Calista Garcia Band
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Calista Garcia Band

Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2018 | SELF

Brooklyn, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2018
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter




"Calista Garcia Changes the World for You"

Just after midnight on March 3rd 2020, one of the deadliest tornadoes in US history touched down just west of Nashville and proceeded to rip through the city, obliterating everything in its path. As the winds howled and sirens wailed, Calista Garcia huddled alone in her Belmont University dorm room and braced for the worst.

“It was the most alone and frightened I’ve ever felt," said the 20-year-old Takamine artist. “And at the peak of my desperation, for whatever reason, my favorite Jack Johnson song popped into my head. I just started listening to it over and over.”

You might not imagine a song titled “Banana Pancakes” to be a source of solace when faced with mortal demise. But such is the magic of song, as Calista is here to testify.

“When I needed the comfort and solidarity of music the most, when I was the loneliest and the most scared I’d ever been, music showed up for me. That experience changed my whole approach,” said the prolific Garcia. “From then on I sought out and wrote mellower, sweeter, more authentic songs. That moment definitely reshaped my artistry.”

A Takamine player since age 12, Calista Garcia’s current acoustic guitar of choice is the iconic EF341SC from the popular Legacy Series. But a recently acquired EF381SC 12-string she describes as her “dream machine” is quickly earning her favor.

Released August 20, 2021 as the first single from her upcoming EP A Beautiful World, "My Love, My Love, My Love" is a ballad of pure love, comfort and hope delivered with typical Calista Garcia flair. With captivating chord changes, seamless key modulations and vintage vocal arrangements to make Karen Carpenter proud, "My Love, My Love, My Love" is just the latest example of the charmingly sophisticated songwriting of Calista Garcia. Her upcoming six-song EP is scheduled for release October 8, 2021, and was co-produced by Calista and Buddy Speir at 38 North Studio in Falls Church VA, and mixed by Grammy award-winning producer Jim Scott in his vintage-equipped Los Angeles studio. The high-caliber talent is evident throughout the production. A preview of the EP will be available here.

The project is a follow-up to Calista’s 2019 debut EP Wild Woman which was self-released to much critical acclaim including a nomination for “Best Roots/Country EP” in the 2020 Independent Music Awards. Based in Washington DC, Calista is a 2021 Chris Austin Songwriting Finalist at upcoming Merlefest. - Takamine

"A Beautiful World by Calista Garcia"

It’s an odd thing, music. When the sonic vibrations ricochet down the ear canals, they ignite a chain reaction that floods the brain with dopamine, aka a “feel good” chemical. Though it’s known how it happens, the why is another issue altogether. Different pieces of music affect people in different ways for a variety of factors, from familiarity to stylistic to [fill in the blank]. Some folks get off on electric guitars, thud-thick rhythms and lived-in vocals, after all, while others prefer sick beats and Auto-tuned feats. Hell, a select few actually enjoy the harp! (Just a joke, Mikaela Davis fans.)

To my ears and dopamine-flooded brain, Calista Garcia’s six-track A Beautiful World EP—which will be available on the streaming services next Friday (Oct. 29th)—is everything good about music. It opens with “Deep Blue Diving,” a freewheelin’ Dylanesque number that could well be dubbed “Calista Garcia’s Dream.” It tackles some serious themes with humor, with my favorite moment being this verse: “I just saw a man with his head on the shoulder of his debutante devotee/He was looking across the cafe table making coyote’s eyes at me/So I asked the waiter in the Graceland shirt, ‘Why did I move to Tennessee?’/And he said, ‘Buck up, kid, I have reason to believe you’ll be received.’” (For those not in the know, that’s a sly nod to Paul Simon’s “Graceland.”)

Although the sound isn’t the best, this live rendition is fun:

The song that follows, “My Love, My Love, My Love,” is a hope-imbued vow inspired by the past year and a half. As if the pandemic hasn’t been bad enough, a deluge of bad weather has wreaked havoc across the country, including a tornado that devastated Calista’s adopted hometown of Nashville. In a press release, she says, “I created A Beautiful World to be an expression of radical optimism. Optimism, not because life is full of sunshine and rainbows, but rather in spite of how tough it can be…I think holding knowledge of the bad and still believing good can prevail is the bravest thing we can do.”

The mid-tempo “Half the Time” shuffles along with lyrics that fit the beat, seemingly silly at song’s start but revealing a dark current by the time the chorus hits: She’s treading water. “It keeps eating at me and I’m starting to fray/When you move, your colors start shifting/And you go on and change, but I just stay the same/And a hint of the veil is lifting/Telling me something’s wrong/Something’s wrong and that’s the truth/Don’t you dare look at me with pity when I stick around for you.”

