photo by Marcella Di Sandro

gig schedule, updates, and archival posts available at

Greg McGarvey is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist.

"I always wanted to have a device that could record my dreams and play them back the next morning. As a songwriter, my goal is to create pieces that feel like what those dream movies would feel like."

Greg first touched his grandfather's 1940s Gibson acoustic guitar at the age of three and has rarely been seen without a guitar since. His father Scott claims he learned to read earlier than expected in order to more easily find songs on Everly Brothers records. By the time Greg saw The Everlys play a gig at Valley Forge Music Fair in 1989, he knew what he wanted to do with his life.

Greg first performed publicly at the age of eighteen in Bristol, Pennsylvania, and started writing his own material by twenty-four, inspired by such acts as The Everly Brothers, The Beatles, Neil Young, R.E.M., Robyn Hitchcock, Lucinda Williams, and Patti Smith. Greg sang his first original song at J.B. Kline & Son Gallery in Lambertville, New Jersey.

In addition to solo acoustic performances, he's played original music with GETdownSOULS, Deluxe Thumps, MOONSLOPE, and Vagabond, and traditional Irish folk music with Righteous Jolly in Uncle Argyle. He has also contributed music to the Webby Award-winning mockumentary Gemini Rising and has guested with acts such as Nick Crocker, Cait Black, Kurt Mattel, SYRRAH, Jenny Cat, John Beacher, Cecil Middleton, Chris Marston, Evan Scheerer, Mike Kiker, Daniel Wright, Joe Rakowski, Cara Cartney, and Levee Drivers.

Greg's visual art was first shown at Princeton's ArtTimesTwo Gallery in a 2012 show called The Activity Of Form. Curator Madelaine Shellaby explains that all the show’s pieces "explore the boundaries between the real and the felt - between what is seen and what can be expanded and known from it."

In August 2015, a month-long exhibition entitled A Few Moments With Marcella opened at Langhorne Coffee House's Artist On The Avenue, a show celebrating the life of the brave and beautiful Marcella Di Sandro, tragically lost in 2014 to cancer brought on by Fanconi anemia. Patrons of the show helped facilitate a donation to the fundraiser started in Marcella's name, Chellie's Challenge.

2017 finds Greg prepping the release of his first two albums. You Don't Have A Map is an eclectic batch of songs from Greg's first seven years of songwriting. A second album, tentatively entitled Count The Colors, is a tribute to Marcella, one of the earliest and strongest supporters of Greg's songwriting.

Greg also maintains a continually expanding sound collage, started when he was fifteen years old in 1998 and, as of 2017, lasting for more than twelve hours. "If my songs and my visual art are in the front window of my shop, Sound Collage is a somewhat polluted, multi-colored stream flowing behind the parking lot."

For inquiries about booking, questions or comments, email

Thursday, April 13, 2017


She just keeps giving to me. Gone almost two-and-a-half years, she manifested in my latest musical move and the highlight of the day so far - a phone call from the leader of an amazing orchestral ensemble. When I thought about how to best approach the songs of mine that require strings, I thought of them first. But initially I felt sheepish. Could I really work with musicians of that caliber? The idea that I was able to gather interest from the people I really wanted is a Marcella-inspired idea. Like my 2015 photography show ‘A Few Moments With Marcella,’ doing this work in someone else’s honor has given me the incentive to have big ideas and not compromise them.

I am taking the same approach to the record about my time with Marcella, my first album after ten years of songwriting, and its accompanying record of older songs. I looked at the song list and tried to be honest with myself about how I want to approach each piece of music. It was gonna involve getting some outside help from people that I didn’t yet know, as well as people I do know who I know to be busy people. It’s been the greatest thrill to have all of these people tell me yes.

We did our first session the other day at Sweet Creek Studios in Upper Bucks County. I will tell you about it soon, but I am currently distracted by the clouds underneath me. Mountains in the distance, unidentified. Go west, youngish man!

I got Mini Rainbow Frogs all over the plane. The woman next to me told me, "let them go."

Flying over the upper tip of Texas, my right pinky finger scans two nearly imperceptible hairs on my nose. Nicky is asleep and I am the meat of a Sleeping Lady Sandwich. Passing over Oklahoma City now. Most of these mid-USA places are all about as foreign to me as Wrocław, Poland was. I want to see them all. Newtown, Pennsylvania to Los Angeles, California feels like a long journey to me, but perhaps not to the woman next to me who is traveling from Quebec to Hawaii.

