Tacoma guitar sensation Nolan Garrett is getting ready to release his first full-length CD much to the delight of the throngs of fans the 15-year-old has attracted over the years. On June 21, he’ll unveil the CD at an all-ages release party at Jazzbones, 8 p.m., $10 cover.
Titled “All the Time,” this CD is sure to not only satisfy those who already love Garrett and his music, but also open up a whole new world of listeners for him as he continues to stretch and grow as an artist yet always anchored in his lead and rhythm guitar work that makes just about anyone who hears him play to sit up and take notice. This is what happened last year at the Back to Beale Street Blues Challenge in Tacoma. Garrett, a member of the South Sound Blues Association, ended up winning that competition in the solo category and represented the association at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
“It feels good,” Garrett told Tacoma Weekly about finally having the CD completed. “It’s been a year in the making…one of those things where I can’t believe it’s done. A lot of hard work went into it, and I’m ready for it to come out.”
Rock/funk quartet Vividal, a young Port Orchard band with their own solid following, will be opening Garrett’s CD release party. Garrett will perform and sign CDs, which will be for sale at the event for $10. Afterward, “All the Time” will be available for $15 at http://www.nolangarrett.net. Tracks will also be available on iTunes.
“It’s just going to be fun. My goal is to pack Jazzbones downstairs and upstairs,” Garrett said. Two members of Tacoma band Monsters in the Dark will be joining him onstage – keyboardist Ray Hayden and sax player Paul Sawtell.
'All the Time' to be released to the public on June 21
"When I was given the opportunity to play in Nolan's band, my immediate answer was a resounding yes,” Hayden said. “I truly believe in his music, talent and vision as a young artist. Performing live with Nolan shaves, oh, about 20 years off my life. Come see this kid before he hits the road – you won't regret it. It’s going to be a great show!"
Featuring 11 original tracks written or co-written by Garrett, “All the Time” was produced in Los Angeles by Jeff Kossack of Other Hand Recording. Garrett, who was staying at the famed Sunset Marquis hotel during the weekend of 2012’s Grammy Awards, was practicing his guitar poolside when he was approached by Kossack and the legendary Cyndi Lauper, who was particularly intrigued by his playing.
“I was just sitting there working on my practice routines in my own little space,” Garrett recalled. “I did that for about eight hours. I didn’t know who (Lauper) was when she first came up, and she said, ‘You’ve been playing that guitar all day. Have you finally learned to play a song?’” Garrett then played his song “Don’t Criticize Me” (which he included on “All the Time”) for Lauper and Kossack and things took off from there. Garrett returned to L.A. five times to record “All the Time” with Kossack.
“It’s so professional down there. It was a real learning experience,” Garrett said, and the same held true during shooting of his soon-to-be-released music video for “Don’t Criticize Me” created by Robot Sound, Cannon Boys and Robot Film Company in LA.
The variety of music on “All the Time” reveals just how diverse and talented this straight-A School of the Arts (SOTA) student is. A mixture of funk, blues, rock and slow songs, the CD includes an eclectic blend of musical genres, which has become Garrett’s trademark. His biggest influences include Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney and John Mayer, and his music reflects elements of each of these artists’ styles coupled with his own twist and flair. “People say, ‘he’s in all these genres,’ but I just write what I feel,” Garrett said.
While songs like “Don’t Criticize Me” give the CD a certain amount of bluesy swagger, it’s Garrett’s slower songs that bring out his heart and soul in the most wonderful ways. His voice sounds youthful and vulnerable when he sings the slow stuff, and when he’s singing harder/funkier tunes his voice takes on a harder and more forceful tone that perfectly suits the music.
The lyrics to his music also matter, as the words reflect the young man’s life experiences that he shares with listeners. For example, on the title track he sings a chorus to just be yourself: “My picture ain’t perfect in your mind/ and neither are you and that’s all right/ I wouldn’t even start to try/ just worry about living your life/ through all this I hope you see/ no one should tell you how to be/ I wouldn’t even start to try/ we don’t gotta be perfect all the time.”
In April, Garrett performed at the celebrated Whiskey A Go-Go in West Hollywood and has been invited back for a second show on June 22. Here in Tacoma, be sure to catch him next month at the Old Town Blues Festival on July 13 and Art on the Ave on July 14.