“After You’re Gone.” the lone co-write (with Rachel Weisbart and Patrick Oberstaedt of the Gender Gnomes) of the set, tackles loss and grief—and, though inspired by the COVID Age, applies to the death of any loved one. “The first time I got lost was in November/I didn’t know I missed you till I found your empty chair/I thought of all the times I can’t remember/The times that you were with me, but I didn’t see you there.” Listening to it, I can’t help but to think of my mother-in-law, who we lost in 2019, and my father, who we lost in 2009, and my grandparents and great aunts and uncle, who we lost before then. Loss lingers on, but so does the love.

Like “My Love, My Love, My Love,” “Magnolia Tree” conjures Carole King circa Tapestry. “Life moves like a train,” she observes, “with no conductor, no tracks and no brakes/Life can feel like a game/Where they change the rules every time that you play.” The music swells like waves rolling to shore and Calista lets loose vocally, while an organ and way-cool backing vocals percolate to the surface at just the right moments.

The EP concludes with the title track, in which—like “My Love, My Love, My Love”—she vows to help the discouraged: “And when the wind knocks down your castle walls/Leaving you exposed as the hard rain falls/When you think you’ll wash away, I’ll hold you down.”

Since it came into my life earlier this month, I’ve listened to A Beautiful World more than any other release, new or old. While echoes of the folk rock of the ‘60s and ‘70s can be heard in the grooves, so too do the sounds of such modern folkies as Caroline Spence and Courtney Marie Andrews (among others). What keeps me coming back, however, is the unfettered passion she brings when she sings. These aren’t cookie-cutter songs designed to fit a specific niche, as is often the case, but songs that reflect her heart and soul. - Old Grey Cat

"Meet Calista Garcia | Singer Songwriter/Artist"

We had the good fortune of connecting with Calista Garcia and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Calista, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
I think people outside of the music industry today are unaware of how much being an artist has become entrepreneurial work. With the record label model diminishing, independent artists have had to become incredibly self-sufficient. I’m a big fan of music from the 1970s, and I watch a lot of music documentaries. Whenever I hear about how studio sessions back in the day used to run, it’s bewildering. The idea of putting a band up in a studio for weeks at a time, free of charge, to “write songs and make a record” feels like a fairytale. These days, artists write/record their songs in time we find in between being a manager, booking agent, stylist, graphic designer, content creator, merchandise seller, and personal PR rep. The game has changed. That being said, with me, the art will always come first.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have always been first and foremost a songwriter. Music and my life feel intrinsically linked. This connection has allowed me to really pour my all into what I create. Often, my songs know how I feel better than I do. Sometimes, I write about things abstractly that later come to pass. I write very personally, but I’ve come to learn that the most personal things are the most universal. I’ve been writing and playing out in the DC music scene since I was 10 years old. I’ve always been inspired by the folk rock scene of the early 1970s, because I like the way people viewed art as something that could be free and loving. Music has healed me more than any other force in my life, and I want to give music back to others what it’s given me.

Someone’s musical taste/style is like a fingerprint, completely unique to them. It’s our own personal snowflake. My style has been informed by being born in southern California yet growing up on my grandfather’s mariachi music. I believe my love of folk music and storytelling comes from my Irish side. My rhythms come from my mother’s Puerto Rican heritage. The blues in my music comes from growing up in Texas.

My path has been blessed but it hasn’t been easy. All of my struggles are documented through my songs. They also have pushed me towards creative outlets. I turn to music when I feel lonely. I want my music to make others feel less lonely, and I look for it to make me feel less lonely.

I’ve learned a lot through the music industry. I learned that people come first. I’ve learned to trust my intuition, and accept that not everyone I meet will have my best interests at heart. I’ve learned that strength can be softness. I’ve learned that self respect matters far more than any validation anyone else can give. Most of all, I’ve learned that how blindingly tough the music industry can be is a testament to what people are willing to go through to make music. I’ve learned to remind myself how lucky I am to make music for a living.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I have a soft spot for Hermosa Beach, so I’d recommend going there. There’s a really cute Greek restaurant there called the Uncle Stavros Cafe. Good food, nice people. My favorite place in the greater LA area is Plyrz Studios run by Jim Scott in Valencia, where I record. That’s my personal paradise. Another really fun spot to visit is Cornell Winery/The Old Place off of Mulholland Drive, near the Cornell/Malibu area. It’s a winery, restaurant, and just really cool spot to visit. I went there for a photoshoot, and there were motorcyclists, peacocks, and all sorts of folksy, art-filled nooks.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my parents. They have been 1000% in my corner since the beginning, and I could never have gotten to where I am without their love and support. They come to every show, my Dad always wearing my merch shirt, and my Mom often singing backing vocals. My dad began teaching me guitar when I was 8, and my mom taught me to harmonize. So I know how lucky I am to have a supportive family situation, it’s a privilege many artists have to go without. - Shoutout LA