The first place we take the rental car is In-N-Out Burger. I hope this will be my first “WOW!” moment in California. It is not.

Parking the car in our new temporary neighborhood, the first thing that strikes me is the delicious aroma. Nearly every inhalation fills my head with honeysuckle and jasmine and perhaps trace amounts of ocean breeze. Like we're in the middle of a garden no matter where we go. NOW I am in love with California.

Here in Los Feliz, we stay with Shannon, a friend of Nicky’s who works in the film industry. We discuss celebrities a little bit, but we discuss Marty The Dog a lot. He is a small white dog who is a known man-hater. I work hard to present him with my calmest energy, soft-voiced, limp-wristed. It works. Before long, I am serenading him. I made up a song called “If I Wrote A Song For Marty (How Would It Go)?”

if I wrote a song for Marty
would he look me in the eye?
would he say that I am OK
even though I am a guy?

We take a short walk to H Coffee on Shannon’s recommendation. The Australian man in front of me in line thinks it's freezing. (It is sixty degrees.)

I pass women on the street and wonder, “have you known Anthony Kiedis?”

What is John Frusciante doing right now? It's none of my business.

What does Flea’s house look like? Do I think about the Chili Peppers this much on the east coast?

“It’s a ‘Crenshaw’ sign! Like in the Snoop Dogg videos!!”

Driving around this huge, oft-romanticized, historic city for the first time is a thrill. We stop at the Walk Of Fame just ‘cause we can. I give a guitar pick to the recently departed Chuck Berry, photograph some teenage girls flipping their respective birds on the Donald Trump star. In front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, a hip hop guy accuses me of being afraid of black people when I fail to take his free hip hop CD. “I don’t have a CD player!” I lie emphatically. Every few feet, someone asks us to take a tour of the stars’ homes. I judge their invasive industry, and resume my thoughts about the whereabouts of John Frusciante. It is evident that the Walk Of Fame is something to do once, and probably just once.

Does the impeccably dressed, cheerily chipper CVS manager aim to be discovered by a casting agent? I like his pep. I also like how merchants in California aren’t confused about my desire to take my items without a bag like they often are back home.

We take in the amazing views at the top of Griffith Park, sun beating down on our pasty skin. It strikes me that I haven't made enough plans for my first journey to California but that it doesn't matter. These mountains are the event I want to attend. I scan them for hikers and fantasize about days spent investigating the trails that surround us. I imagine hiking as close as I can to the Hollywood sign. It quickly dawns on me that this region will require many return visits to see everything I think I want to see, let alone the things I want to see that I don’t yet know that I want to see. It's like visiting five or six east coast states at once.

The Target men’s department looks the same no matter how far you roam, like some sort of portal back to  - for me - Langhorne, Pennsylvania. It’s as disconcerting as it is comforting. Corporate America - It’s As Disconcerting As It Is Comforting!™

“I always knew I'd kiss you in the West Hollywood Target.”

I buy new pants for the wedding and am disturbed by my changing waist size. But not so disturbed that I don’t grab a Toblerone for the elevator ride down to the underground parking garage.

Shannon calls a Lyft and takes us to dinner at the delicious Wurstküche. It’s the kind of place that is probably proud of their long line, something we typically don’t bother with in our suburban lifestyle. They even have a Wandering Bro to help you decide what sort of meat and beer you might want to put into your face when you eventually order. I ask Nicky if she thinks he saw an ad in the paper that stated, “WANDERING BRO WANTED.”

I’d been talking with my dad for years about getting a rental car in Los Angeles and driving up the coast. That has sadly turned out to not be in the cards. Instead, I am doing it with a woman I met through my cell phone in 2015 and two of her friends. And it’s great! It’s like that song says, “life is what happens when you’re busy trying to find the In-N-Out near Camarillo… not the one in the outlet mall, but the other one.”

I failed to grab my AGPTEK MP3 player from my car in Pennsylvania, so the car radio is playing whichever staticky college radio station I happen to land on. We stay left-of-the-dial when traveling, and occasionally far-right. As we make our way toward the lower end of Northern California, my original primary California reference point - Neil Young - comes on the radio with his recent piece “Peace Trail.”

