It’s a tale as old as Hollywood: Young wanna-be actor or singer camps out at a Southern California institution and hopes to be discovered. In the case of Tacoma singer, songwriter and guitarist Nolan Garrett, it worked.
On Friday, the 15-year-old School of the Arts sophomore is releasing the fruits of that encounter from last year: a debut album. Garrett’s performance and release party at Jazzbones celebrates the arrival of the 11-track CD, “All the Time.” It features songs written or co-written by Garrett, who sings lead vocals and plays lead and rhythm guitar on all the tracks.
“Each song has its own unique genre/personality. There’s some straight up pop songs on there, some rock songs, funk,” Garrett said. “I just write it and whatever genre comes out, that’s what the song is.”
In February 2012, Garrett was staying at Hollywood’s Sunset Marquis hotel during the Grammy Awards. He parked himself pool side and played his guitar for eight hours straight. During his marathon session, a man and woman approached him.
“They asked me to play them a song. After, they kept talking to me and asking questions,” Garrett said. The man turned out to be music producer Jeff Kossack and the woman was 1980s pop icon Cyndi Lauper.
Kossack went on to produce Garrett’s album, which required five trips to Los Angeles to complete. During the process, Garrett gave the recording crew about three pages of notes per song.
“I’m a perfectionist,” he said. “I made sure there was nothing unsaid about this album.”
Garrett began playing guitar at age 8 when he decided he wasn’t good at sports. It was just months before his first public performance at a Relay For Life event. He played the first song he learned: Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.”
Garrett’s songwriting followed his guitar playing, but he’s been singing in public for only a year.
“I love doing all three. They all play on each other,” Garrett said. Garrett said his influences range from old school (Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney) to newer artists such as John Mayer.
But his main love is performing. “That’s the thing I’m best at. I guess I look like a crazy maniac on stage. People say it’s entertaining to watch.”
Garrett has performed at Jazzbones, The Swiss, The Spar, Louie G’s and plenty of coffee houses, benefits and community events during his short career. He’ll perform at this year’s Art on the Ave on July 14. In April, he performed at Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood with his studio musicians and has another show there Saturday. (Fellow Tacoma singer Shyan Selah and his Republic of Sound will share the bill.)
His past year has been particularly busy. Garrett was the solo competition winner at the local International Blues Challenge, which sent him to the international contest in Memphis, Tenn., in 2012. He was the youngest of 200 competitors at the event.
A music video of one of his album’s songs, “Don’t Criticize Me,” will be released in the next few weeks.
It was produced and financed by Robot Film Co. The shoot was much more elaborate than Garrett anticipated.
“I pictured one or two guys with a camera. But they had 30 extras and cameras everywhere. It was pretty crazy.”
A documentary filmmaker will begin filming Garrett soon — in case he becomes the next Justin Bieber.
On Sunday, Garrett went backstage after Lauper’s performance at Tacoma’s Pantages Theater. Garrett said Lauper gave him some career advice and Garrett gave her his CD.
The CD is self-released, but it’s as professional-looking and sounding as any big label. His mother, Marci Garrett, said it represents a significant financial investment for the family, which includes dad Sean and sister Nylah, 11.
“We all believe in him. He has to get out there and be heard,” she said.
Nolan Garrett CD release party
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Jazzbones, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
Cover charge: $10 (all ages)blog.thenewstribune.com/getout