"Rising Music Star Calista Garcia On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Music Industry"

Asa part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Calista Garcia.

Folk-rock singer-songwriter Calista Garcia brings a mix of complexity and sophistication to her confessional musings that carry a hint of pop and blues. As seen on Season 16 of NBC’s The Voice, her style hearkens back to ’70s classic acts such as Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell, but with a fresh modern twist.

Her debut extended play (EP) collection “Wild Woman” was released in April 2019 to much critical acclaim, garnering a nomination for “Best Roots/Country EP” in the 2020 Independent Music Awards. The project has also won multiple nominations and awards from International Acoustic Music Awards (IAMA), the International Songwriting Competition (ISC) and the Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest (MASC). Calista is currently working on her second record, A Beautiful World, mixed by Grammy Award-winning producer, Jim Scott in his vintage-equipped LA studio, and scheduled for release on October 29, 2021.

A prolific songwriter who plays guitar, piano, ukulele, bass, mandolin and harmonica, Calista is a 2021 Chris Austin Songwriting Finalist at Merlefest, a 2021 “She is the Music Foundation” Connect TogetHER Songwriting Fellow, the 2020 National YoungArts Gold Winner in Voice/Singer-Songwriter (top prize), a 2020 Johnny Mercer Songwriting Project Fellow, a 2019 Strathmore Artist in Residence, a 2017 & 2018 Berklee Performance Showcase Winner, the 2017 Bernard Ebbs Young Songwriter of the Year and a two-time Grammy Foundation Young Songwriter Program Artist.

A member of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild, Calista also writes for the stage, having completed her second folk-rock-inspired musical, Crystal Skies, which premiered in April 2018. Crystal Skies was a 2020 semifinalist for the Eugene O’Neill Musical Theatre Conference. Calista is based in the Washington DC area. She is on Takamine’s worldwide roster of Takamine guitar artists.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Iwas born in San Diego, CA but moved to Corpus Christi, TX as a young girl. I spent my childhood till age 9 in Texas and then moved to Arlington, VA near Washington DC. My dad was a naval aviator and my mom a lawyer, but both loved the arts. My Dad always was in and out of rock n’ roll bands, and first taught me the guitar. My mom was a musical theatre minor and taught me to harmonize when I was little. My favorite thing to do as a little kid was to write/tell stories.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

There’s a video of my two-year-old self at a family reunion where they decided to hold a talent show. I got up and sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, and then totally schmultzed the ending, just went for some big, high Mariah notes. And apparently, my parents thought, “Where did she learn to do that?” I also picked out “Falling Slowly” from the soundtrack of the movie, “Once” on the piano, when I was four, which inspired my mom to first put me into lessons. Music’s been all I’ve ever wanted to do, and it started out as a kid dream, but I never really dropped it. I’ve been lucky to have had a clear idea of who I was/wanted to be from a young age. I’m grateful for that.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Oh wow, there have been many. I’ve had many strange, unexplainable experiences. I could tell the story of how I got a job opportunity from a hippie woman named Moonshine, who I met on the side of the freeway in Topanga Canyon, and who mysteriously vanished when I looked away for a second. I could tell you about the time my friend Max and I unknowingly chose to film a space music video on the day the comet Neowise was visibly shooting through the sky, and we were able to capture it. I could tell you about the random fated run-ins I’ve had, at traffic stops, in street cafes, on dance floors. But the story that comes to mind is one from December 2020. I was playing an outdoor, socially distanced show in about 30-degree weather at the State Theater. When I finished my set, this woman came up to me in a rush. Her eyes were large and overcome with emotion. She told me she had been eating dinner at the restaurant next door when she stepped outside to take a phone call, where she found out her dog had just died. As she hung up the phone, she heard me playing my song, “After You’re Gone”, my song about grief and loss, and she wanted to tell me that it was the exact right moment for her to hear it. Stories like that are why I do what I do.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It’s not necessarily a mistake, but something funny that I used to do as a writer, was that I didn’t realize that songwriting works better when you pull from your own experience. I started writing when I was 10 years old, and to give an example, one of my first songs was called the “Little Things”, and its first chorus line went something like this, “I stopped wanting caviar long ago, now the little things are all I desire”. What the hell was I talking about? I’d never had caviar, I’ve still never had caviar. I definitely had a sense of blind confidence that I could speak on topics I knew nothing about, haha.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

