Garrison Doles
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Garrison Doles

Orlando, Florida, United States

Orlando, Florida, United States
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Garrison Doles"

I first met Garrison Doles in Miami. I’d just gone through a pretty intense period, engineering a Kenny Loggins record and I was mostly just hanging around in the lobby at Criteria Studios a lot and hoping nobody would come along too soon and offer me another gig. Tom Dowd wandered down from his office looking for coffee and mentioned that if I wasn’t doing anything I might want to step into Studio C, cause there was some kid in there trading songs with Bobby Caldwell and it sounded like he was holding his own. Bobby had just had his big hit go to number one and he was under contract for two more records but not moving too fast, like maybe his muse was taking some time off. I thought it was probably a good thing that he had somebody putting him through his paces.

Looked like most of Criteria was hanging around in C, with Garrison in a folding chair in the middle of the studio, hunched over that beat up old D28. One of his simple, haunting ballads was in the air and nobody moved or even seemed to be breathing. When he came to the end of the song he looked up and was kind of surprised to see all these people standing around. He reached over and grabbed that lit Marlboro that was always stuck in the head strings of his guitar and took a hit and blew it out, saying “let’s go get a beer.” So we did.

I found out he was scratching out some kind of a living hustling nineball in the afternoons in the strip joints on 7th Avenue and playing bars in Coconut Grove and Islamorada and Hallandale at night. He wasn’t sleeping, wasn’t eating, smoked too much, drank too much. He was writing a lot though, he was always working on honing these powerful songs till they were sharp enough to shave with and then taking them into some smoky bar and trying to win over a crowd that really just came in to drink and get laid. I hated to see his stuff getting wasted like that cause he’s always been such a great player and such a great songwriter but back then it just seemed like there was nowhere for him to go and no way to get there. I was able to bring him in, from time to time, to fix somebody’s lyrics or tighten up the structure but he never got any credit for any of that and he hardly ever even got paid.

I got called out to L.A. to produce a Crosby, Stills and Nash album and ended up moving here permanently. But any time I get back to the east coast or really anywhere in the country where Garrison’s playing, I always gather up a few folks and take them out to see him do that thing he does. He plays a lot of private house concerts and some of the cooler listening rooms and every now and then he breaks out on to a bigger stage. His show is always a rare and wonderful event, just him and his guitar and harmonica. People just know something special’s going on - a lot of laughing and crying and being real still in the moment. It’s like in these years of traveling and writing and playing he’s settled deeper into the mastery of performance, the mystery of songmaking. The turn of phrase, the pulling tempo beneath the dragging beat, the telling of that small important moment of your life. Each song, each story, is its own time and place and then you find they’ve worked together to describe a larger time and place like DNA or quantum mechanics. But I think I’ve gone too far now, for sure. Steve Gursky
- Steve Gursky


Whenever I'm With You
This Man's Heart
The Night Of Heaven and Earth



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2010 Official Showcase artist - Folk Alliance Region Midwest (FARM) Conference
2010 Official Showcase artist - Southeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference
2009 Official Showcase artist - Southwest Regional Folk Alliance Conference
2009 Fast Pitch Showcase artist - Southeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference

Songwriting Competitions:

2011 Songwriter Serenade Songwriting Contest 2nd place
2010 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest Silver Medal
2009 Rose Garden Coffeehouse Performing Songwriter Contest 1st place
2009 Will McLean Folk Festival Songwriting Contest 1st place
2008 Dallas Songwriters Association Contest - Singer/songwriter 1st place
2008 North Carolina Songwriters Co-op Contest 3rd place
2007 Woody Guthrie Song Contest honorable mention
2007 Foundersfest Song Contest finalist
2006 South Florida Folk Festival finalist
2005 South Florida Folk Festival finalist
2004 Gamble Rogers Folk Festival Song Contest 1st place
2003 Gamble Rogers Folk Festival Song Contest 2nd place
2003 Suwannee Springfest Songwriting Contest 1st place

“I’m not foolin' around here. If I walk out on your stage I mean to do some serious damage.”

Garrison has recently won major songwriting competitions in North Carolina, Texas, Florida and Massachusetts and he’s on the move, touring nationally and performing at all the best festivals, coffeehouses and house concerts.

If you call yourself a performing songwriter, then you ought to hold up both ends of the deal. Garrison truly does. He writes powerful songs of all kinds - moving, funny, profound, romantic, light-hearted - and he delivers them with immense skill and unforgettable style and grace. It’s an inspired marriage of artist and material, and it always results in an exciting and entertaining journey for the audience. What Garrison Doles brings is so deep and wide that only your heart is big enough to hold it.

Legendary Crosby, Stills and Nash producer Steve Gursky says:
“Garrison Doles is one of the most talented songwriters and performers I’ve ever worked with. He really knows how to put words and music together in a way that makes the story come alive. And he totally fills the role of performing songwriter. Great singer, guitar wizard and truly entertaining storyteller. Never pass up a chance to see this master at work.”

Garrison’s latest CD release, Whenever I’m with You, showcases some of the range and depth of his songwriting. Like a great, live set it moves seamlessly through stories poignant, romantic, humorous, raucous, bluesy, sorrowful and inspiring. He brings the full force of a master performer to bear. On this studio release, Garrison joins his evocative voice, guitar and harmonica with the best players in the Southeast and they kick butt. Tom Hurst, Doug Mathews, Tracy Collins, Jim Evans, Chris Nix, Jason Thomas, Lis Williamson and Greg Doles. It’s made to be listened to from start to finish and when you get to the end you’ll be happy to just let it start all over again.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Garrison moved to Miami, Florida, at the age of nine - AAAHH!! Culture shock. At about seventeen, he started playing his original songs in coffeehouses in Coconut Grove’s blossoming folk music scene. After the Grove settled down, there were a lot of years of traveling around the southeast playing in bars. It’s a rough life and it finally wore him down, so he stopped doing that and stepped out onto another stage. As a co-founder of Theatre Downtown, an off-off-Broadway style theatre in Orlando, Florida, he produced, acted, directed, designed and wrote for the theatrical stage. It’s all storytelling. In recent years he has built an impressive following, playing at folk festivals, coffeehouses and house concerts. He has four independently released CD’s and tours full-time nationally as a performing songwriter.