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Darren Garvey is a multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, producer, and cross-pollinator best known for his work as a drummer and percussionist with a wide variety of artists.  He is currently working on his sophomore solo record and touring with Elephant Revival on percussion.  Darren appears on 2016 album releases by Canyon Spells, Miles Nielsen & The Rusted Hearts, Chicago Farmer, J. Hardin, and AM Taxi.

The Latest

SEP 2016 : Fall-Into-Winter-Endeavors 

As of this week I've officially finished half of my solo record.  The portion that I recorded in Wisconsin has now been mixed by my "team" of engineers from Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Neenah (Marty, Mark, and Patrick respectively) at Honeytone.  I recently did some tracking on the other half in Colorado and hope to finish in Chicago.  Let's call this a late-fall-into-winter endeavor.  The important thing to note is that progress is being made and (I'm gonna go out on a limb here) it's safe to say that my sophomore release Heart Attack Sleeves will be available during the 2017 calendar year.

Lots of other studio projects happening concurrently, one of which is Chicago Farmer's new full-length record Midwest Side Stories to be released on 9/30.  I have also added a bunch of live dates with Elephant Revival.  I'll be with the band for the next couple of months in the Midwest and South/Southeast.  Hope to see you out and about, these guys are a ton of fun to make music with!

Photo by Tara Gracer

Fall dates with Elephant Revival

9/16 Big Top Chautauqua : Bayfield WI
9/17 Festival Palomino : Minneapolis MN
9/18 Door Community Auditorium : Fish Creek WI
9/21 The Ark : Ann Arbor MI
9/22 Hi-Fi : Indianapolis IN
9/23 Majestic Theatre : Madison WI
9/24 Folk & Roots Festival : St Louis MO
9/25 MidPoint Music Festival : Cincinnati OH
10/1 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass : San Francisco CA
10/5 Cat's Cradle : Carrboro NC
10/6 Mercy Lounge : Nashville TN
10/7 New Mountain Amphitheater : Asheville NC
10/8 Visulite Theatre : Charlotte NC
10/9 The Festy Experience : Arrington VA
10/12 Georgia Theatre : Athens GA
10/13 Terminal West : Atlanta GA
10/14 WorkPlay Theatre : Birmingham AL
10/15 Hillberry Music Festival : Eureka Springs AR
10/19 The Kessler Theater : Dallas TX
10/20 The Heights Theater : Houston TX
10/21 Scoot Inn : Austin TX
10/22 Scoot Inn : Austin TX

JUL 2016 : Festival Season 

Here are two great articles to consider this festival season. Fans, musicians, and vendors alike need to be aware of the environmental impact of touring bands and festivals. I worked Lollapalooza last year with Graham Elliot and got to see the underbelly of the food vending at a huge fest. Maybe there's a better way?  Energy-efficient venues, carpooling, water re-fill stations, reusable beer pints...

Concerts Create A Huge Amount Of Waste - The Huffington Post
Sustainable Concerts : People & The Planet - Pollstar

 "According to Pollstar, a concert industry trade magazine, the top 100 tours in 2015 sold an estimated 60 million plastic water bottles (the equivalent of 48,000 barrels of oil) while 130 million paper goods (about 160,000 trees) were used."

JUN 2016 : Underage Dancing 

It's been a great run with Canyon Spells this month and last in the Midwest and out East.  Some highlights include a Daytrotter Session and show at the new Daytrotter compound in Davenport, IA.  Thanks Sean, Mike, and Andrew for a fun couple of days.  Everyone thought there was a 19+ age restriction on shows, but because my daughter drove 2 hours to the venue the DT folks looked into it more closely.  It turns out their beautiful new venue is all-ages because of some loophole and so my daughter was the first under-19-show-goer at Daytrotter...she's a trailblazer!

We also played Codfish Hollow, opened for my old bandmates Cory Chisel and Adriel Denae at the Meyer Theatre in Green Bay, WI and made our way out to New York for a great couple of shows.  As touring winds down for Canyon Spells, the band is getting right back into recording mode for most of the remainder of 2016 and I'll be joining back up with Elephant Revival for some dates this fall.

MAY 2016 : Red Rocks With Elephant Revival 

I had the pleasure of joining Elephant Revival for a few shows this month including their first time headlining Red Rocks.  This was the one venue that I've wanted to play above all others and getting to perform there with old friends made it truly special.  After sitting in on Midwest shows at Turner Hall (Milwaukee 5/11) and Concord Hall (Chicago 5/13) the band invited me out to Colorado to take part in this monumental event as part of Red Rocks' 75th Anniversary season.  The production included elaborate costumes and props, fire dancers, aerialists, and an amazing billing with Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band and Rising Appalachia.  A night not to be forgotten, I'm excited about the possibility of making more music with Elephant Revival down the road.