As I’m writing this, I just released “A Beautiful World”, my second EP, three days ago! So that’s where my mind and heart are right now. I really poured my all into this release, I think the introspection from the pandemic, when I wrote most of the songs, allowed me to deep dive to a new level. So I’m very excited about that, and I’m feeling the glow of the responses I’ve gotten so far. People are getting it, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted. As for what comes next, I’ve got some more recorded music under my belt that will be seeing the light of day soon. It’ll be a departure from this EP, it’s a lot more rock n’ roll, a lot more like what folks have been hearing on tour this past summer/fall.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

1) For the malleable minds of children. I really think change starts at the very youngest in our society. These messages and conditioning start so early, and I think by having more diverse representations in media, kids will have an easier time avoiding some of those trappings that they’ll later have to work so hard to unlearn. I wanted to be in entertainment from a young age, and I think I was able to come to that conclusion because I had the privilege of being able to picture myself in what I saw on the screen. I also was lucky to grow up in Corpus Christi, AKA, Selenatown, where Tejano music was celebrated, and Latinx stardom felt possible and close at hand. Every child deserves to feel like they can do whatever they want to do when they grow up. 2) Because we can never hand out enough microphones or raise the volume loud enough on the voices of those who have been kept silent to make up for their silencing, but it’s imperative that we try. 3) Because art exists to challenge the status quo, and therefore white supremacy has been keeping art from doing its job.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

“You are walking an alternative path. Your life will look different sometimes from your peers, but that is okay.” Because I committed to music as the focus of my life from a young age, I had a different teenage experience. I missed out on a lot of so-called benchmarks of teenhood, but I also was gifted with some unique experiences as well. FOMO can hurt, but that’s just because comparison is a direct path to suffering. Who needs that?
“You cannot play anyone else’s role, and no one can play your role.” Music is like a fingerprint, we all love and connect with it in our own unique way, forged from our heritage and personal experiences.
“Learn to love the parts of yourself that people don’t understand.” It can be really challenging in a field where a lot of your job is to create “fans” to not become a people pleaser. I am definitely still trying to kick those tendencies. But the more we box ourselves in, the less there is of us to love. I believe our greatest beauty lies in our eccentricities.
“If you think it’s too deep, too personal, too raw, that’s when you should put it in the song. Follow that.” I used to limit myself more lyrically. I’d think, “No, you can’t put that line in, that detail will make people know what it’s about”. But now, I just write the song. I put all the details in. And then I decide whether to share it, but no matter what, if I feel myself wanting to write it, I write it.
“The music industry feels different than the music feels.” This was a hard lesson learned. Music seems so benevolent and expressive. You go to a concert and feel connected to the audience and the beautiful, benevolent musicians onstage. But the music industry is far more cynical and merciless. It was a bummer when I first realized how little about what happens in the industry is about music, and how much is about money and power. But I think there’s a positive way to look at it. The ceaseless trials of the music industry are a testament to what people are willing to go through for the goodness of music-making. Because music is just that good, that it’s worth it.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I think of the work I do as energy transfers. If I constantly give my energy away, I burn out quickly. So it’s important for me to schedule a time to receive energy back. The best method for this for me personally, is live audiences. Particularly house shows or Sofar crowds can be so energizing, that I walk away feeling refreshed and fulfilled. I also find creative work and songwriting to be energizing like that.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I’m a big believer in writing what you know and following your passion. I’ve found myself writing a lot about women’s issues because I’ve had so many formative experiences that have made me feel really driven to speak on it. I think if I can help combat some patriarchal values with my music if I can make women feel like they can be strong and emboldened, and I can allow men a space to be soft and vulnerable, that’ll be work I’m really proud of.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I would have to say my parents. They’ve been so incredibly supportive since the beginning, coming to every show and helping me out in any way that they can. My dad can be seen at every gig wearing my merch shirt, and he does really great work diligently plugging my every event on social media. He also helps roadie, and once again, taught me guitar! My mom helps with the managerial role and even sings backup vocals sometimes on full band shows! They’ve both driven my band around while touring, I mean truly, they couldn’t be more giving. I’m incredibly lucky to have them.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Here’s one that I just thought of two days ago, and I’ve been repeating to myself a lot since. “If you make a mountain out of a molehill, you’ve still made a mountain”. As an artist, I give a lot of power to what inspires me. A lot of my writing comes from taking little things and making them huge. In order to make art that’s impactful, I leave myself open to be impacted at almost all times, rendering me vulnerable. Sometimes being an artist can mean sending relentless energy and care towards a world that may not give it back. But all that matters is that it’s out there.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

