When Love Songs and Punk Rock Collide

Diego Garcia wsg Jenn Grant
Ladies Literary Club, Grand Rapids
Dec. 5, 8 p.m.
$10 public, $5 with Calvin ID
calvin.edu/sao, (616)526-6064

Diego Garcia's music could be called easy listening if not for the infusion of flavors his heritage and experiences have brought to his writing. The songwriter's latest album, Paradise, encompasses themes of love, reconciliation and self-discovery to the beat of Garcia's acoustic guitar. But Garcia's influences are wide ranging, including punk pioneer Iggy Pop.

Although both The Stooges and Garcia are from Michigan, Garcia weaves a wild western tale of meeting a Stooges member years ago.

"This rehearsal studio in Los Angeles has the smoking section in the parking lot and I was sitting next to this guy in a leather jacket, he had sunglasses on, and he looked like someone that had been around forever, with leathery skin," Garcia said. "And I knew that The Stooges were getting ready for a show in L.A. I don't think it was Iggy, but it was one of the Asheton brothers, and I said I'm a huge fan."

Garcia was heavily influenced by The Stooges, as well as the MC5, but his journey to becoming a songwriter was an organic process, and his musical tastes differed somewhat from his role models and his peers.

"My buddies were really into Led Zeppelin, and I was kind of freaked out by that, so at 15, I just started writing little love songs," Garcia said.

Those love songs carried him all the way to the release of his debut album, Laura in 2011, named for his wife. Currently, Garcia finds inspiration from everyday experiences.

"I write from a very personal place," he said. "I grab a melody out of the air while I'm holding the guitar. Sometimes the melody comes translated into words, and it's sort of like meditation."

Graceful guitar passages are surely influenced by Garcia's Argentinean heritage, which has crept into his music, especially on more recent songs.

"Spanish was spoken in the house and I'm bilingual, but I have been embracing the more Latin roots of my parents."

While Garcia's writing style draws from powerful emotions, he hopes his live performances will offer a different perspective to listeners and relate to audiences on an individual level.

"The live show is an escape from your day to day, where I just let go and recharge, and I think it's a mutual thing."