Darren Nicholson


Darren Nicholson

Darren Nicholson is a musician based in Western North Carolina.

He is a Grammy Award Nominee and a recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s – Album of the Year award, and has appeared countless times on WSM’s Grand Ole Opry, at the Ryman Auditorium, and many of the world’s most famous venues.

He’s proud to have taken his blend of Country, Bluegrass, Americana to 49 states, as well as across Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, Jamaica, Haiti, Australia, and all over Europe.

To learn more about Darren Nicholson and his solo project, visit www.DarrenNicholson.net.


  • Grammy Nomination (2006)

  • Numerous performances on the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, and CMA MusicFest

  • Numerous National TV Appearances – GAC, CMT, ESPN, Charlie Chase Show, Nashville Now, Song of the Mountain

  • Tour with Merle Haggard

  • Tour and recordings with Zac Brown and Southern Ground

  • 2014 IBMA Entertainer of the Year (Balsam Range)

  • 2014 IBMA Vocal Group of the Year (Balsam Range)

  • 2013 IBMA Album on the Year (Papertown – Balsam Range)

  • 2011 Song of the Year (Trains I Missed – Balsam Range)

  • 2006 IBMA Album of the Year Award (Celebration of Life – Various Artists/Alecia Nugent)

  • 2004-2005 IBMA Emerging Artist Nominee – Alecia Nugent Band

  • 2010 IBMA Emerging Artist Nominee – Balsam Range

  • Performed for entire living cast of The Andy Griffith Show at Grand Ole Opry 2004

  • Bobby Osborne tribute concert performances with Alecia Nugent and Marty Stuart

  • Inducted into the NC Folk-Life Institute 2008

  • Performed on dozens of national #1 songs and albums including: Crowe Brothers/Balsam Range/Darren Nicholson/Kristy Cox

  • First band to ever perform at the NASCAR Hall of Fame (with Balsam Range)

  • JBovier Acoustic Stringed instruments produce the Darren Nicholson Model mandolin – A5-X

  • WNCW, the #1 flagship bluegrass station, voted Trains I Missed as #1 on their Top 50 Bluegrass CDs of 2010, and #5 on their top 100 overall from any genre (ahead of Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and Robert Plant).

  • 2012 Declaration of Balsam Range Day in Haywood County

Record and/or performed in concert with:

  • Vince Gill

  • Zac Brown Band

  • Merle Haggard

  • John Corabi (Motley Crue)

  • George Jones

  • Earl Scruggs

  • Grand Ole Opry Staff Band

  • Joe Gibbs (NASCAR/NFL)

  • John Driskell Hopkins

  • Phil Vassar

  • Travis Tritt

  • Joe Diffie

  • Steep Canyon Rangers

  • Marty Raybon (Shenandoah)

  • Marty Stuart

  • Bobby Osborne

  • Rebecca Lynn Howard

  • Alecia Nugent

  • Sam Bush

  • Tony Rice

  • Suzy Boggess

  • Charlie Daniels

  • Tom T. Hall

  • Doyle Lawson

  • Carl Jackson

  • Rhonda Vincent

  • Ralph Lewis

  • Jon Randall

  • Ronnie Bowman

  • Bryan Sutton

  • Russell Moore

  • Larry Cordle

  • Bobby Hicks

  • Roy Clark

  • Hoot Hester

  • Bradley Walker

  • Raymond Fairchild

  • Tommy White

  • Melvin Sloan Dancers

  • Sammy Shelor

  • The Infamous Stringdusters

  • Audie Blaylock and Redline

  • Claire Lynch

  • Don Wayne Reno

  • Hazel Creek

  • Crowe Brothers

  • The Inspirations

  • Harris Brothers

  • Katie Kerkhover

  • Little Roy Lewis

  • Karen Peck

  • The Sidemen

  • Rob Ikes

  • Randy Kohrs

  • Andy Hall

  • Andy Falco

  • The Primitive Quartet

  • Josh Williams

  • Sonya Isaacs

  • Steve Sutton

  • Jerry Salley

  • Aubrey Haynie

  • Jim Van Cleve

  • Jimmy Stewart

  • Michael Cleveland

  • Chris Warner

  • Steve Thomas

  • Chris Sharpe

  • Steve Lewis

  • …and many more, including a host of regional bands and artists


  • GHS Strings

  • JBovier Acoustic Stringed Instruments

  • WNCbluegrass.com

  • Folk Heritage Committee

  • MusiciansBelt.com

Years spent in different professional groups and former band members

  • Hazel Creek – Eddie Rose, Gary Allen, Bob Ginn, Mike Crowder, Steve Sutton, Bobby Hicks (3 Years)

  • Alecia Nugent Band – Alecia Nugent, Steve Sutton, Andy Falco, Andy Hall, Jennifer Strickland, Gena Britt, John Osborne, Josh Matheny, T.J. Osborne,

  • GUESTS: Carl Jackson, Aubrey Haynie, Jim Van Cleve, Ronnie Bowman, Jimmy Stewart, Michael Cleveland, Booie Beach, Mike Anglin, Alan Bartram, Rebecca Lynn Howard (3 Years)

  • Audie Blaylock and Redline – Audie Blaylock, Evan Ward, Patrick McAvinue, Barry Reed, Matt Wallace, Chris Warner (Dozens of Tours)

