footage or just a few of the projects that I've been involved with.
The Darn Funk Orchestra - Jazz funk
This is a project that I head up. I do the horn arranging, songwriting, gig organization, singing and kit playing! I like to tinker with progressive ideas in this band but I have to try to keep it simple because of the vision of the project. It’s been a journey and we have an album CD that has been signed. Here's a link to the DFO section of this website and a few videos.
Recitals / Studies
Studying at Drum Tech certainly was a thorough training experience for learning to play live and tight but I was also blessed to study music and theology at the London School of Theology. I always recommend one to one tuition as the drum lessons I had there with Tom Hooper certainly helped me find and tweak my less developed areas. You can watch some of my recital pieces here.
Soft Red Explosion - Progressive / psychedelic rock 2008
This was a really fun project of collective music writing. We played quite a few festivals and the main gigging venues around Cambridgeshire. Unfortunately we didn't get around to making any decent recordings but these MP3's can give you some idea. I enjoyed mixing experimental ideas with dub, reggae and fusion grooves, plus a little funk!
Gospel / Gospel choirs
I have played drums or bass in my fair share of gigs with gospel choirs including for Tina Brookes, the Whittlesford Community Choir, the Beth Lee African gospel choir and more. The most stressful gospel choir gig has to be whilst studying at LST for Steve Thompson. You’ll see me on kit with him here sweating my face off!
The Get-Up Forward
Live funk-rock. This very early incarnation of the Darn Funk Orchestra played at many wedding receptions, night clubs, student bars and festivals. This was the first project where I tried singing from the kits but fortunately we had another singer as well. We played originals and covers such and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lenny Kravitz and James Brown. However, the thing that really got the crowd going was our live improvised psychedelic funk.
House Band member – The Cambridge Jazz-Funk Jam
What a privilege. Every fortnight for three years rubbing shoulders with some of the very best musicians, learning a massive repertoire of jazz and funk standards, pushing musical quality boundaries, being paid for it, getting gigs through it and then opening it up for a jam! The only downside is that most of this was before the smoking ban was enforced in the UK so I probably inhaled a lot of second hand fumes…
Getting out my guitar and plugging it into a loop station has always been more of a hobby than something serious. None the less I have often found my self being booked for cafes and small stages at festivals. Most recently this has been with the Ministry of Music agency when the venues couldn’t afford the band but wanted me to play my songs anyway! However, I love doing it ad incorporating a variation of styles into my repertoire.
This is a lot less glamorous than it sounds. I’ve gigs where I get the call and had just a few sleepless days and nights to learn entire sets. I’ve done this on bass or drums. With the kit I am a proficient reader so I usually find it easier to write a chart for this but I have often played from memory. Here’s some links to a few bands that I’ve depped for.
Swagger (Click link below)
The Beards (Click link below)
Orchestral / Musical / Military
I have enjoyed a variety of different jobs that have involved a conductor, sight reading and lots of sweating. The gigs I have done here have included the Cambridge University Brass Band, The Cambridge Brass Band, Musicals with the Cambridge University Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Military bands, Orchestral religious events etc. My orchestral experience started playing double bass in the school orchestra, which is a great starting point for anyone wanting to play live. I thoroughly recommend it. Unfortunately, with the business of these gigs the idea of videoing them is far fetched but here’s a link to me playing in parade with the Northwood Military Band (in front of the head of the navy!) I’m the drummer nearest the camera that does the drum solo!
The Walk - Blues - 1998- 2005
This was where I got to refine my skills before I studied at Drum Tech by playing with some older chaps. We played on BBC live festival radio and did quite a few gigs such a wedding receptions, folk clubs and festival stages covered in haybails
This was my early 20’s touring band experience pre studies. Again no videos but I enjoyed being involved in the songwriting with influences of Oasis, Beatles, Smiths and some thrashy punky drumming. Not very tidy but very fun!