Darren Garvey is a multi-instrumentalist
and cross-pollinator best known for his work with
Daniel and the Lion
Andreas Kapsalis Trio
Cameron McGill & What Army
Miles Nielsen & The Rusted Hearts
Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons
As a seasoned drummer and percussionist out of Chicago with an obsession for writing and crafting songs, Darren Garvey continues to establish himself as a musical polymath, producer, and idiosyncratic songwriter with heavy-hearted lyrics and clever arrangements. With his band Elephant Revival exploring new paths on their recent hiatus, Darren is currently producing bandmate Daniel Rodriguez's debut solo record all the while challenging himself to post a new song every week in his ambitious 2018 Song Share.
Aside from guest appearances, Darren writes, arranges, produces, and performs every instrument on his solo recordings. His most recent release Heart Attack Sleeves (2018) was recorded in a turn-of-the-century victorian mansion in Neenah during the cold Wisconsin winter. Garvey was able to accomplish a very raw and real sound by choosing from minimal studio takes and avoiding a reliance on edits. No stranger to the recording studio, Darren has appeared on 100+ records and has worked on a dozen film scores. In 2010 he took time off the road to reinvent himself as a writer, producer, and music director for a commercial music house in Chicago that included the writing talents of Jimmie Linville (Canyon Spells, Daniel and the Lion) and Theo Katzman (Vulfpeck).
Born in Milwaukee in the late-70s, Darren was raised outside of Chicago where he played piano and guitar from an early age and led a handful of bands. Gravitating towards the drums in the mid-90s, Darren studied with Glenn Kotche (Wilco) whose musicality and percussive approach to the trap set inspired Darren to further his education. While attending The University of Illinois, he formed an experimental jazz/funk/bluegrass project with Noam Pikelny (Punch Brothers) and ultimately earned a degree in percussion performance and jazz studies. Darren's two-decades worth of touring have included performances at venues such as the Ryman Auditorium, Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Hearst Greek Theatre, and Germany's Rockpalast.
Darren Garvey lives with his wife and daughter in the foothills of the Rockies and is a member of Colorado's transcendental folk darlings Elephant Revival. Much of Darren's legacy can be found in the huge fingerprint that he left on the Midwest independent music scene with bands like Cameron McGill & What Army, Andreas Kapsalis Trio, Miles Nielsen & The Rusted Hearts, Daniel and the Lion, Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons, Ernie Hendrickson, Chicago Farmer, Paper Arrows, Algernon, Buddy Nuisance, Like Pioneers, and Michael Heaton among others.
Heart Attack Sleeves (2018)
Under A Common Ceiling (2010)
Debut full-length album
Miss Liberty (2017)
Thunder and Snow (2012)
Solo project with guest vocalist
Solo project with guest vocalist
Christmas in Chicago (2005)
Solo Christmas record
Darren's 2018 Song Share has him emptying his notebooks to share a new unreleased song each week. Some of these were written years ago and are being salvaged from forgotten pages….others have long existed half written and he's forcing himself to make the critical decisions to call them complete….and many will be all fresh ink.
This playlist contains all original instrumental compositions performed and produced by Darren Garvey. Garvey has produced a wide variety of original instrumentals for film and tv as well as a dozen film scores in collaboration with guitarist and composer Andreas Kapsalis.
As a producer, music director, and session musician in Chicago for two decades, Garvey has appeared on over 100 records. Darren's selected discography is below and this playlist samples some of his output.
Fly In A Jar
Bad Mixed Up Woman
Michelangelo's Blue Period
Why We Work
Nothing Can Tear It Apart
Fixing A Hole
Not Waitin' Around
The Revolving Door
Someone in Another Life (Schizo Blues)
Strangers To Fellini
Algernon Charlie Changed His Mind
Andreas Kapsalis Trio Original Scores / Self-titled / Bubblegum Enlightenment
Buddy Nuisance Messy Lives of All Shapes and Sizes
Cameron McGill & What Army Is A Beast / Madeline Every Girl / Deserters
Two Hits and A Miss / Warm Songs For Cold Shoulders
Canyon Spells Now That We're Gone
Chicago Farmer Midwest Side Stories / Backenforth, IL
Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons Minnesota Beatle Project Vol 2
Daniel and the Lion East / Borrowed Air / Death Head / Sweet Teeth
Darren Garvey Heart Attack Sleeves / Miss Liberty / Under A Common Ceiling
Emily Hurd Long Lost Ghosts
Ernie Hendrickson Down The Road
Great Divide Great Divide
Highscraper No Better No Better
Kings In Waiting Way
L'Altra Telepathic / Favorite Flavor
Like Pioneers Piecemeal
Lindsay Anderson If
Michaela Thomas Scandinavia
Mike Maimone Open Mic Nights, Empty Bottle Mornings
Miles Nielsen & The Rusted Hearts Heavy Metal / Presents The Rusted Hearts
Paper Arrows Good News For Love / Days of Getting By / In The Morning
Things We Would Rather Lose / Look Alive
Sarah Pray One May Morning
Thunder and Snow Solve
Todd Kessler and The New Folk Sea Fever
WHSPR Space Between
W.W. Lowman Plain Songs
"Out of the ashes of Elephant [Revival], comes the first solo release from any of the members...from the Bon Iver-esque presentation of First of the Year to the soft finger-picking of The Reason, to the dark, industrial synth of Detour Garvey puts forth a diverse and raw collection of highly personal tracks...and finally places his art out in front."
-Brian F. Johnson (Marquee Magazine)
"He's just the best drummer I've heard in a long time. He's a real creative, very creative person."