We’re playing jazz by the time we get into the Santa Barbara region, jaw-dropping mountains out the right window, Pacific Ocean and some massive tankers in the distance out the left. Someone speaks of the hiking trails in these mountains and I get another craving to extend our trip for another two months so I can see EVERYTHING.

A moment alone under palm trees on the main drag in Santa Barbara. Nicky and her Bryn Mawr pals are shopping. I’ve been warned all my life that I’ll never come back from California. It’s indeed a risk. I also had trouble fleeing Nashville and Berlin, but I always come back to the area of the world where Jamal The Cat lives.

Fueled by unbelievable fish tacos from Corazon Cocina SB, I wander Santa Barbara in search of a cheap haircut. I enter a place that promises a $45 cut after a ninety minute wait. I’m not in Tullytown anymore! I will be a shaggy Greg at Ari and Drew’s wedding. People are used to a shaggy Greg.

Nicky does a reading from the altar at this beautiful Unitarian church. I’ve never seen HER on-stage! She does her friends justice and everyone is happy-crying by the time the bride makes her way out. These people are cool and these people love each other! As The Minus 5 said, life doesn’t really half-suck most of the time.

Surrounded by a bunch of celebratory gals, I barely have to speak. Perfect! Sam and I are unified in our near-silence under palm trees and beautiful California skies. Marty The Dog waits in the hotel room. Sam loads a Pez dispenser for the first time in his life and feels appropriately euphoric. I try to catch up to his level of euphoria by drinking lots of booze. It works! A Manhattan and a margarita; east coast and west coast together in my bloodstream!

Or a guy getting drunk on free booze. Either way.

I drink enough to do my version of dancing. Nicky is beautiful, as usual. No matter how many new contexts I see her in, she keeps being beautiful. I am so lucky to be traveling with her.

Just as the bride is doing, I dance a little, then reach into the bowl of Haribo Peaches for a sugar fix, then dance a little more. My addictions are delicious.

I spot a piano in the corner of the room and play along to “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” hoping that Nicky won’t notice. She does and tells me that she does not approve of my unauthorized use of the Unitarian Society Of Santa Barbara's piano. Drunk Greg decides that she’s full of shit and fumes for a few seconds before grabbing another Haribo Peach. I find on this instrument-less trip that I gets squirmy FAST. I miss playing guitar by Day Two. My addictions are delicious.

Marty accompanies us to breakfast at both the hotel and, on New Friend Lauren’s advice, Savoy Cafe & Deli. We say goodbye to everyone and get back on the road, going north up the Central Coast.

Our room at Monterey’s adults-only Hotel 1110 has a large portrait of Tina Turner above the headboard. The rooftop bar has an excessive amount of succulents and a great view of Monterey Bay, presumably (it’s very dark right now). The barman invites us for a complimentary drink. We promise to return the following evening but instead we - more than likely - never see him again in this lifetime.

Inspired in part by my quest to get a great cup of coffee somewhere new each morning, we find ourselves in Carmel-By-The-Sea. I fantasize about having a three-day writing bender at Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Co., but I get my latte and we stay on the move. Elsewhere in town, I'm knocked out by the beautiful garden outside the Church of the Wayfarer. I like seeing a church that doesn't discard natural beauty but celebrates it.

On our friend Lauren’s advice, we travel to Point Lobos. We park right on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway and enjoy a brisk walk through a sweet-smelling forest. As we approach the shoreline, Nicky wisely advises me to not get my hopes up about seeing sea lions. What she doesn't know is that I've decided that I MUST.

I gingerly wander the cliffs and the pterodactyl-era sandstone rock formations known as the Carmelo Formation. To my great relief, the relatively cautious Nicky joins me. Walking these strange fossilized rocks with my partner, I'm reminded that, whatever I may think of myself, I am merely one of the animals on one of the planets. I steal a shell for my nephew Nolan who is busy being an animal on the other side of this continent.

Someone nearby smokes a joint. “I get it,” I think. “A redundant high in a place so beautiful. But I get it.”

(I did look for them, though.)

