Bryan Garbe has been playing drums and percussion for nearly two decades. He has toured with several rock bands, percussion ensembles, and steel bands throughout the U.S. and internationally. He has been teaching drums, percussion and steel pan for ten years and for the past four years he has also been teaching guitar, ukulele, bass and piano. Bryan is currently endorsed by Remo Drum Heads, Vater Sticks, Dream Cymbals, and Luna Guitars and Ukuleles.
Bryan is currently based in Brooklyn and teaches drum set, guitar, ukulele, bass and piano at the Williamsburg School of Music. He teaches private lessons to all ages as well as adult group drum classes and ukulele classes. Bryan plays in several band in NYC and is constantly working as a freelance musician. His main project, Oak & Ash have been making some big steps forward including opening up for Bon Jovi at Madison Square Garden, Andy Grammar at the Paramount Theatre in Long Island and will soon be opening for CeeLo Green at the Alive at Five music festival in Connecticut. Please visit oakandashmusic.com for more information.
From 2011 to 2017, Bryan was the Vice President of the Connecticut Percussive Arts Society; an international group of drummers and percussionists that focus on enhancing musical education, pas.org. He is the creator of the CT PAS Artist Spotlight series, a monthly promotional post to shine a light on Connecticut drummers, percussionists, and ensembles.
Bryan began taking drum lessons at the Jim Royle Drum Studio in Bridgeport, Connecticut and was introduced to the world of percussion. At the studio he learned at a young age how to read music and play a wide variety of percussion instruments. Because of his solid foundation in the percussive arts, Bryan taught himself piano, guitar, ukulele, bass and delved into composition, in particular on the steel drum.
Bryan’s special talent began to develop and was recognized by his teacher, Jim Royle. At 13 years old, he auditioned and was accepted to perform with the drum studio’s top percussion ensemble that tours internationally. From 2003 through 2006 the ensemble performed at Bands of America, PASIC, and on board the Carnival Cruise Lines, traveling from New York to the Bahamas and Jamaica. In 2007 he toured the United Kingdom performing at the Royal Academy of Music and the Birmingham Day of Percussion. In 2009 he toured through Italy, playing at the Bressanone Arts Center and at the Concino Opera Hall.
In 2011, a trip that forever changed his love of the steel pan, he toured across Trinidad and Tobago, as the Assistant Director of the Steel Band and accompanied by steel pan virtuoso, Tracy Thornton. Being in the country where the steel pan was born, raised his passion for steel pan to a whole new level. Bryan currently performs Steel Pan in the New York metropolitan area and has developed a niche working corporate and private parties, weddings, and festivals.
In 2013 Bryan traveled to China to co direct the Jim Royle Drum Studio Percussion Ensemble and performed at the 9 Beats Performing Arts Center and the Beijing International School.
In 2015, Bryan traveld to Ireland to give a drum set, percussion, and steel pan clinic at the Royle Irish Academy of Music in Dublin. He then booked a solo tour playing steel pan in Galway at the Roisin Dubh and Sweeneys in Dublin. While in Galway he join the band My Fellow Sponges and played a sold out show at the An Taibhdhearc Theatre and in the Town Hall for the RTE National Irish Radio.
Bryan has met many inspiring individuals along the way that have pushed him forward and gave him a musical road map to follow. He has studied and performed with many great musicians, such as Mike Johnston, Dom Famularo, Will Calhoun, Winard Harper, Mike Clark, JP Bouvet, Joe Bergamini, Liam Teague, Chris Hanning, Memo Acevedo, and Marko Djordjevic.
Bryan is very grateful to be a part of any musical project. He is always looking forward to musical opportunities and will never stop learning and sharing the knowledge of music with others.
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Check out the below interview with Bryan!
How did you get started playing drums and what got you interested?
I started playing when I was about eight years old, my two older sisters had these clear plastic wands that were filled with purple and pink goo and I used them as sticks. I would bang around on the living room couch and thought that the cushions had a really cool bass sound to them and the woodend top, covered in white fabrice had a really nice high-end. I would play all the time until one day I was playing so hard that I broke both of the wands and the purple and pink goo inside went all over the white couch… my parents thought it was time for me to get some real drums. I was very lucky that my next door neighbor was a musician and recommend me to take lessons at the Jim Royle Drum Studio in Bridgeport which was right down the street from my house. So I signed up, practiced everyday and studied there for 10 years. When I was about 13 years old, my dad would take me to see Gov’t Mule at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, and I would watch the drummer Matt Abts play and I was completely consumed. His style on the drums set was mesmerizing and I knew then, that’s what I wanted to do with my life.
How did you get involved with Oak & Ash and what projects do you have coming up?
When I moved to Brooklyn, I went out every day trying to network and learn as much as I could. It wasn’t easy but this is what I really wanted to do, so there was no other option. I sat in at every jam session I could go to and I eventually built a relationship with the first drummer and one day he called me needing a sub and I jumped on it. I learned the songs inside and out, the gig went really well and I kept in touch with the band. Sometime later the drum chair was open and they offered me the gig. A lot of hard work and patience went into being in the position that I am right now and I’m excited to see where the road takes us.
After we opened for Bon Jovi at Madison Square Garden our drive to make our dreams a reality got even stronger. We all work hard everyday at building the band the best we can and we will be releasing our new album sometime in the next couple months.
We will be headlining at the Highline Ballroom on June 16th for any CT folks trying to see a city show. If not, we will be in Connecticut on July 6th opening for CeeLo Green at Alive at Five in Stamford and that following Saturday July 8th, we will be playing at The Acoustic in Bridgeport. Hope to see ya there. For any more info about Oak & Ash, check out our website oakandashmusic.com and our social media handle is @oakandashmusic
I also play for a couple other bands in the city and freelance constantly. I’m gigging regularly with the band London Plane and we are about to record an EP. Check out londonplanemusic.com I also just joined the house band at Battery Harris in Williamsburg, Brooklyn playing Steel Pan. They have a very cool reggae jam on Thursday nights.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get more involved in the music industry either professionally or as a hobby?
Never give up! If you really want to do this as your career, it's up to you to make that happen. Be willing to stay out a little bit later then normal just to meet some new people. Especially in the music industry, it's all about who you know, and if they trust you. But when you meet the right person, you have to be prepared to take on whatever challenge comes your way. For example, I went to a music industry event at a bar in Brooklyn when I first moved to the city, didn’t know anyone and went by myself. I walked around, talked to people, met a guy saying he needs a drummer for a tour, followed up with an email that night by sending my website, social media stuff and some recordings and got the gig! That gig ended up being the opening act for at DJ on Warner Brothers Records called Mystery Skulls. I learned so much on that tour and I felt that my hard work had paid off. That gig ended up paying my rent that month, gave me a new experience playing live to tracks and using the Roland SPD-SX and got me a lot of session work. Since I worked so hard on that gig and was very prepared, they recommended me to everyone they knew. You never know who’s in the crowd, always make an effort to find out.
We all need a little inspiration sometimes to keep us going down the road we want take. I created this artist spotlight series in hope to give people the inspiration they deserve. It’s been an honor to nominate all the incredible artists of the past 2 years, they give me the drive to continue my efforts in making my dream a reality. Thank you to CT PAS for it’s endless amount of opportunities. Drive fast, take chances.