Darby Mills and her Project

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I recently had the chance to sit down and chat with one of Canada’s most recognized female rockers of all time; the notes that she belts out of her pipes can’t be ignored and sends shivers up and down your spine. No, she wasn’t in the Soo, but I did sit down while we had a “phoner’ interview, so in my world that qualifies the first sentence.

In case you can’t match a song to a name/band or have been living on Nibiru (Planet X), Darbie Gurl was the backbone voice of the Headpins who had hit songs, Don’t It Make Ya Feel, Just One More Time, and Feel It (Feel My Body). The Pins first two albums ( Turn It Loud & Line of Fire) both rose to platinum status in Canada and put the kids on the map around the world.

Darby and the band toured Europe in the ’80s in support of Whitesnake and the US where they opened for Kiss, and ZZ Top who rumour has it asked that the Pins to stop doing encores as the band was overshadowing them on the tour. Subsequently, the band was removed from the bill as founding member Brian MacLeod and company didn’t take orders very well and kept doing the coming back out for a couple.

Darbywas  fired in 85 from Pins but retained her recording contract with mca USA. From there she went on to record 6 songs at Eel Pie which is Pete Townsend’s studio but at some point thereafter,  the A and R rep was fired and incoming and new A&R representative let Darby go and signed Tiffany.

Before briefing you on Darby’s new venture, Darby touched on the fact that she’s been in the business for about the last 40 years and there were many high’s and lows.

The highs were obviously the success she enjoyed in the “PINS” but the lows were the politics in the business. Before embarking on the new journey, Darby’s husband (Brian Wadsworth) who is her manager had a few heart to hearts and he asked her before she left the Headpins “are you ready to jump back into this sh*tshow of an industry….because you have to have a good team….which has become very apparent to me ….you can’t do it on your own….you can’t ….you have to have a really good team. I have been so lucky to have run into a handful of women who have supported me through this ….strangely enough it’s been women who have held me up when I ….you know have fallen to my knees with doubt and whatever else that strikes you when you are going against the tide….and you know there is going to be a shitload of backlash….but my husband has been great as well with getting me most of the shows in the past couple of years and he’s back with Feldman (agency) and hopefully we will get to team up with some really great acts this year”

The Darby Mills Project consists of Randy Gabel on guitar, Doug Rasmussen on keyboards, Dave Hopia on bass, and Chris Murray Driver on drums. Darby is set to head down to Vancouver in the coming weeks and get some rehearsal hours in before an upcoming set of shows which include at least three in Ontario with none other than the KiLLer DwaRFs.

Darby touched on the fact that she is very grateful to her band members as “it’s not like the 80’s where you could tour and make enough money….people now have mortgages and day jobs and families and not everyone can just pick up and leave…..you have to find someone who loves there craft or doesn’t have day jobs and works in like 8 bands (laughter)” I mentioned….”like Sean Kelly”…..who I will interview this month) and Darby said, “yeah, I don’t know anyone who works as hard as he does, but with my new band, I’m so appreciative…like how do they do it “?

When Darby floored me with the news of touring with the Dwarfs (as you know, they will entertain here in the Soo in the spring), I asked her what her setlist will be like. “well, it will be three parts, there will be one third HeadPins tunes for sure, some originals from the DMP the third part of the set list will be Darby singing, what she calls recoveries ; songs she grew up listening from bands such as Nazareth and the Allman Brothers.

What would Darby say is her singing style? “Well I consider myself a belter and I have a great like for the blues and consider my style bluesy when needs be”

What is Darby’s favourite TV show currently?  “I can’t wait for the new season of Grace and Frankie on Netflix..I really love Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in that series”

So there you have it, folks, Darby Mills is still rocking and making music. To relive a Canadian classic, click here

**Upcoming I will be interviewing one of Canada’s best and hardest working guitarists, Sean Kelly, and I am also waiting for a call from the one and only Carl Dixon of Coney Hatch fame.**

Coming soon to a Venue near you !!

Killer Dwarfs
Soo Blaster
April 27/ 8pm
$24.50

Ernest Skinner

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Ernest Skinner
Ernest Skinner was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie and attended Humber College after high school. He has a passion for other cultures and has travelled throughout Mexico and many South American countries. He has written many articles over the years that deal with events happening here in Sault Ste. Marie and around the globe. Ernest has interviewed many rock and roll musicians including, Garry Peterson (The Guess Who), David Ellefson (Megadeth), Sass Jordan, Lee Aaron, John Corabi (Motley Crue/Dead Daisies), Geoff Tate (Queensryche) Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest) etc. Reading about ancient civilizations, world politics, and mysteries of the unknown are also defining factors that are his general makeup. Outside of being serious, he has a bright sense of humour that was moulded from shows like Seinfeld & The Simpsons. Ernest is a SaultOnline.com freelance reporter/columnist.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I was djing a wedding in London, ON when I saw this rocker looking guy. The groom asked me if I’d ever heard ot the Killer Dwarfs. Being Canadian, I said of course. He then turned and said, well this is Russell Dwarf. And he was so gracious and kind and he stayed after the music was done and played guitar for the guests. A class act! And if you guys are wondering……oh yeah, he still has it, and then some!!

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