Bryan Garbe

Bryan Garbe

Bryan Garbe is a multi-instrumentalist that specializes in drums, percussion and steel pan. He has been playing professionally and teaching for nearly two decades. Most recently he has opened for Bon Jovi at Madison Square Garden and Philip Phillips at the Beacon Theatre in New York City with his original rock band, Oak & Ash.

He has given clinics and master classes on drum set, percussion, and steel pan at several universities and private schools in London, Italy, Trinidad, Ireland, China and throughout the US. For the past six years he has also been teaching acoustic and electric guitar, ukulele, bass, and piano. Bryan is currently based in Brooklyn and teaches at the Williamsburg School of Music and The Practice Room NYC. He teaches private lessons to all ages as well as adult group drum and ukulele classes. Bryan plays in several bands in NYC and is an active freelance musician. His main project, Oak & Ash is currently working on a full-length record with Grammy Award winning Producer, Jacquire King. Please visit

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 music education and connecting drummers and percussionists from around the world, He is the creator of the CT PAS Artist Spotlight Series, a monthly feature which aims to promote and connect Connecticut drummers, percussionists, and ensembles.

Bryan began taking drum lessons at the Jim Royle Drum Studio in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he 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.

Bryans special talent began to develop and was recognized by his teacher, Jim Royle. At thirteen years old, he auditioned and was accepted to perform with the drum studios 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, he was also accompanied by steel pan virtuoso and close friend, Tracy Thornton. His time in the country where the steel pan was born, brought his passion and admiration for the instrument 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 traveled 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 joined the band My Fellow Sponges and played a sold out show at the An Taibhdhearc Theatre. He then joined them on stage 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.

1. Where are you from and where do you currently reside?

I'm from Fairfield, Connecticut and I now live in Brooklyn, New York

2. What musical influences did you have growing up?

I was heavily inspired by The Allman Brothers Band and Gov't Mule. My dad would take me to the Beacon Theatre in New York City every year to see their shows. Seeing them countless times at a young age, I was able to really soak in the experiences.

3. What inspired you to start making music or pick up an instrument? Was there a moment in time when you decided "this is what I want to do with my life"?

I remember seeing a Gov't Mule show at the Beacon Theatre when I was about 14. I was watching Matt Abts, the drummer, take this big drum solo and I said to my dad, "I want to do that!" At that point, I was already taking lessons at the Jim Royle Drum Studio in Bridgeport, CT. There, I was introduced to the world of percussion: reading music, playing in percussion ensembles and touring globally. I'm very grateful to have been a part of that studio, it taught me so much about professionalism, developing a good work ethic and thriving to be the best musician I could be. At the same time, I was teaching myself piano, guitar and really any instrument I could get my hands on. I began writing my own music and playing in a lot of different jazz and rock bands.

4. Describe your life in six words.

Listen, Learn, Practice, Create, Explore, Share.

5. Pick your favorite social media platform and tell us why.

I'd have to say at the moment Instagram. It seems to be the most used by my peers and easiest way to connect with people globally.

6. From music education to playing gigs, what role does music play in your life currently. What helps spark your creativity or motivation?

My life revolves around music, it always has. It is such a great field to be in because there are so many different avenues to explore. I'm a live performer, studio musician, educator, ensemble director, and a composer. In New York City especially, there are endless projects to be involved in and artists to collaborate with and be inspired by. Being here keeps everything very fresh.

7. Why go with the Luna brand?

Because Luna instruments have the best sound, playability and style. It is a company I truly believe is great, and I want to share that with everyone.

8. Which Luna instruments do you play now and what attracted you to these models?

I play the High Tide Tenor Uke with the pre-amp, the Art Vintage Distressed Folk Guitar, the Vintage Mahogany Cajon and the black top Tattoo Design Cajon. I fell in love with the look of the High Tide Uke, how the neck is designed with these beautiful waves as fret markers and the wooden detail, once I started playing it, I was hooked. For the Vintage Folk Guitar, I was immediately drawn to its aesthetic. Its parlor-size has an open and warm tone to it. For the Vintage Mahogany Cajon, I was able to try it out at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention and was completely blown away. It has such a great overall tone to it. Especially how deep the bass sounds how the top end can really cut through a mix. I've played a lot of different cajons, and this one really stood out from the rest.

9. If you could play alongside an artist living or deceased, who would it be and why?

I would definitely be Derek Trucks. He was my first concert at 11 years old, and to this day my favorite guitar player. I've seen him play many times over the years and I'm always amazed by his incredible musicianship. It would be an honor to share the stage with him.

10. Which genre of music fits your playing style the most?

That's a hard question to answer because I've always played many different styles at any given time. My gig rotation spans across rock, jazz, reggae, funk, indie, punk, metal, folk and top 40 bands. My beginnings in the percussion world prepared me for this versatility. I've adapted that mentality to my work around New York City.

11. What's on the horizon for you?

My band, Oak & Ash, is preparing to release our first full-length record, produced by Grammy Award winner Jacquire King. We've worked extensively at building a network of the right people to support the record's launch.

Simultaneously I've been working on a passion of mine, film composition. I'm studying with leaders in the field to better transition and develop my skillset and experience into a music for media portfolio of work. Since I love to play a wide variety of instruments, I really enjoy composing instrumental music.

I'll continue to teach, play freelance gigs and work as a session musician. Really looking forward to new opportunities and riding this train for a long time.

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