We find the sea lions. My camera battery hangs in there just long enough for me to take their family portrait. Just a buncha bewhiskered sea schlubs trying to get a nap, unknowingly representing an achieved goal for this human traveler.

A day and night in Big Sur was cancelled after we learned of the recent mudslides, but we did drive to the point where the PCH was closed and wander around the forest a bit. Passing a homeless and/or hiking man who blended into the scenery almost to the point of invisibility, I touched my first redwood tree and walked up to a sunlit creek, kneeling down to steal a cookies-’n’-cream-style stone.

Back in the rental car, I scarf down my fish and chips leftovers while Nicky cruises through the awe-inspiring scenery around the Carmel Highlands. We marvel at the seemingly inaccessible luxury mountain top homes with their treacherous private roads, alternately scoffing at the rich assholes who must own them and hoping to be those rich assholes one day. I wave to more hill-dwelling cows and horses than I’d like to admit.

Home is a long way away. We drive from Monterey to Los Angeles listening to My Favorite Murder Podcast and You Must Remember This. Third try at In-N-Out, somewhere on the 101. Better, but still not as good as I'd expect for being mentioned in a Neil Young song. Aside from a stop at the Carmel Mission Basilica, this day is essentially one of two travel-home days. It is exhausting, yet I feel that the time spent along the Pacific Coast Highway would have been worth MUCH more effort than that.

We stumble onto Venice Beach ‘cause we can and then collapse in an inexplicably handicapped-accessible Super 8 room in Culver City, resting before traveling to Houston and then Philadelphia the following day. The Super 8’s free orange is too bland and the Super 8’s free orange juice is too sweet. In my weary delirium, the lifesize standee of a man who looks a little like Sam Phillips in his prime seems to say, “IT ALL BALANCES OUT IN THE END, JACK.”

Waiting for my suitcase to be hurled onto the carousel in Philadelphia, Nicky spots the caged bird that rode on our flight. I hit Record on my cell phone and record one final animal sound on this trip.


My sister kindly drives us home from the airport, catching me up on moments of east coast life that I missed. I wheel my suitcase down the sidewalk in front of my beige home, Nicky by my side, and I realize things ain't so bad here. There is some stressful business to deal with, but so many joyful things, too.

It all balances out in the end, Jack.


Friday, March 3, 2017

It Was All Inside

I only know what it’s like to be in this one head. It is often noisy in a placid place and vice versa. Garrison Keillor says the city is a good place for shy persons. I am alone in the country (just a few miles from the pig farm where my family’s old pet pot belly pig Zoe came from) and I’ve got an off-green patina of angst covering the exterior of my brain. Like a barely perceptible electrical shock that keeps me from peace. Silently. There is no indicator light on my forehead to alert those around me to the conditions inside my head. Perhaps those closest to me recognize my weather patterns. 

There’s so much in our blood. I make money, friends, and old women swoon with the musical gifts that course through my veins, inherited from a grandfather born in Appalachia in the 1920s, the Big Band players in the Burns family from Rhode Island, and who knows where else. I also, perhaps, get these overcast moods from my blood. I see the melancholy times as my spiritual payment for the joyful times. 

Perhaps it is both nature and nurture. When shit would hit the fan during my youth (in the home or on the schoolyard), I used to step outside my skin and wonder, "isn’t this gonna stick with me?” I heard “you’re gonna carry that weight a long time" like a friendly warning from rock & roll shamans.

Late winter light is beaming through the front window to the delight of the flowers in the transparent blue vase, my skin, and perhaps the woman typing on her laptop. This spot was a tobacco store in the Marcella Days. Now it is a café. I judge your addiction and celebrate mine. 

These days, I feel more integrated. Passing years and fallen tears have lead to new plateaus. For a man with an ongoing family crisis, I am far too happy. I do miss plenty of sleep and I do clench plenty of teeth. But I also keep having absurd amounts of fun. I’ve never been happier than I was chasing my little blonde nephew up and down playground equipment the other day in Lambertville, New Jersey. 