B/W photos by Lisa Siciliano (Dog Daze Photo).  Color photo by Evan Semon (Hey Reverb).


APR 2016 : Heavy Metal 

Miles Nielsen & The Rusted Hearts' third album Heavy Metal is out April 29th.  It was inspiring to watch the evolution of this record from the band's writing sessions in Michigan to tracking in Lexington, KY and Rockford, IL with producer Duane Lundy.  Additionally, it was an honor once again to join the Rusted Hearts in bringing Miles' songwriting to life.

All of these guys have been a huge influence on the Midwest music scene for the last decade-plus; making their studio and home base The Midwest Sound exactly that.  I've had the pleasure of working not only with Nielsen's Rusted Hearts, but with Miles, guitarist/producer Dan McMahon, and talented multi-instrumentalist Adam Plamann in projects such as Cameron McGill & What Army, Daniel and the Lion, and Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons.

Heavy Metal is such a great progression for this band of veterans and Miles once again found a way to top his previous songs and recordings.  I joined the band in November to perform the entire record for the first time in public.  Otherwise many of these songs have remained behind the curtain.  I encourage you to check it out however you digest music these days and keep an ear out for our Daytrotter session recorded in March.

This is my family and Rockford is my home away from home.  MNRH will be on tour for the rest of their lives or at least pretty heavily this spring and summer:  http://www.milesnielsen.com/tour/.  I'll be joining them in June for the Two Brothers Summer Festival in Aurora, IL with Cold War Kids and Phox.  You and me, Cane and Ebel, put it in your calendar.

4/28 UPDATE: Premiere full album stream at Popdose:  http://popdose.com/miles-nielsen-rusted-hearts-heavy-metal/

MAR 2016 : Songs About Cell Phones 

Under A Common Ceiling was released six years ago today on March 30, 2010.  I was also introduced to both shingles and pneumonia as twenty-ten went down in the books as a seriously busy travel year.  Two-hundred-plus shows between myself, Andreas Kapsalis Trio, Cameron McGill & What Army, and Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons took a toll on my body along with news of a handful of unexpected deaths in my circle.  Suffice to say, I never gave enough attention to supporting the release that I had hoped.

It's a funny thing putting out a record that you write and play all (most) of the instruments on.  It takes an absurd amount of time to pull off as a sideman, and because of the many pauses between sessions, it's very easy to over analyze each step of the process.  As advice to friends of mine working on their first album I've always said to just make sure you finish it.  The first mountain is a tough one to climb.  Ok...so this is coming from someone who doesn't have a proper follow-up record quite yet, but it's well under way.

I wrote Under A Common Ceiling as advice for the struggle with technology and loneliness.  Composed primarily in the mid-aughts, the grasp of social networking had only just begun to exploit our desire for validity.  The theme is based upon the idea that the more we engage in social exchanges online the lonelier we actually are.  The irony is in our desire to dress up reality in our social feeds as over-sharing might actually spotlight lonesomeness above all else.

At its most basic level it's a record about cell phones.  The song Happy Accidents is made up of field recordings I did with my trusty mobile.  It consists of solo piano versions of most of the other tracks on the record as a drug-induced, reverb-drenched reprise.  It includes various truck reverse alarms and horns, the crowd at a basketball game, phone distortion/interference, and a drip coffee maker recorded through the shoddy cell phone recording technology available to me at the time.

The phrase "common ceiling" was borrowed from Jack Kerouac's poem Mexican Loneliness as part of the sky imagery abound that starts with the album art.  I always thought this was a great way to describe the sky, the ceiling we all live below, everyone striving for a similar path and outcome regardless of our differences.  Additionally, the lyric about living "loose and natural" was advice from my old friend Shab and borrowed from Osho's book Only One Sky.  Our common ceiling, only one sky; it is both escape and release, yet the conduit of our 1s and 0s, home to our cell towers, the beginning and end of every day.

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FEB 2016 : Now That We're Canyon Spells 

Daniel and the Lion is transitioning.  We've released a handful of records where I went from hired drummer (Sweet Teeth) to producer (Death Head) and eventually jumped behind the kit for live shows.  This year marks a new chapter with a new label and new members and so the band moves forward under a new name: Canyon Spells.

We recorded Canyon Spells debut Now That We're Gone at I.V. Lab Studios in Chicago with producer Brian Deck and it's scheduled for release on March 4.  Having played drums & percussion as well as some guitars & bass on the record, I'm thrilled to be playing this material out and about this spring and summer.

Join us for the release celebration in Nashville on March 4 and the following week in NYC.  Full spring/summer tour dates to be announced soon.  In the meantime you can preview the songs Magic, Dark Matter, and Fat Stacks as well as our live video of Safe Here:

MAGIC - The Daily Listening "Daily Discovery" 
DARK MATTER - No Country for New Nashville premiere stream
FAT STACKS - Ryan's Smashing Life

OCT 2015 : Insert Drummer Joke Here 

Return of the AK Trio

I played in the Andreas Kapsalis Trio from 2002-2010, but it was much more than that.  I booked our tours and I drove the van.  I helped mastermind our free-for-all gorilla marketing campaigns as we opened doors to insane places around the country: performances at unheard of locations like Arizona-experimental-desert-community Arcosanti and private events for artist Wayne Thiebaud in California.

