James McGarvey

part folk. part rock. all soul.



James McGarvey began his pursuit of music at the age of eight, with his study of the trumpet (because his parents thought drums were too loud). His appreciation of the intricacies of melodies and harmonies developed as he became interested in new-age jazz and fusion, such as Chris Botti and Tiger Okoshi. James quickly found his head full of lyrics which were clamoring to be set to music. When his parents said he couldn’t learn the electric guitar (again, too loud), James picked up an acoustic and taught himself to play so he could write. As James continued writing music, he was influenced by the likes of Duncan Sheik, Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz, and John Mayer. James has continued his lifelong exploration of music through participation in choirs, musical theater, and collaborations with other artists. His heavy guitar attack and passionate vocals make for a unique sound; part folk, part rock, and all soul.

Getting Updated

If you’ve been following my Facebook page, you know that I’ve been fortunate enough to find the best community of musicians in San Diego County.

A few day into the new year, I performed at Open Mic Night in Fallbrook, one of many local music experiences created and produced by Kenneth Rexrode. I was thrilled with the reception in the room; it was an honor to play for so many people who appreciate and understand live music.

Just a few days before I returned for my second performance at Open Mic, Ken asked me to be part of the upcoming Six String Society‘s Mardi Gras Cruise. Of course I said yes.


I can’t wait to head out on this boat for awesome tunes and fun. Word on the street is folks are getting all dressed up and fancy for this shinding, so Maggie’s been having fun planning what she’s going to wear. Me? I’ll just wear what she tells me to. It’s easier that way.

I’ve got some other gigs planned for next month, check out the list below, and be sure to follow me on Facebook for more updates and info!


Catching Up

As I’ve been thinking about 2016, one word keeps coming to mind: eventful.

The world lost a lot of celebrities and artists, including some whose music had a profound impact on me.

Maggie and I celebrated Molly’s first birthday, Jacob’s fifth, and our sixth anniversary.

I got a beautiful new Seagull guitar, named Lana.

We took a road trip to The Gorge for the Dave Matthews Band’s three-night stand and helped raise some serious dough for conservation efforts.

We met some amazing new friends, and a guy in a Superman shirt bear-hugged me so hard it felt like I broke a rib.

We brought the kiddos with us as we voted in the primary and general elections.

I watched the Packers turn a rough season into another NFC North title.

I played tunes for and with some incredible people.

We found a new spot to live in beautiful Oceanside – our official California hometown – and I’m hard at work getting my home studio up and running so I can write and record new music.

Like I said, eventful.

National Anthem Practice!

I’ve been coaching my bandmate Stefanie for her perfomance of the National Anthem at the LA Kings game on January 27. Check out a bit of her sound.

Perfect Strangers Music

As you may know, our very own Stefaniewon a contest last August to sing the National Anthem at an upcoming LA Kings game. This has been a dream of hers since she was about six years old, and we’re thrilled to be supporting her!

To help her get ready for the big day, Stef enlisted James as her vocal coach. On New Year’s Day, we took a quick break from filming band videos to get in another coaching session. Check out the video below to see a sneak peek of what you’ll see if you tune in to the game on January 27th.

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On Meeting Our Icons: Duncan Sheik

As you might know, Duncan Sheik is one of my favorite musicians, this weekend Maggie & I got to meet him for the second time. Check out what she had to say about it.

On Life and Other Adventures

Jamesand I have been very lucky over the last few years to meet some of the people who have an impact on our creative lives. This weekend was a huge one: we got to meet Duncan Sheik, one of James’ earliest musical influences. Through a little bit of luck (and the awesome people at Tunespeak), I won tickets for us to see Duncan with Suzanne Vega, at the Saban Theatre, as well as a meet & greet with Duncan, and a signed set list.

James has been a huge fan of Duncan’s since his first album dropped in 1996. As a budding songwriter, James was profoundly impacted by Duncan’s work; the lyrics, music, and orchestrations spoke to him in a very powerful way. Duncan’s album, Humming, was the impetus for James’ decision to pursue songwriting. The first time we met Duncan (after a performance at the Iron…

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Life in La Mesa

After spending a couple of weeks in Oceanside, we’ve migrated further south to La Mesa, CA.

I spent a couple of afternoons up in Carlsbad, practicing for the upcoming Perfect Strangers debut show (Sept. 10th @ the Wrench & Rodent in O’Side); then I started taking in some of the local scene down here in San Diego and the surrounding areas.

