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Musician from New Hartford performs on ‘The Tonight Show’

Carly Stone
Staff writer
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Posted 1/7/23

A musician from the Mohawk Valley officially has bragging rights after performing on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

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Musician from New Hartford performs on ‘The Tonight Show’


NEW HARTFORD — A musician from the Mohawk Valley officially has bragging rights after performing on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the same show that’s hosted major celebrity performers like Ariana Grande, Charlie Puth, and Jennifer Lopez.

Darryl Rahn, 28, took the stage during an episode of “The Tonight Show” aired on Wednesday, Jan. 4, as part of the show’s segment titled “Battle of the Instant Songwriters.”

The segment’s premise is that before the show, two audience members are picked “who said they were musicians,” Fallon explained, and each are given a made up song title and an hour to write an original song based on that title.

Rahn, originally from New Hartford, and his competitor Zaniah, from Louisville, Kentucky, faced off to perform the best original song.

Rahn introduced himself on the show as being from Utica, to which Fallon responded, “Utica, oh my gosh, I love Utica.”

Rahn’s assigned title was “2023 (Go to the Gym for Me).” He took the stage with a guitar and shared a short comedic medley about the aspiration to go to the gym in the new year but how ultimately, that will never be achieved (not with the temptation of mac and cheese, anyway, as his lyrics joke.)

“Woke up New Year’s day / looked down at my phone/ at all the pretty people / gettin’ ripped and gettin’ toned / I was filled with inspiration / then I turned on my TV / it’s 2023 / go to the gym for me,” the song begins.

He then goes on to list all the reasons why he won’t be making it to the gym. “The membership’s expensive / plus it’s way too far to walk / and picking up my clothes / technically counts as a squat.”

It continues, “but I think it’s amazing / that you’re doing pilates / it’s 2023 / go to the gym for me / why would I get on a treadmill / when I could simply sit still / just breathin in the steam of mac and cheese / maybe I will do a crunch in ‘24 / but it’s 2023 / so go to the gym for me.”

The audience laughed throughout the performance and gave Rahn a big round of applause at the end.

Rahn ended up “winning” the competition between him and Zaniah, based on the audience’s feedback, but both performers went home with an “I love music” sweatshirt, a Tonight Show notebook, and $1,000.

“Keep writing! Keep performing! Come back and be on the show one day again,” Fallon told both performers in encouragement.

Rahn grew up in New Hartford and is a graduate of the New Hartford Class of 2012. He started playing music at age 10 and played his first show with original music at age 15 in Clinton. He studied at Berklee College of Music and graduated from SUNY Purchase with a degree in music composition.

The now Brooklyn-based musician said it has been a surreal and rewarding experience being on the Tonight Show.

“I’m still wrapping my head around it,” Rahn shared.

The experience was particularly validating for his songwriting and his ability to perform, he said. “It made me feel like all the time I spend writing songs has not been pointless.”

He continued, “I’m also just grateful, because I have pretty bad anxiety, so I was really grateful that it went well, and that I didn’t lose it, and that I was able to power through. It just all didn’t seem real.”

He added, “The space itself feels like the clubs that I play, so the sound was pretty normal as far as live shows go, so I just looked at it as a live show for a second, and then that helped.”

As of the time this story was written, the performance has 26,672 views on the Tonight Show YouTube channel.

“I have a show tonight in Brooklyn, and that’s like almost going to sell out right now, which has never happened before,” Rahn shared Friday morning.

“I think [the show] helped a lot.”

Rahn has 10,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. His song “The Movie of Us” has nearly 68,000 streams.

To learn more about Rhan, find him on Facebook and Spotify.


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