I would love to share a meal with Bob Dylan. Even if he’s aloof and speaks in riddles, that would still be unspeakably meaningful to me. I think he’s a real-life superhero, he has superpowers beyond our understanding. He’s my favorite storyteller.

How can our readers follow you online?

I’m on Instagram, Twitter @calista_music, Facebook as Calista Garcia Music, and Youtube, and I have a website:

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success! - Authority Magazine

"Calista Garcia - "New Classic""

While checking up on Takamine friend and favorite Calista Garcia, we ran across her freshly posted home performance of Nancy Wilson’s “You Don’t Know” from the jazz singer’s 1964 album How Glad I Am. We had to ask the 19-year-old singer-songwriter from Arlington, VA how she was familiar with this 50+ year-old Grammy-winning classic. “I was riding in the car listening to Sirius XM Sinatra station," she replied. “The song came on and I nearly jumped out of my skin. I’m a huge Nancy Wilson fan now!”

If you’ve never heard the song “You Don’t Know”, Calista's version is as fresh a serving as you’ll find. Accompanied only by her EF341SC from Takamine’s Legacy Series played in perfectly muted fashion, Calista respectfully approaches the scatty melody written to be sung, and sings it with ease and feeling, making the old song a new favorite. But killer covers of classics do not define Calista Garcia. Her debut EP Wild Woman was nominated for "Best Roots/Country EP" at the 18th Annual Independent Music Awards, shining a well-deserved spotlight on Garcia’s sophisticated songwriting, and setting the stage for more to come.

Calista’s first Takamine, an EF740SGN (first cousin to the current EF261S) was a Christmas present when she was 13. “I've written over 100 songs on that original baby," she recounts. “I've written 41 so far on ‘Odele’, the EF341SC, since getting her last October." And while Takamine would love to take some credit for Garcia’s prolificacy, the following home performance clip of "Under the Magnolia Tree", with its perfectly relevant refrain, “I’ll meet you there when things turn out OK," led us to suspect the gifted songstress may have written just as many great songs on piano.

Regardless, when it comes to helping channel Calista Garcia’s timeless talent, Takamine is proud to be in there anywhere. Keep up with Calista and her music at her web site. - Takamine Guitars


Debut 5 song EP "Wild Woman" released April 26, 2019. Available on all outlets.



Folk-rock singer-songwriter Calista Garcia brings flairs of Latin, blues, roots and pop. As seen on Season 16 of NBC’s The Voice, her “New Classic” style hearkens back to ’70s classic acts such as Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell, but with a fresh modern twist.

Calista released her second EP called A Beautiful World on October 29 ,2021, mixed by Grammy Award-winning producer, Jim Scott in his vintage-equipped LA studio. This record is a follow-on to her debut collection “Wild Woman”, released in April 2019 to much critical acclaim, garnering a nomination for “Best Roots/Country EP” in the 2020 Independent Music Awards. The project has also won multiple nominations and awards from International Acoustic Music Awards (IAMA), the International Songwriting Competition (ISC) and the Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest (MASC).

A prolific songwriter who plays guitar, piano, ukulele, bass, mandolin and harmonica, Calista is a 2022 Kerrville New Folk Winner, the 2022 Songwriter’s Association of Washington Young Artist of the Year, 2022 winner of 2 DC Area “Wammies” music awards (Best folk song & artist), a 2021 Chris Austin Songwriting Finalist at Merlefest, a 2021 “She is the Music Foundation” Connect TogetHER Songwriting Fellow, the 2020 National YoungArts Gold Winner in Voice/Singer-Songwriter (top prize), a 2020 Johnny Mercer Songwriting Project Fellow, a 2019 Strathmore Artist in Residence, a 2017 & 2018 Berklee Performance Showcase Winner, the 2017 Bernard Ebbs Young Songwriter of the Year and a two-time Grammy Foundation Young Songwriter Program Artist.

Band Members