-Shabda Noor (Stan Kenton)
"Every time we come to Chicago, we go see an awesome show, and [Darren's] always a part of it...We would like to assume that [he] plays in every good band in Chicago."
-Mike Maimone (The Mutts, Company of Thieves)
"Darren is one of the best drummers I've ever worked with. He comes prepared and focused and always delivers. He is a multi-instrumentalist that can add depth and understanding to your music. A major asset to the production of any record."
-Manny Sanchez (Umphrey's McGee, Patrick Stump, Zwan)
"I remember really being blown away by the Nervous Center show...I think [Darren’s] playing was fantastic on that – real imaginative and musical."
-Glenn Kotche (Wilco)
"He's a frightening, worldly, musical power-genius, and I'm sure he's got some stories for you."
-Packy Lundholm (I Fight Dragons)
"Fortunately for us, it didn’t take us too long to find Darren, and as you will see when you hear us play, the brother is in the pocket."
-Paul Murin (DeadPhish Orchestra, Phix, Ralph's Kind)
"The parts are extremely precise, [Darren's] moving back and forth from instrument to instrument at the right time in complex time signatures and different feels."
-Steve Edwards (NPR "Eight-Forty-Eight")
"The layered tones and collisions of sounds infuse [Under A Common Ceiling] with a satisfying richness. Quirky, upbeat pop tunes show Garvey’s deft arranging skills and his knack for writing gently energetic numbers."
-Patrick Conlan (Illinois Entertainer)
"Multi-percussionist Darren Garvey is known to pick up rather scary looking yet ear pleasing metallic instruments [you] have never seen before..nothing short of mesmerizing."
-Sharyn Goldyn (The Windish Agency)
"Garvey is a life-long musician who studied jazz and percussion…and has been touring with bands since the late 90s. He is a producer, a father, and plays a myriad of instruments. He is inspired by his deep-rooted passion for music and the challenges of life. Those experiences shape his songwriting."
-Cynthia Wilson (Scene Magazine)
"Our very own, the incomparable Darren Garvey, opened the show last night playing a solo set and proceeded to blow everyone away. Luckily he’s on our side! ...Darren's drumming reputation preceded him. It is no wonder, now that I know him. His feel and timing are effortless. Not to mention, he always plays for the betterment of the song."
-Cameron McGill (Cameron McGill & What Army, Margot & The Nuclear So and So's)
"Darren Garvey, has a freaking cello bow or something, and he draws it over the rim of his big cymbal, which he then sets wobbling in cosmic song...and shakers — how can you be brilliant at playing a shaker? But there’s this one round cheese-grater doodad, I swear Darren gets it talking, chattering in Hindi…watching Darren picking up and putting down this and that — I’ve only mentioned about a tenth of what he deploys, he’s laying out great counter-rhythms with a shaker in each hand, banging one of them on the Chinese cymbal, leaning out to ding the triangle and then stroking a bow around the ocean harp."
-Candace McNulty (Read It News Magazine)
"I was captivated by...Darren Garvey's almost schizophrenic ability on a multitude of instruments."
-Theresa Carter (The Local Tourist)
"Darren is the most talented musician I've ever worked with. The fact that he plays almost every instrument and plays them well is so valuable to our company (and humbling to see as a fellow musician)...Those things, coupled with the fact that he is a really solid guy (hard working, reliable, modest, detail oriented, easy to work with, etc etc) made it a no brainer to ask him to be our Music Director. I feel super lucky to have him in our orbit, and can't recommend him highly enough."
-Josh Kahle (I.V. Lab Studios)
"Garvey is a bundle of creativity and passion packaged in a relaxed, soft spoken exterior...he is not a prisoner of old formulas. His music expresses helplessness and vulnerability. It is dark and introspective, while managing at the same time to express optimism."
-Hank Perritt (Indie Music Chicago)
"Ooh and ahh to the finest percussionist!"
-Peggy Mathies (Taos Inn Adobe Bar)
"Now when I play [cello] live, there's a solid drummer with us. [Darren] plays a stripped down set and he's really sensitive to our dynamics, which is rare in a drummer...The best thing about playing with him is understanding. I know where he is going...It's very natural to play with him. He has a great groove and an open heart."
-Bonnie Paine (Elephant Revival)
"Darren is a rare breed of musician in today's world. His ability to arrange a song and his attention to every detail within the arrangement makes such an impact on any song he is tasked with writing...Not only is Darren a powerhouse of a songwriter, he is also one of the easiest people with which I've had the pleasure of working. He never let's his ego stand in the way of the ultimate goal/outcome of a particular song and is always focused on turning out the best composition or song...I couldn't be happier to be working with Darren."
-Jeff Leibovich (Vintage King, River North Records)
"[Darren's] percussion style is as unique as that of Kapsalis's approach to guitar. [He] pushes the boundaries of percussion to the limit- and sometimes further- by using unorthodox playing techniques in combination with traditional percussion instruments, such as a cello bow on the cymbals."
-Jazz Novo Review
"Our drummer Darren plays just about any instrument you put in front of him, which is very helpful in the studio."
-Joe Goodkin (Paper Arrows)
"Darren is a true brother. Deep in soul and drenched in talent, he adds a wonderful rhythmic sparkle to every song he plays."
-Bridget Law (Elephant Revival)
"Deftly mixing jazz, folk, chamber pop, indie rock, and world music, Under A Common Ceiling is refreshingly varied in its restless, border-crossing musicality...A drummer by trade, Garvey is adept at incorporating sly grooves and rhythmic counterpoints into his songs, without distracting from melodic and chordal variations. It’s seriously interesting and engaging music that never imitates, but sometimes calls to mind similarly restless artists as Andrew Bird or Kaki King. This is good, good stuff. "
-CD Baby Editor's Pick
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