Support the Steve Sutton Memorial Concert & Fundraiser
Friday, May 10 at 7:30pm @ The Colonial Theatre in Canton, NC
Can't Attend? You can still donate to the Steve Sutton Charitable Trust!
Proceeds go to Tuscola Scholarship and IBMA Trust Fund


  • GHS Strings
  • Metcalfe Mandolins
  • Dogwood Straps & Designs
  • Musicians Belt
  • Folk Heritage Committee

Darren Nicholson is a musician based in Western North Carolina.

He is a Grammy Award Nominee and a recipient of 5 International Bluegrass Music Association's Awards. Including Entertainer of the Year (2014), Song of the Year (2011), and Album of the Year (2006). He has appeared countless times on WSM's Grand Ole Opry, at the Ryman Auditorium, CMT, GAC and many of the world's most famous venues and networks. Currently, he records and tours as a full-time, founding member of Balsam Range with all sorts of collaborative efforts each year.

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.


  • Grammy Nomination (2006)
  • Countless performances on the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, and CMA FanFest
  • Countless National TV Appearances GAC, CMT, ESPN, Charlie Chase Show, Nashville Now, Song of the Mountain
  • Tour with Merle Haggard
  • 2014 IBMA Entertainer of the Year Award Recipient (Balsam Range)
  • 2014 IBMA Vocal Group of the Year Award Recipient (Balsam Range)
  • 2013 IBMA Album of the Year Award Recipient Papertown (Balsam Range)
  • 2011 IBMA Song the Year Award Recipient Trains I Missed (Balsam Range)
  • 2006 IBMA Album of the Year Award Recipient Celebration of Life (Alecia Nugent)
  • 2004 IBMA Emerging Artist Nominee - Alecia Nugent Band
  • 2005 IBMA Emerging Artist Nominee - Alecia Nugent Band
  • 2010 IBMA Emerging Artist Nominee - Balsam Range
  • 2011 IBMA Emerging Artist Nominee - Balsam Range
  • 2011 IBMA Album of the Year Nominee - Balsam Range
  • 2011 IBMA Album of the Year Nominee - All-Star Jam: Live at Graves Mountain

  • Toured as part of the Zac Brown Band’s Southern Ground Music Tour. Including a collaborative album with John Driskell Hopkins of the Zac Brown Band, featuring special guests, Zac Brown, Jerry Douglas, and Joey+Rory
  • Performed on dozens of national #1 songs and albums including: Crowe Brothers/Brother In Harmony, Cindy Mae, Country Boy Rock and Roll, Last Train to Kitty Hawk, Caney Fork River, Gonna Be Movin’, Trains I Missed, I Could Do You Some Good.
  • Given “keys to the city” in Canton, NC where Balsam Range was honored with an official declaration of “Balsam Range Day” in their home county for positive contributions to our community.
  • Voted Best Old-Time/Bluegrass Band of 2012 in Asheville’s Mountain Xpress (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
  • First band to ever perform at the NASCAR Hall of Fame (with Balsam Range)
  • JBovier Acoustic Stringed instruments produce the Darren Nicholson Model mandolin E28093 A5-X.
  • GHS Strings produce the custom Darren Nicholson Mandolin String.
  • Proud to say, through partipcation with Bands, Festivals, Fundraisers, etc. well over a half-million dollars for various regional, national, and international charities has been raised.

Recorded and/or performed in concert with:

  • Zac Brown
  • Levi Lowry
  • John Driskell Hopkins
  • Coy Bowles
  • John Anderson
  • Vince Gill
  • Merle Haggard
  • John Corabi (Motley Crue)
  • George Jones
  • Earl Scruggs
  • Grand Ole Opry Staff Band
  • Joe Gibbs (NASCAR/NFL)
  • Phil Vassar
  • Travis Tritt
  • Joe Diffie
  • Marty Raybon (Shenandoah)
  • Marty Stuart
  • Bobby Osborne
  • Rebecca Lynn Howard
  • Alecia Nugent
  • Sam Bush
  • Tony Rice
  • 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
  • Jerry Douglas
  • Casey Drieessen
  • John Wiggins
  • David Holt
  • Steve Thomas
  • Joey + Rory
  • 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

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
  • 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)

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 CDs will be in heavy rotation on your player for a long time to 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."
    - 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 Jimi Hendrix of Mandolin!"
    - J. Massie (Fan)

Instruments and Accessories

    I have 3 mandolins that I play regularly. I have a Gibson F5-G that was made in 2001. Steve Sutton purchased itfor 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 first played on the Grand Ole Opry andhave used for most of my traveling and recording. It has been further personalized with a great "Truss Rod Cover", created by Ed Weber.

    I am currently playing a custom, handcrafted Meltcalfe Mandolin made by Rick Metcalfe in Morganton, NC. It’s incredible. You will not find a better sound, look, and quality anywhere else!

    I also have a JBovier mandolin that I have been playing recently and I love it! 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. It has all the features I wanted in a mandolin. For years, I had wanted an A-style. It has a solid black face, dull-satin finish, and a sunburst showcasing the beautiful maple on the back. The fingerboard has a very slight radius. It has a very nice, unique tone and is one of the prettiest instruments I have ever seen.

    Both of the mandolins have a James Tailpiece, a tone guard, and Baggs electronics. Danny Bishop and Jack Dillen have exclusively done the repair and maintenance for my instruments the past several years.

    I use Wegen picks. Since early 2008, I have also been using Blue Chip Picks. I exclusively use GHS mandolin strings, playing a 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.

    David Schenck from Dogwood Designs created the strap for my F-Style out of Deer and Buffalo hide. It's amazingly comfortable.

    First Quality, Elderly Instruments, Blue Ridge Music, and Strains of Music have taken care of the rest of my musical supplies and needs. I owe a huge thanks to all these folks!

    Peter Wilkerson is an awesome banjo player. You have to play with him sometime for a wild time!