I have to say, busking at Ocean Beach may be my new favorite thing; I’ve met some great people, and the view is pretty easy on the eyes.

Tonight Maggie and I had a quick dinner at DiMille’s in Normal Heights (possibly the best pizza I’ve ever had. Seriously, the spicy Alfredo sauce is the bomb dot com). Then we headed over to Java Joe’s to check out their Sunday open mic. It was quite an experience to play on the same stage that so many incredible artists have performed on.

Tonight I had the pleasure of meeting (among others) our host for the night, Isaac and next week’s host Nina. Both of them are excellent performers, and I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more from them.

In other news, we’ve got our internet connection figured out, so I’m planning to update much more frequently; so keep watching this space for news, and the Gigs page for places you can come see me play.

James McGarvey playing at Ocean Beach


California Living

We got to Oceanside, CA late last Friday night. After we got everything set up, Maggie and I headed out to get a quick bite. Since it was almost 10, and we were really, really hungry, we stopped into the first open spot we found, Carmine’s. The staff was very friendly, the slices were good, and they had garlic knots! East Coast friends, this place reminded us a lot of La Festa in Dover, NH, so keep it in mind.

Saturday, was a day for errands, Maggie, her mom, and the kiddos headed off to check out the Vista Farmers’ Market, and managed to score me my first official West Coast gig barely 14 hours after we got here – check out the Gigs page for more  details.

Sunday, I finally got to have my first rehearsal with Perfect Strangers, my newest project: a cover band featuring tunes from the ’80s and ’90s. Dustin & Stef are awesome bandmates, and I’m looking forward to playing out with them soon.

Monday, we had another rehearsal, and Maggie came out at the beginning to do a photo shoot. The pictures look great, and they’re working perfectly for posters, business cards, and online images.

We had more rehearsals on Wednesday and Friday, though I couldn’t let Thursday go by without playing, so I headed down to the Oceanside Sunset Market to busk at the end of Pier View Way. The vibe here is incredible, so many people were getting into the groove of what I was doing; I’m definitely going down to busk again this week.

The rest of the week has been filled with getting our online accounts up and running (shout out to Maggie for all of her help), recording some demo videos with Perfect Strangers, and practicing for our debut gig at The Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub here in Oceanside.

There’s still a ton to do, but I’m so motivated to get it done. Thanks to everyone who’s supported me thus far.

More to come #itsallhappening

California Dreams

Wisco Life

Last weekend was killer, got to meet some chill people, had some awesome food, and played (probably) the most aggressive two sets ever. I don’t want to claim it’s a miracle that I didn’t break another set of strings, but…

The best part though, was getting to celebrate the marriage of my sister in music, Brooke to her wife Sasha. It was a honor to rock the reception for them!

And, shout out to SCOTUS for being on the right side of history and upholding Marriage Equality (RBG is my home-girl).

Updates from Wisconsin

Bottles for BamaGreen & Reverb
Bottles for BamaGreen & Reverb

It’s been a busy week for me and Maggie here in Wisconsin. As I mentioned before, we spent Saturday and Sunday at Alpine Valley. Maggie wrote about the weekend on her blog, go check it out (#shamelessplug).

I’ve had fun bringing Jacob around to all of the best of what Wisconsin has to offer, Culver’s, The Chocolate Factory, and of course KwikTrip. Maggie’s also been helping Jacob practice his letters on the signs for the County Roads.

Not only did I get to jam with my friend Astel, but I also got to help him work on some of his tunes. I’m hoping that some day I’ll get to be in the role of producer for other musicians, there’s something very rewarding about helping artists get focused and create incredible music.

Last night we had a backyard show for my parents’ neighbors; which was going really well until the heat & humidity broke my g-string (again). Thankfully I found The Music Cafe in Mukwongo, where I got to pick up a couple sets of Elixirs and support a local business.

We leave Burlington sometime Friday to head out to Boyceville so I can play at my friend Brooke’s wedding.

More updates to come!

County Road W

Updates From the Road

We’ve finished the first leg of our journey, driving from New Hampshire through Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois before stopping for a while to visit my mom & dad in Wisconsin.

While we’re here, Maggie and I also get to see two Dave Matthews Band shows thanks to Reverb; we’re volunteering to talk about the environment, sustainability, and the farm to table movement. Seriously, check out the awesome stuff they’re doing with helping bands keep their carbon imprints low, and spreading the word about being more careful with the earth.

I’m also getting the chance to catch up with some friends and play some tunes, including playing at a wedding reception next weekend.

More updates to come!

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