Examining the many musical lives of Darrin Kobetich

Darrin Kobetich
Darrin Kobetich

The other day I was talking to music photographer John Erwin, and he asked me if I’d met Darrin Kobetich, a local guitar player. You will not find a more dedicated advocate for Funkytown musicians than Erwin, and he often gives me tips on good people to follow.

I’ve written about Kobetich in the past, but John reminded me that it’s been a few years since I’ve sat down with the guy or even saw him perform. Kobetich is one of Fort Worth’s best and brightest, but he wears so many hats he’s hard to pin down.

He’s a professional musician who often tours out of state. He’s a graphic artist (he used to be a staffer for the Star-Telegram). He’s a father, and most recently, a landscaper. He even teaches guitar lessons from time to time. So when I heard he was playing at the Grotto on Monday, I figured I could corner him and see what he’s been doing.

When I walked into the Grotto, the mighty Bruce Payne was on stage belting out Townes Van Zandt songs (as he’s known to do) and entertaining the thin crowd gathered around the stage. I sat down on a bar stool and enjoyed the show.

About three songs in, Kobetich walked by the end of the bar, and I was able to drag him off into the next room. Apparently, he just got back off the road.

“I went down to Terlingua and then I did Marfa, and then I had a few days to bounce around and see parts of New Mexico that I haven’t seen before. Ruidoso, White Sands and then I ended up in Santa Fe for a gig,” he said.

“Then I had to book it over to Oklahoma City for a gig last Friday. I’ve been trying to get out more. But I always seem to get pulled towards the west because I love the landscape.”

Kobetich is working on an Eastern tour soon, for a change of pace. In terms of music, the man, is eclectic — playing a variety of stringed instruments electric and acoustic, and a variety of styles ranging from Eastern to bluegrass, to rock and metal. He has a style all his own, and he never fails to amaze me.

Back home, Kobetich plays with several bands: Boxcar Bandits, Groom Lake Racers, Blackland River Devils, Arkestra with Eddie Dunlap, and Jeff Satterly’s band, the act that he was playing with at the Grotto on Monday. Although the pay isn’t as steady as a full-time gig, Kobetich is living the life he loves.

“My parents supported my music,” said Kobetich, “but they [still said ‘you need a job until you can get that going.’ After 24 years at the Star-Telegram – [I said] ‘When is this going to get going?’ Then they laid me off, and I’m like ‘Well, I guess it’s time to get it going.’ It feels good to be able to be doing that.”

“There’s a different set of stresses that goes with it,” he continued. “Thinking about it, it is pretty cool — but you still have to deal with life. You have problems like everybody else. I think it’s great … I know people a have been doing it for 20 years.

“It’s inspiring knowing people that are just going to do what ... they want to do. Yeah, you’re going to have to scrape by. When you go to school, they’re pounding into your head you have to be a part of the machine.”

We headed back into the main room at the Grotto, and I caught the first part of Satterly’s set. Satterly played acoustic guitar and sang, while Kobetich played a tasteful and refined electric guitar. Unfortunately, I had to leave early I didn’t get to hear all of the set, but you can bet I’ll be checking out these guys in full-band mode.