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OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS
Written By: Vincent Paez
*Click images below to view larger versions.
OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS
Meet The Band author Vincent with Darin Engh & Bob Wilkinson of Opposite Directions.
OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS
Opposite Directions playing on the bay at Seacrets ca. 2001. photo by Brenda Golden
OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS
Set against a liquid gold sunset, Opposite Directions at Seacrets. photo by Brenda Golden
OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS
Opposite Directions in 2004.
OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS
2009
OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS
2011
OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS
From 2013, Darin & Bob often collaborated with Joe Smooth & Joe Mama.
This week’s Meet the Band interview comes to you from West Ocean City and the Harborside Bar and Grill, where Opposite Directions has been entertaining crowds on Sundays for years. Opposite Directions is a string duo, in which Darin Engh plays left-handed and Bob Wilkinson plays right-handed. Darin always stands on Bob’s right side, creating the effect that the stringed instruments point in opposite directions. The duo uses acoustic guitars, bass guitars, mandolins, banjos, harmonicas, and their well-trained vocals to bring American country, bluegrass and rock songs to the crowd. Musicians can also catch Darin at his music shop, Beach Music, in West Ocean City. I caught them before their 2:00 PM start time and asked them about their success.

Vincent: “What differentiates Opposite Directions from other bands?”
Darin: “When we first started, we just wanted to get as many gigs as possible. So, we played the kind of music that everyone knew and liked. And we loved it, but, over the years, we started to care more about keeping ourselves happy by playing songs that nobody else in this town plays.”

Vincent: “Are you referring to bluegrass?”
Darin: “Well, yes, there is some of that; but I cannot think of one band in town that plays a Todd Snider song. I’ll bet that no other band in town plays a Martin Sexton song. And that’s fine. The other bands are doing what makes them happy, and we now do what makes us happy. And, fortunately, we’ve been able to forge long-term relationships with people who have wanted to keep us busy and hire us.”

I spent the next several seconds wondering who the heck Todd Snider and Martin Sexton were and swore to myself that I would Google them after the interview. I focused and got back to the interview questions.

Vincent: “You mean people who have been hiring you for years like the Harborside?”
Darin: “And Seacrets, Fager’s and Coconuts. We’ve been very blessed. And we walk the line by playing the songs that keep people happy and then doing some other unique stuff. For example, I don’t think that there is another band that plays consistently in town with a mandolin player.”

Vincent: “I think that’s true. Bob, what would you say your biggest challenge is?”
Bob: “Biggest challenge? Hmmm…I guess I’ve never thought of things that way before. That’s a tough question. I mean, we get along so well, and we like what we do. Challenge?”
Darin: “Getting up in the morning – now that’s a challenge!” The server who was listening in on the interview burst into laughter.
Bob: “Well, I guess traffic. Traffic stinks, when you’re driving to gigs. And maybe finding the time to learn new songs is a challenge, because we’re so busy.”

Vincent: “Well, if those two things are your biggest challenges, then you’re doing alright. Now, the readers should know that you two are brothers-in-law.”
Darin: “Yep. Bob is married to my sister, Joanna.”

Vincent: “That must make your bond even stronger.”
Darin: “Yeah, it’s a unique one, which can help you get through the tough times too. A lot of times people look for a good excuse to move on and quit a band. But not us. Bob and I have been playing together for so long, and there is a lot of cool stuff that goes on between us on stage that the audience doesn’t even pick up on. For example, when I pick up here in a song or when Bob leads off there in a song is just natural for us after so many years.
Bob: “We’ve been together since 1986. We’re family. We play music together, we golf together, and we hang out together. Man, we’re blessed that we get to do this for a living!”

Vincent: “That’s beautiful, guys. So, do you have any other projects going on besides Opposite Directions?”
Darin: “For many years, I’ve been working with Nate Clendenen and other musicians on a bluegrass project called The Salt Water String Band. I have another project with Sean Loomis from Triangle Road and AJ Fox and Jesse Harman from the West King Street Band. We get together whenever they’re in town and call ourselves the String Buzzards.”
Bob: “And I have solo gigs, which I never did in the early days. I’m at Lighthouse Sound, South Gate Grill, and I also play at Coconuts with [sax man] Joe Smooth.”

Vincent: “Cool. Is there anything else that you would like the readers to know about Opposite Directions?”
Darin: “Well, first of all, they should know that the very first edition of The Coconut Times featured Opposite Directions, so that gives you an idea of how much history we have. And secondly, we hope everyone out there supports live music; we all count on the folks who come to see us.”

With that, the clock struck 2:00 PM, and Opposite Directions took the stage, while the crowd began to enjoy fresh seafood, orange crushes, a beautiful view of the harbor, and that great mandolin/guitar combination from two musicians, who are a natural fit for each other in music and in life.

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