Darrell’s musical career has always been guided mostly by just plain old good luck!!
When he reached the 5th grade, he wanted to join the band that was then available in school. But Darrell’s family didn’t have a lot of money, and what little they had was shared between Darrell and his 5 siblings. He asked the band director what instrument was available for the least money. The band director knew of an inexpensive clarinet available, so Darrell went home and asked his father for the clarinet. His father replied, “I don’t want that squeaky thing around the house!” So, he went back to the band director a second time, and this time was told of a cheap trumpet. “Too loud!”, his father replied. These responses were very unusual from his dad, who was always very supportive of Darrell’s education and hobbies. His father likely felt bad about denying him twice. So, when Darrell approached with the director’s third recommendation … the trombone … it was no surprise when his father agreed.
Darrell did well on the trombone and had some amazing band directors through middle school and high school, so he decided he would major in music. But “good luck” came along again, and he was offered a full scholarship to Southern Methodist University if he majored in engineering … an opportunity he could not turn down. He asked only one question, “Can I take music electives?”
His move to engineering suited him well, and opened all kinds of opportunities he might not have had as a music major. His co-op position at Xerox Corporation during his school years provided the income he needed to take trombone lessons from the principal trombonist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. And he continued to play trombone with various bands in the Dallas, TX area … where he remained following his education at SMU. One of those opportunities was a move to Japan to work on a major engineering project that ended up taking 18 months to complete. This could have made musical connections much more difficult to find; but as luck would have it, the engineering company he went to work with just happened to have a company jazz band, and they needed a lead trombone player. Even better … some of the other players in that band had connections to the wider jazz community around the country. So, Darrell’s hobby remained strong, with the side effect that his Japanese language skills also improved, because many of the musicians he worked with did not speak English.
When he returned from Japan, he hardly had time to unpack before he was offered a job with the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in California. With his ties to Dallas already weakened, it was an easy decision. And it came with even more good luck … this is where he met his wife, Annie! And one of the PARC scientists he worked with was a trumpet player with connections in the musical theater scene in the Bay Area. This opened the door for Darrell to perform in the pit orchestra for many musical theater productions during his 10-year stay in the Bay Area.
His move to the Atlanta area was more good luck. He had already moved on from PARC to a different engineering company by that time, and the new company ended up going bankrupt. So another company with an engineering center in Atlanta bought out that company and offered Darrell a chance to continue his same job in Atlanta. But Darrell wasn’t anxious to leave the Bay Area, and he turned them down twice. But each time they sweetened the deal, eventually making him an offer he could not refuse.
Even before he set foot in Atlanta for the first time, he was already using the Internet to find networking opportunities here .. and he managed to hit the ground running. As with all the doors lady luck has opened for Darrell … he has no regrets about this move. He has played with quite a few bands here and found a lot of work in the church music scene.