In the same breath we performed at high schools, film festivals around the country, and were commissioned by Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame for live photoplay experiments.  Our film scores took us to Robert Redford’s private screening room at the Sundance Film Festival and the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival at Lincoln Center in NYC.

We were extremely fortunate to play these insane venues and made so many great friends across the country.  A ton of memories have been flooding back as the trio has reconnected and started practicing again for our reunion show in Chicago.  We are excited to announce our return to Tonic Room on Wed Nov 11.  This is both Andreas’ and my birthday and should be a night to remember.  I sincerely hope you are able to join us.

At it’s most basic level, the fact that we could play to ANY audience made this band really special.  We performed at clubs, jazz festivals, high schools, coffee houses, communes, rock venues, street performances, supper clubs, baseball games, breweries, theaters, amphitheaters…you get the idea.  Yet some of our favorite shows were the most intimate.  We were like a garage band with through-composed sophisticated compositions that crossed the lines of tango, circus, thrash, flamenco, and film soundtrack.

…and so of course, we would be labeled ‘world music’ because no one knew how to categorize us.

While not as apparent on our album recordings, the shows had infinite possibility.  We were known to throw instruments around on stage, conjure up feedback and play acoustic guitar with a fan, break into spontaneous break-dancing and running around the venue, using a violin bow on anything and everything, and we frequently performed group improvised soundtracks to silent films.

While this might all sound out of control, dynamics were our greatest weapon.  It turns out that you can get away with slamming a tambourine through your cymbal if the music takes you there and it immediately drops to a delicate accordion passage.  We invented new tricks constantly.  It’s basically three percussionists interweaving thoughtful composition and improvisation while walking the line between a deep reverence for the seriousness of the craft and a sense of humor.

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AUG 2015 : Drums Or Just Cheese 

The world keeps getting smaller as bands come and go and reconvene on the Chicago scene.  It's been fun watching Matthew SantosHey Champ, and Gemini Club collaborate on their new project MONAKR.  I caught their debut performance at Schubas and expect great things from these guys.  I also saw Cameron McGill's final solo performance at The Hideout before moving to Idaho for adventures in academia.  His songs still cut like a knife and it was so great to hear him sing the tunes we toured on for five years as What Army.  I expect amazing things from Cameron down the road as well, be it written works, poetry or song.  Both Cameron and MONAKR have recored here at I.V. Lab Studios...check out the Reverb.com Recording Tricks video I joined Brian Deck on below.

We did the basic tracking on the upcoming Canyon Spells (formerly Daniel and the Lion) record and I contributed drums, acoustic guitar, bass and percussion.  Mixing happens soon!!  Other new records?  There are a few in the works, but the most recent release is Dickie's debut (ex-Chicago veteran songwriter Dick Prall).  I started as co-producer on this record with Daniel McMahon and played a handful of instruments.  The additional production ended up in the hands of Dick when he moved to Iowa and the record turned out great!  Listen to 'Satellites' on my Discography page.

Speaking of Iowa, have you heard Barry Phipps new record The Town?  I worked with Barry on a wide variety of projects through the years out of his North Branch Studios on Goose Island and have been involved with a few of the releases on his Tight Ship Records before he hopped the Mississippi for the Hawkeye State.  The Town is his first solo record and I'm happy to be playing some upcoming shows with Barry and the band.

Other fun shows I've been a part of since we last spoke?  I was thrilled to do another run with Sandra Bernhard at City Winery Chicago.  I sat in with the ever-funky Bumpus at Lincoln Hall for another MCA Day to celebrate Adam Yauch and the Beastie Boys.  I also jumped on The Outlaw Roadshow in Nashville and met some amazing people as always.  Have you been out for this yet??  You should consider it, I'm hoping to make the NYC Roadshow in October.  I'm also thinking we should bring the train to Chicago...still working on that...Ryan??

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FEB 2015 : Highscraper on Outlaw Radio 

My friends at Outlaw Roadshow Radio were gracious enough to play my new project Highscraper this past Saturday.  Broadcasting out of Cambridge on WEMF, Ryan Spaulding puts on a great two-hour show every week full of new music, special guests and whiskey!  How cool is that?  This particular episode (2/7) had Frank Germano of Man on Fire Design who is Creative Director of all things Outlaw Roadshow.  You'll recognize his work on the Outlaw posters, shirts, and promotions as well as everything from Fender Guitars custom shop, and the front of my bass drum from summer tour.

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October 2016


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