This winter, I shoveled snow once and shook a musical hero’s hand twice. Country-rock guitar god Albert Lee’s in January, tuneful surrealist Robyn Hitchcock’s last night. While signing my “Living Room Guitar” (formerly just “My Guitar,” 1995-2014), Robyn asked who’d signed near the soundhole. I explained that I signed it under an alias (Chance Raspberry) and then had the curious sensation of being momentarily concerned that Robyn Hitchcock (he of “Man With The Lightbulb Head” fame) might’ve found me to be overly whimsical. He then proceeded to out-whimsy me by signing “Robyn Hitchcock Signed Greg’s Guitar.” Phew.

My wingwoman snapped some photos of us standing in the lobby with the guitar, formerly my dad’s. Just when I figured I’d exceeded my quota of fan interaction time, he started to ask me questions about the guitar. “What kind of guitar is it?” “How’s the action?” One of the voices that most often emanates from my stereo speakers was being used to inquire about this old guitar that I played with Mike Harris at the St. Michael The Archangel schoolyard, pulled dozens of Greg McGarvey songs out of, made a few thousand bucks with, and played “Across The Universe” with at Marcella’s services. Nice. I don’t know what the fuck is up with this jarring, erratic, still-amorphous young year of ours, but I know that it is the year when I shook Robyn Hitchcock’s hand. 

Will it also be the year that I jam at Don Everly’s house in Nashville? Some of my dreams are less realistic than others. My friend Dale used to see the guy at Whole Foods every couple of days and, somehow, this fact filtered through the impressionistic caverns of my mind led to the birth of this goal. 

Teens outside the window keep picking up the café's sandwich board sign every time the wind blows it back onto the sidewalk. May we all stay this devoted to our impossible goals. In my life, I’ve looked at my hands and seen myself doing things I would’ve previously deemed impossible.

Perhaps I will look down one day and see myself preparing dinner. 

Should I walk to the record store or tell this notebook more things? Writing is always the best move, right? I like these prose things because I want people to get to know me after I’m dead. Relatives whose parents are still unborn. Similarly, I want Teenage Penny and Collegiate Nolan to get a taste of the flavor of these days, if they want to. The days when they were new to the team/everything. I love you now and I’ll bet that I love you later, too.

I wrote a note on this other page that says “it was all inside.” I made a few moves last year that felt inorganic but I nevertheless thought might lead to advancement. They did not. By abandoning those thoughts and following my intuition, I managed to write the songs of Count The Colors, the album I begin recording on March 12. It is through these songs that I have been able to see my way forward. What I seek is an audience for these songs about my experience of being human as filtered through my beautiful, scratch-and-dented brain. I want these songs to take me around the world. 

There are moments when I feel too short for such a tall order, but if those teens won't give up on that sidewalk sandwich board, I won't give up on my goals either. 


Chance Raspberry

Friday, February 24, 2017

on my right

one bird is singing the same three notes in a time signature that only birds understand

on my left

the bird melody is reverberating through the forest, clustered together like some chord that only birds understand

now it's switched to a lower, flatter melody that doesn't resonate with the trees in the same way

just keeping you updated

Friday, February 10, 2017

We Are Gonna Do Beautiful Things While We're Here

I like the way that serendipity has been showing me the way lately.

To put my first two records together, without creative compromise, has been a stressful but rewarding journey. Family/world problems have made the realization of this creative work seem, at times, like a ridiculous pursuit. "This is the time for loud-mouthed, dark-hearted bastards, not sensitive song crafters... right?"

To be so ambitious in a time when I have limited money and clout is also a bit of an uphill march, especially when trying to corral outside collaborators together.

My music career, if concentrated in one place and not interrupted by health problems and the like, would perhaps be a very successful one with many eyes and ears on it. I see my reality as a lucky break; I got to become a better writer while still in the shadows. Not to mention a better person. I've had the privilege of developing to the point that my second tier songs are still good songs.

What fate had in store for my first ten years of public music-making has been a strange, seemingly nonlinear path... just when I'd made a few fans by playing loud, jammy rock steadily in New Brunswick and New York, I was suddenly bumming around Pennsylvania with an acoustic guitar, trying to get attention for original songs that nobody asked for. The day I wrote "Count The Colors," for example, I played three songs (cover songs, no less) in a dive bar in my hometown to absolutely NO applause.

But the thing is, I knew I'd written "Count The Colors" that day.

(Also, I taunted the crowd a little on my way out. That was fun.)

