Lori & the Darlings

Cultivating Fans & Making Waves Mixing Original & Popular Material with an Eclectic Range of Musical Sensibilities

    icon Mar 16, 2023
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Having established the REVIEW’s annual Music Awards Celebration for nearly four decades now, one of the categories I enjoy keeping a close eye upon is that of Best New Artist.

Considering how the quantity of venues & bars featuring live entertainment has shrunk noticeably from the number populating the region 20-years ago, it’s a persistent concern whether crops of unique & first-rate talents will be as plentiful from future generations as they were from prior ones, especially with the competition so tight for new artists to get their music heard when many of the live venues in the region focus primarily on showcasing veteran and established acts.

Fortunately, year-after-year, the crop of new names and artists appearing during the nomination round of our Awards Ceremony never disappoints; and considering how 25 new artists were nominated this year with only 5 making it to the final round, the cream as a general rule usually does rise to the top of this particular category.   

Indeed, winners that first surfaced to secure this honor from previous years include such then unknown names as Barbarossa Brothers, Sprout & the Orange, MIZNXN, and Greta Van Fleet, to name but a few.  So each year prior to the Awards Celebration, I like to survey all the new names that appear, count how many different divisions they made it to the finals in, and then shed a broader light upon their endeavors by getting up close & personal so their fans and the general public can have a better sense of what they’re about.

I first caught Lori & the Darlings perform live back in September at the Willew Lounge in Bay City. In addition to the Best New Artist nomination, the group was also nominated in 20 other divisions in this year’s polling, including Best New Album/CD Release, Best Video, Best Variety Band, Best Original Band, and several individual categories spanning multiple genres.

This energetic and focused posse of eclectic musical marauders is fronted by vocalist & songwriter Lori Keisler, guitarist Roger Marchbanks, drummer Eric DiAigle, and respected veteran bassist Sean Drysdale (formerly with The Banana Convention and currently also with The CDF Band).

The group has been traveling from their newly established base in Detroit and proving themselves to be one of the hardest working bands on the regional circuit. Performing a strong mix of original material as well as popular songs spanning a range that moves from Bluesy Indie-Rock to Folk and Americana, in addition to the fans they’ve been accumulating through their live gigs, the group has also gained traction on all the popular streaming platforms with their debut EP Gratitude (Side A) and videos for their singles In Time and Chocolate Covered Blueberries.

When asked how their individual talents came together to form this new musical collective, Eric starts out with a simple synopsis. “Roger and I have been playing together since we were 16-years old and we were in our first band together and were really bad. In fact, he got kicked out because he was so bad.” “In my defense, I was an 18-year old guitarist who was told they had to play bass in that band,” adds Roger. “I didn’t know how to do a drop-C so I put a capo on the bass and that move earned my walking papers,” he laughs.  

“Around 2006 that band broke up, I tried out for Lori’s band in Tawas and that’s how we met,” continues Eric. “I lived in Seattle for a while and played in a Metal Band, but then Lori said she had a bunch of songs she  wanted to record and asked if I wanted to go for it. I said if I do it, I wanna do the thing - really take it seriously and do a serious push. Roger came back and signed on and it all fell together when we met Sean through a mutual friend”

When asked how her own passion and interest in music got started, Lori says music has been with her through her entire life. “My Dad was a musician and had pianos and guitars all over our house,” she reflects. “He encouraged me to use them.  My Mom didn’t have that interest, but I sure did.  My Dad didn’t believe in music lessons and taught me a little, but I picked most of it up myself.  It was a learning process. I was about five-years old when I picked up my first guitar.”

I’ve written a lot of songs I would like to record,” she continues. “ I’ve probably written about 43 to 46 songs  and we’ve recorded 12 of them so far,” she smiles. ”I usually come in with my guitar and play the guys the melody and lyrics, but pretty much let them do their thing when it comes to fleshing the song out. They know what they’re doing.”

When asked if any particular artists influenced her musical sensibilities, Lori references several. “The Beatles influenced me a lot as a kid, and I also listened to Madonna and Lionel Richie. My Dad was anti-80’s music, so I was limited at what I could absorb at home.  I could listen to The Commodores but my Dad wouldn’t let me listed to Lionel Richie because he thought he was cheesy, so I would get these records and CD’s shipped to my Grandma’s house of music I liked.  I like a lot of older music from the 1960s and 1970s, and I also love Big Band and Folk music.”

“As for singers, when I was really young I loved Linda Ronstadt and Whitney Houston and Janis Joplin.  If you throw in Ella Fitzgerald you have four of my favorite vocalists.”

Although Lori & the Darlings have only been together about 18-months now and three of the members moved to Detroit to eke out a bigger footprint in the musical battlefield, they’ve experienced a remarkable reception here in the Great Lakes Bay Region. 

“There’s a lot of places to play down there, but it’s difficult to break in,” notes Roger. “Eric and I have a lot of friends playing in bands down there, and a lot of the same bands are playing the same shows, so we are working at breaking into that scene.  We’ve had a lot more luck up here for some reason, but we’ve also been playing here longer. We’re still breaking in downstate, but it’s amazing how much great stuff comes out of the tri-city area.”

When asked what they feel distinguishes their sound, Lori references their divergent tastes. “I can’t speak for Sean, because his musical background is different from mine; but feel that’s our strength - our music comes together, but from very different places. It’s not like a a group of classic Rock ‘n Roll lovers all came together and said, ‘That’s our sound’.  It’s all these different influences - heavy stuff, folky stuff, and jazzy stuff from Sean all coming together.”

“It’s like throwing a hand of wild cards on the table,” states Sean in agreement. “We all have a wide variety of stuff to draw upon to create a different pool to play in, but each of our pools are all pretty big.”

Future plans for the band include getting booked into more festivals, recording more originals, and getting those songs heard on Spotify.  “Nowadays, you don’t sell a million records anymore, you sell one record a million times to different people,” states Eric. “If we get an audience in a room we know how to entertain them, but getting them to our Spotify page is tricky.”

“We try to build our following through a sense of community rather than competition,” concludes Roger. “We embrace other bands and even produce a ‘Thankful Thursday’ where we’ll pick a band once a week and make a video about them and why we love and care about them so much. That way it erases the competition and creates more alliances and group-billings for shows with other bands we can create.”

“It’s so much easier to get support through honey simply by telling friends what you love about them, and then getting that love in return.”

To check out more of Lori & the Darlings watch their videos on YouTube and their music is available on Bandcamp for download.

You can also check out their videos here: 

"In Time" - YouTube

"Chocolate Covered Blueberries" - YouTube

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