Tahoe dreamin’

Singer-songwriter Darin Talbot makes happy songs about love, life and snow

Don’t ask Darin Talbot to choose between his snowboard and his guitar.

Don’t ask Darin Talbot to choose between his snowboard and his guitar.

Darin Talbot will play at Heavenly Delicacies in Incline Village, 1pm April 4; at Freddie’s Roost in Sparks, 6pm April 4-5, 12.

Darin Talbot believes that angst and misery shouldn’t rule rock ‘n’ roll. His musical career, in fact, saw its birth at the standup comedy open mic. He traces his music back to a dream he had in the early ‘90s, at a time when he was living in Tahoe and performing comedy at coffeehouses.

“I’d been having these kinds of dreams of literally running from something,” Talbot says. “It literally made me fall down—like, ‘What in the world is this?’ “

It turned out to be the inspiration for a tune Talbot called “Scary Man.” Talbot, who hadn’t learned to play a musical instrument, kept the melody and lyrics for “Scary Man” in his head. That song kicked off an inner concert—about 30 songs came to Talbot within a week’s time. Talbot figured he’d better learn to play guitar.

“From the point I got my first guitar, I was obsessed.”

The 30-something’s languid, folk-tinged pop about love and snow sports has earned him the tag “Tahoe’s Troubadour.” “Tweeker Shred Master,” a song from his first album, Music Flight, reads like Willie Nelson’s “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” recast as a wayward snowboarder’s tale: “At eighteen years he packed his cares in a bag filled with snowboard gear/Told his mama oh please don’t cry I’ll be back by the end of the year/His mama looked with them droopy eyes and asked old Tweeker why must you go/And Tweeker looked with the sweetest smile and said mama there’s Utah snow.” Talbot’s upbeat voice even hints at a lilting country twang.

“I’m sort of Tahoe’s singer guy,” Talbot admits. In fact, his third album, Snow Day, due out next month on his label, Air Tahoe Records (www.airtahoerecords.com), is “the ultimate snow album,” with snow-related sounds tucked between songs. There’s the sound of snow boots stomping through fresh snow and the “dunt dunt dunt” of a chair lift. Talbot concedes that being “the Tahoe singer” could narrow his geographical appeal, but he stresses that his albums speak to nature lovers in various locales. He brings up Jimmy Buffet, one of his favorite musicians.

“He’s not necessarily talking about Key West. He’s talking about beaches and cocktails. Snowboards and snow—it’s really about the sports, it’s really about the lifestyle, it’s really about snow.”

Talbot says his albums are also about making people happy, about making good music without “having this huge band with a devil image,” though he adds that he “admires all music.”

“I’ve always been this guy who was full of ideas,” Talbot says. “I feel like I have been given this God-given gift.”

Talbot says he’s a bad verbal communicator, but it’s easy for him to express emotions through music. Playing live, Talbot is anything but stolid—whether playing one of his originals or a Cat Stevens cover, Talbot seems completely enveloped by song.

At Rapscallion Roadhouse Grill, at a Wednesday night performance, Talbot gives a heartfelt, stripped-down performance from his stool. But when it’s time to talk one-on-one, Talbot shifts gears and takes on the youthful enthusiasm of a boarder. In fact, with his close-cropped blonde locks and boyish good looks, Talbot almost looks like a teenager, like someone who’s stoked about whatever life has in store for him.

“I’m one of those people who believe in destiny," he says. "Things will work out how they’re supposed to be."