Local musician part of world record

Sarah Smellie
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Darren ”Boobie” Browne is back in St. John’s after a whirlwind tour of Europe. — Photo by Sarah Smellie/Special to the Telegram

In the past 12 months, St. John’s musician Darren (Boobie) Browne has ridden camels, played mandolin in Verona and set a musical world record.

“I’ve almost recovered,” he laughs.

Browne — “Boobie” was a term of endearment that his mother used, and his friends caught wind of — plays bass, guitar, mandolin and just about anything else you’d like him to play.

He’s played with Duane Andrews, Sherry Ryan, the Subtitles, John Lennox, the Forgotten Bouzouki, Al Tuck and the Newish Jewish Klezmer Ensemble.

Though he boasts near-legendary status as one of the city’s best musicians, he’s an affable, laid-back guy.

These days, Browne plays with The Burning Hell, who play an extensive European tour each year.

“I’m sure most bands would think we’re crazy,” he says. “Typical Canadian bands go over for two or three weeks, and then that’s it. But we go for two or three months and seriously play every night.”

This year, they set the world record for playing the most shows in the most countries in 24 hours. Beginning in Aachen, Germany, on July 6 at 7 p.m. and ending in Šmartno, Slovenia, 6:30 p.m. July 7, The Burning Hell played 10 shows in 10 countries in just under 24 hours.

“We actually had 17 minutes to spare,” he laughs.

“I knew we could do it, I was all for it,” he says.

“We have this amazing booking agent in Berlin, and he really knows how to plan things, so if it’s in his hands then it’s going to happen.”

The band played 30-minute shows in each country, and drove from place to place in a van. They’d pull up, run in with their instruments, play their songs, run back out to the van and peel away.

“They were all acoustic shows, we didn’t have time to mess around with gear,” he says.

“But we had a driver, so we got little naps in. There was a four- or five-hour-long drive between France and Switzerland, so that was a good nap.”

As veterans of the European tour circuit, The Burning Hell has a strong European following. So their fans at each stop on the tour were waiting to receive them, no matter what time they arrived.

“In 24 hours, obviously some shows are going to at odd hours,” he says.

“In Trogen, in the Swiss Alps, there’s this amazing bar called Viertel that we had played three or four times before. People had been there all night waiting for us to show up. We rolled in around 5:30 a.m. and the place went crazy. They had made us a hot breakfast and personalized T-shirts and care packages. A lot of places did that — people would chase after us with a round of beers and cookies for the band.”

The tour ended in a medieval castle in Slovenia.

“That last show was a total blast,” he says. “They had a four-course meal and wine waiting for us, and they made a two-day festival out of it.”

Though the tour was gruelling, Browne says it was definitely worth the sleep deprivation and the inevitable stench in the van.

“By the eighth or ninth show, it was a bit gruelling,” he says.

“But the end was in sight. And still, it was like, ‘Wow, I’m in Italy, playing a show outside, in Verona, where ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is based. And when it was done and we beat the record, well, I’m one of five people in the world to ever do this.”

He arrived back in St. John’s in time to play at the Folk Festival, and now he’s plotting his next move.

That will probably be to Morocco.

“Some old friends from Montreal that I used to play in bands with started doing this Top 40 circuit,” he says.

“They’d play hotels around the world, spending two months at a time at each hotel. So last winter, I played with them. I spent two months in Agadir and two months in Marrakech, living in these big, fancy hotels. It was a lot to take in, it’s a different world over there, but I’m over it now, and I’d love to go back.”

And after Morocco?

“Carnegie Hall,” he laughs. “One of these decades.”

A documentary about The Burning Hell’s world record-breaking European mini-tour will be released this fall. The documentary was made by French photographer Antoine Doyen and editor Cyrielle Thélot. Keep an eye on www.wearetheburninghell.com for announcements.

Organizations: Carnegie Hall

Geographic location: Verona, Slovenia, Aachen Germany Berlin France Switzerland Morocco Trogen Italy Montreal Agadir Marrakech

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  • Foley Huck
    September 01, 2012 - 15:10

    Another shout out from Beaconsfield/blue river alum. Darren has been honing his craft a long time...it's good to see he's rockin' the four corners of the globe. Atta boy Darren!

  • Janeatt
    August 31, 2012 - 07:44

    Hello Mr. Perks!! You're right, that is the same sweet shy Darren brown that we went to high school with at Beaconsfield. We were great friends back then, and it kinda makes me proud to see him profiled like this! Our paths still cross from time to time, and I smile big everytime they do!

    • Bill Perks
      August 31, 2012 - 14:42

      Hi Miss J Beaconsfield was pretty musical . A lot of great talent came out of that school.

  • Alex
    August 30, 2012 - 08:39

    Yes Bill,I'm sure it is the same Darren. He went to Beaconsfield as far as I can recall.

  • Bill perks
    August 30, 2012 - 07:07

    If this is the same Darren I knew at Beaconsfield High, he was a great player then.

  • Alex
    August 29, 2012 - 22:10

    Boobie is an amazing guitarist.Definitely one of the best around.I've had the pleasure of meeting him several times and he is very humble and just plays his heart out.

  • LAMB
    August 29, 2012 - 19:31

    The reason you haven't heard to him Donald Dooley is because he is one of the most humble guys you'll ever meet. And he's usually in the background letting others shine. BTW, what is it that you do besides troll around the internet looking to insult others? I"m guessing not much.

  • Chad Pelley
    August 29, 2012 - 09:49

    (He also plays in Pilot to Bombardier. Their album, Juliet on Fire keep Clear, is the best out of the province this year. See that too, Donny.)

  • Chad Pelley
    August 29, 2012 - 09:29

    Donny Dooley: You haven't heard of a lot of great stuff by the sound of it. Anyone with a finger on the pulse of the local music scene knows the guy, and the bands mentioned here, and anyone who plays the world over, or on as many albums as Boobie has, and plays as many instruments so fluently as Boobie is a local musician we should be happy to call ours. Instead of making some offhand, ill-informed comment like that. Buck up, man. And treat yourself to a Burning Hell, Subtitles, or Sherry Ryan Album.

  • Donny Dooley
    August 29, 2012 - 08:06

    He's so good I've never heard of him or the local bands he's played with! Legend in his own mind I s'pose.

    • P.
      August 29, 2012 - 08:56

      You are obviously completely disconnected from music in St. John's and NL at large. Boobie rules, one of the best guitarist to ever come out of NL, just google his resume you small town/minded meanie