  • Darren Nicholson Band – Kevin Sluder, Richard Foulk, Steve Sutton, Griff Martin (4 Years)

  • The Crowe Brothers – Josh Crowe, Wayne Crowe, Steve Sutton, Daniel Grindstaff, Steve Thomas, Steve Lewis, George Buckner, Mike Faegan (2 Years)

  • Balsam Range (2007-current)

  • Darren Nicholson Band (2010-current)

  • John Driskell Hopkins (2012-current)

What They’re Saying

“Darren Nicholson is one of the finest young talents in bluegrass today and I’m extremely proud to be a part of his debut CD and his career.”
– Carl Jackson (Grammy Award Winning Musician and Producer)

“Darren Nicholson is one of the brightest young stars on the horizon…Great songs, great singing, and great music. His cd’s will be in heavy rotation on your player for a long time to come…it is in mine right now.”
– Larry Cordle (Legendary Country Songwriter and Bluegrass Icon)

“Darren Nicholson is a wonderfully talented bluegrass artist and check out his fan pages. Become a fan like us. DarrenNicholson.net”
– Indie Music Lounge

“Darren Nicholson is one of the finest talents in blue grass today. His outstanding performance along with the band’s was one of the main reason we were able to raise $30,000.00 to help provide health care for so many needy folks here in Henderson County. ”
– D. Durham (Entertainment/Benefit Coordinator Free Medical Clinics of Hendersonville)

“Darren Nicholson is the Jimmi Hendrix of Mandolin!”
– J. Massie (Fan)


  • Sweet Lowdown – Chasing The Sun(2014) – Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – Five(2014)- Mountain Home Records – Production, Vocals, Mandolin

  • Kristy Cox – Living For The Moment(2014) – Pisgah Ridge Records – Vocals, Mandolin

  • Darren Nicholson – Things Left Undone(2013) – Bearded Baby Records – Production, Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – Papertown(2012)- Mountain Home Records – Production, Vocals, Mandolin

  • Tim Gardner – Timmetry(2012) – Vocals

  • Ty Gilpin – Crooked Hollows(2012) – Guitar, Vocals

  • Sav Sankaran – Back To Bassics(2012) – Vocals

  • Balsam Range – Trains I Missed(2010)- Mountain Home Records – Production, Vocals, Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – A Mountain Home Christmas(2010)- Mountain Home Records – Production, Vocals, Mandolin

  • Graves Mountain All-Star Jam – Live Recording(2010)- Rural Rhythm Records – Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – WNCW Goin Across The Mountain Vol. 11(2008) – Independent – Vocals, Mandolin

  • Songs Of Jackson County – Self-titled(2009) – Independent – Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – Last Train To Kitty Hawk(2009)- Mountain Home Records – Production, Vocals, Mandolin, Mandola

  • The Crowe Brothers – Brothers N Harmony(2009) – Rural Rhythm Records – Mandolin

  • Seth Rhinehart – Self-titled(2009) – Bearded Baby Records – Production, Vocals, Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – IBMA Song Sampler(2008) – Independent – Mandolin

  • Tom Godleski – Fresh Preserves(2008) – Independent – Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – WNCW Goin Across The Mountain Vol. 5(2008) – Independent – Mandolin

  • Songs Of Haywood County – Self-titled(2008) – Independent – Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – Marching Home(2007) – Mountain Home Records – Vocals, Mandolin

  • Celebration Of Life – Musicians Against Childhood Cancer – Skaggs Family Records – Mandolin

  • Alecia Nugent – A Little Girl…A Big Four Lane(2006) – Rounder Records – Vocals

  • Darren Nicholson – Self-titled(2006)- Bearded Baby Records – Production, Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin

  • Larry Watson – Thoughts of Yesterday(2005) – Independent – Vocals, Mandolin

  • Hazel Creek – Hickory Wind(2003)- Independent- Production, Vocals, Mandolin

  • Hazel Creek – Blessed By The Past(2002) – Independent – Production, Vocals, Mandolin

  • Ila Knight – Friends and Family(2002) – Independent – Vocals

Instruments and Accessories

“I have two mandolins that I play regularly. I have a Gibson F5-G that Steve Sutton purchased for me when I first started playing the mandolin in about 2003. I had been playing about a year but it was my first legitimate working instrument and is still one of the best mandolins I have ever played. This mandolin means a lot to me personally; because it was also the one I played first on the Grand Ole Opry and most of my traveling and recording. Ed Weber created my great Truss Rod Cover. This mandolin was made in 2001. I also have had JBovier mandolins and Jeff Cowherd at JBovier was nice enough to build a mandolin specifically for me. After several talks and meetings we came up with the A5-X, which he called the Darren Nicholson Model. But I am currently playing at Metcalf Mandolin. Rick Metcalf is a master Luthier from Morganton NC. Danny Bishop and Jack Dillen have exclusively done the repair and maintenance for my instruments the past several years.

“Since early 2008, I have been using Blue Chip Picks. And I also use Wegen picks. And I exclusively use GHS mandolin strings. I switch back and forth between the silk series occasionally and the custom set I get from their custom shop. My custom set favors extra heavy E strings. GHS has a quality and tone that consistently withstands my heavy playing schedule (www.ghsstrings.com). David Schenck from Dogwood Designs and Kimberlie of Rulien’s Lost Mus created the straps I use. Strains of Music takes care of the rest of my musical supplies and needs. I owe a huge thanks to all these folks.”