I'm taking the long way, but I've learned so much each place I've visited. In art/music, you take it all with you.

There's a certain point when you've got to know in your core that you have the goods and the rejection of a couple strangers has nothing to do with the mission that you're on. You're signal, they're noise. It took me a long time and a lot of work, but I'm there now. I know what I bring to the table.

After many years of lurking in the shadows, I am taking my songs outside to play in the sun. It is Marcella's inspiration that has revitalized me as a songwriter.

I wasn't able to write songs after the one-two punch of my dad having a debilitating stroke and my mom's house burning down immediately afterwards. But as the sole possessor of the memories of Greg's and Marcella's relationship, I refused to let them recede into the past. I wasn't gonna let our time together be reduced to a pile of photographs, even beautiful ones. My deeper motivation - as always - is to use the majesty of music to capture the FEELINGS of my lifetime. Mainly, perhaps, for myself and for the fear of losing sight of the beauty and spiritual depth we experienced.

Once a song is complete, though, it is endlessly rewarding to see how it touches others' lives. Creating music, for me, is a way of making sure that the richest parts of my life don't become reduced to Cliff Notes. I want to be able to walk right into these scenes like it's a dream I'm having. I want you to be able to do the same.

She's the reason that my songwriting has not only restarted but has reached a new plateau I never imagined was possible.

I was being vague a while ago when I was talking about serendipity. I was getting stressed out about trying to organize four busy guys together to practice my songs, so I started thinking about doing the project almost totally alone (faster). Before I could make any changes, I saw Nick Crocker on my way to the dairy aisle. Nick Crocker, my prose readers may recall, played music at Marcella's bedside the day before she died. He's also one of the biggest fans of these and other songs of mine.

I decided to make some tweaks to the plan to speed it up, but in the end, Nick Crocker will be playing guitar with me. He's on my team. And this is our time. We will, indeed, do this work and we won't be afraid to be ambitious. Fuck it. Life is short. We are gonna do beautiful things while we're here.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

recording studio update

For those who've asked about helping me record my albums (a largely self-funded project), there's an easy way to get involved! The older songs of mine currently available at can be purchased at ANY price you choose. All proceeds go toward my recording projects. I've got a studio to pay for and approximately ten talented guest musicians I would like to compensate.

YOU DON'T HAVE A MAP - A twelve-song collection of the best acoustic-based songs I wrote in my twenties, featuring a country-rock band, my folk group Vagabond, two songs with a string ensemble, and bookended with solo acoustic performances. Fan favorites and largely unknown pieces that I love equally. This collection of songs, presented in the order in which the songs were written, chronicles this young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk - or at least from Levittown to New Hope. The struggle to hang onto one's dreams while faced with the comforts of conformity emerges as a theme. You don't have a map, but you know you're not lost.

COUNT THE COLORS - Readers of my prose know that a lady called Marcella is my biggest fan in the spirit world. During a trip to Nashville with my father in September 2015, I began the process of chronicling my memories of her in song. "The Grandmas Of Nashville" finds me pounding the same pavement I'd pounded with her by my side less than two years earlier. "Hey Marcella" finds me telling stories from our early days with the scents of her mother's delicious Italian cooking wafting by. "I Ain't Got You (But I Got Your Shoes)" recalls the dream vacation she arranged for us just weeks before her diagnosis of terminal cancer. "No Grays And Blues" is a ballad that I wrote using only messages that she left behind in letters, text messages, and graffiti. "Layers Of Winter Clothes" recalls a series of emotionally impactful dreams - one from Marcella's little cousin Tommy, and two of my own. "Count The Colors" begins at the sad scene of her hospice room but ends with my pledge to remember the beauty of her free, artistic, loving spirit more than her dark final days. In "Something So Beautiful," I take words she spoke to me and turn them back on her: "how could you make something so beautiful in a place like this?" "Knit Hat Girl," her favorite song of mine, will appear for the first time on this release.

Just like You Don't Have A Map, the songs on Count The Colors will be presented, alternately, with accompaniment from a country/rock band, a string ensemble, and solo acoustic style.

When the roadside leaves tumble down and gracefully touch the ground, I'll count the colors for me, I'll count the colors for you.

Thanks for anything you can do to help me get this work recorded, and to spread the word about it once it emerges. Cheers!