Meet Darren McMullen of Còig
DARREN MCMULLEN is a highly sought after multi-instrumentalist based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. His list of on-stage weapons includes mandolin, bouzouki, tenor banjo, whistles, guitar and bass.
Darren has been behind one instrument or another since the age of four – first a piano then a guitar then anything he could lay his hands on. His first regular gig was with the hugely popular Halifax band “The Cornerboys”. He chorded his way through the audition, told the band he was a trad music fanatic, got the gig, and swiftly went home to start teaching himself some trad music! Once he found the genre, there was no going back. One job rolled into the next as Darren learned new instruments along the way.
It was in the early days of his next band, “Hair of the Dog”, when Darren and the band’s fiddler Martin St.Maurice realized their common love of traditional instrumental music. In 2001, they recorded their album “Fingerboard Grooves” which went on to be nominated for an East Coast Music Award for the 2002 Instrumental Album of the Year. Hair of the Dog played relentlessly for the next three years; 2003 saw them play 207 shows. With the exit of the band’s lead singer, Hair of the Dog morphed into “The Gig Dogs” in 2004, and remains one of Halifax’s most celebrated pub acts.
2004 was a turning point for Darren. J.P. Cormier was in the market for a bass player, preferably a ‘utility guy’ who could move between several instruments in the run of a show. Not surprisingly, he took notice of Darren. Darren went on to hold a permanent position touring with J.P. for four years playing halls and festivals across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. During his time with J.P., Darren recorded his second album “Decade” in J.P.’s studio. It too went on to receive an ECMA nomination for the 2010 Instrumental Album of the Year.
Since then, Darren has been busy touring and performing with a wide range of bands including the Colin Grant Band, Pogey, Dave Gunning, Matt Andersen, Bruce Guthro, Matt Minglewood, David Francey, Gillian Boucher, Troy MacGillivray, Andrea Beaton, Rachel Davis, Anna Ludlow, and Chrissy Crowley. In the fall of 2010, Darren was hired by The Rankins for their 22 date Acoustic Tour, and again in 2012 for 14 more Canadian dates.
In the spring of 2011, Darren hit the studio to record a new album. Armed with his truckload of instruments, and calling on some good friends to join him. Instruments include Guitar, Mandolin, Mandola, Bouzouki, Electric and Upright Bass, Cello, Whistles, and Banjo. Guests include Matt Andersen, Colin Grant, Jason MacDonald, Rachel Davis, Jason Roach, and Dave Gunning, who also co-produced, engineered, and mixed the project. "Shoes for Molly" was released at the Celtic Colours International Festival on Cape Breton Island, October 2011.
Over the years, Darren had filled in for a few side players with David Francey, and in 2012 David brought him along to help arrange and record his record "So Say We All" in Almonte, Ontario. This came with a full time position in the band as well, for summer festivals and a Canada/USA tour. This process was repeated again in 2015 for David's record "Empty Train" Plans are already in the works for another recording in 2017.
These days, (since 2013), Darren's main focus has been with the band Còig. Originally formed as a one-off promotional show for Celtic Colours Festival, the members continued to play together whenever they could. Eventually they were asked to play at festivals around the world, and so they got a name, got some material together and hit the studio. 2014 was a banner year for them, with the release of the record, and subsequent tours. The debut album, "Five" went on to win Nova Scotia Music Association, East Coast Music Association, and Canadian Folk Music Association Awards.
2015/2016 have been busy years! From producing new records for folks like Buddy MacDonald, 2 stints in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee as part of the "festival of nations" at Dollywood theme park, being hired as a session musician for other artists records, and all the Còig touring, the biggest part of the job seems to be organizing the calendar.
Darren’s tour schedule, both as a soloist, guest musician, and member of Còig, continues to keep him on the road. Check out the 'Tour Dates' tab to see where Darren will be playing.