A Few Minutes with… Lucas Garrett “Performing live is the purest form of expression”
Desolation is the name of the game. Ask any performing musician, and they’ll probably tell you that performing live is like dancing in the fire, occasionally you’ll get a great audience turnout, other times, not so much. Either way, a performer’s job is to not let a lack of audience deter the musician from delivering a good show. Even off the stage, the role of the songwriter is one defined by solitude and the comforting solace of the unknown within one’s own bedroom.
This certainly rings true for Lucas, who does not measure the success of a show by audience attendance – as many do – but rather by his performance and his sense of artistic integrity.
I saw this be put to the test and watched the enigma of Lucas’ personality come alive during his performance at Putnam Place on September 16th. There were only three people in the audience at the time but Lucas and his band performed as if it were a packed house. The band includes Kevin Kosach on bass and Al Wolfer was filling in on percussion. The band performed a healthy mix of original songs and covers (Cat Stevens, Talking Heads, Tom Waits, Peter Gabriel, The Postal Service, Marvin Gaye).
“Performing live is the purest form of expression I can muster. It allows everything I want to say musically and has a forum in which I can say it,” Lucas told me confidently. He added: “and like all conversations, some are better than others! In all seriousness, I would describe it as something that often doesn’t make sense, but what also doesn’t make sense is doing anything else.”
This last sentiment certainly rings true considering the sheer absurdity of 2020’s shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic, which isn’t necessarily over just yet, had (and is having) a devasting effect on people’s lives and the country at large – but especially shook musicians and performers alike to their very core. Prior to the shutdown, Lucas had been performing to audiences of fifty and more – to say the least, he was on his game.
And now, on this cool mid-September evening outside the beautifully and recently-renovated Putnam Place, it feels strangely desolate. To think what we have all gone through in recent times, and to still witness people’s, and especially Garrett’s, morale seems unshakable, is a true honor. But then again, Garrett is no stranger to struggle. Despite his medical condition of Pompe disease, Lucas Garrett began performing live in February of 2012. To this day, he remains steadfast in the face of desolation.
“I used to be a lot weaker and it made my guitar playing very judicious. I had to figure out how to get the most notes out of a limited real estate on the fretboard,” Lucas told me in regards to performing. “In a way, this really helped my playing in the long run because I not only learned tons of inversions of chords but I also learned a ton of different scale and modal patterns in different positions.”
“Without that muscle limitation initially I wouldn’t be the guitarist I am now,” he added. Garrett is a great songwriter and approaches his music with a mind of a composer. In fact, he is a composer, in that he writes his music out and is therefore informed by theory. This well-studied approach doesn’t make his music any less accessible, however, and still retains the mystery of an honest songwriter with nothing but their guitar.
Garrett’s latest release, ‘So Many Times’ is driven by a synthesizer and is seemingly an amalgamation of ’70s rock with some Latin music sensibilities. What comes to mind fairly quickly are some similarities to Gary Numan and the Talking Heads. It is a breath of fresh air in that it offers something completely different from some of the pitfalls of the predictability of popular radio music and even some of the homogenous sounds that find their way into ‘indie music’.
You can check out ‘So Many Times’ and the rest of his catalog on his Bandcamp page, here.