Live sound for T-Bone Daddy and ukeleles on the loo


Jacob Greenia

Chad Tarves pensively strums his guitar

JSC features a bevy of young and upstart musicians from all genres and backgrounds. Senior Chad Tarves, one of those upstarts, helps run his own recording studio and is currently working on releasing his music for his listeners to indulge in wherever they may roam.

24-year-old Tarves traces his musical roots to an early fondness for writing poetry. However, once he discovered rock artist Rob Thomas and that he could further develop his artistry through music, Tarves said his interest was piqued.

“Writing my own music stems back to when I started doing poetry,” Tarves said. “I started really listening to music in eleventh grade, so I was listening to Rob Thomas. He was probably the main reason why I picked up the guitar and really dove into songwriting. I’d say that’s probably what caused that.

“A little bit before I picked up a guitar, I performed for the first time singing in my senior year of high school,” he added. “It was a terrible performance, let me tell you. After that, I was sitting in my room over that summer between high school and college and I thought to myself, ‘Alright, I want to make some sort of music.’ So I started downloading music and different samples for a month. I said, ‘Alright, this isn’t working out.’ I called my friend and said that I wanted to buy a guitar and he said, ‘Alright, come over and I’ll show you how to do this stuff.’ So I finally bought the guitar right after high school when I was 18. I remember back when I was first picking up the guitar, I could not put it down and I haven’t put it down since.”

Tarves said he developed his self-described “folk-pop” songwriting style from smooth-voiced musicians such as Thomas and Jason Mraz, but with an earnest twist.

“At a recent performance I had, actually — I write kind of sad stuff, which is probably why I’ve been listening to a lot of Jason Mraz — a person said to me, ‘Your music is very raw.’ Meaning it’s really connected to your emotions,” Tarves continued. “It’s not fake and it’s not like you’re pushing it to make it seem like it’s there. It actually is there. This is why I write.”

Since picking up a guitar, Tarves began his educational journey at Berkshire Community College and studied at Berklee College of Music and Westfield State University before landing here at JSC to study a triumvirate of music concentrations.

Tarves has a busy schedule between jazz vocals, sound engineering and musical composition. Even so, he has still found the time to perform here at JSC, most recently in the Stearns Performance Space on Sep. 27. The show garnered Tarves an anonymous $60 donation to go to the recording studio in Dibden, for which Tarves extended many thank yous to the JSC staff who put together his performance, along with his girlfriend, Lindsey Smith.

“That went really well,” Tarves said. “I started planning it last semester. It kind of got pushed to this semester because of the convenience and the way things were going. I initiated that as an internship project from last year and I wanted to raise money for the recording studio over in Dibden. Because, even though we have some great equipment, we still need to upgrade more.

“It was also a chance for me to perform,” he added. “So I talked to Dennis Bathory-Kitsz and Will [Davis] about doing it, and they both helped me set it up. Kacy Hope also helped and was very important in that. We ended up setting it up for Sep. 27 and the concert went really, really well. We had about 16-18 people — for a college event, it was especially good — we would’ve had more but people had rehearsals and late-night classes.”

Tarves also recently obtained his street performer’s license and added Burlington to his growing list of street performances around the Northeast.

“I thought it was going to be a lot harder of a process than it actually was,” he added. “I ended up just going down to Burlington and did my performance, then they gave me my street performance license for $20. I have street performed in Washington, D.C., and North Hampton in Massachusetts.

“I do covers sometimes and I do originals, but what I really find that works in street performing is I usually just take a standard 12-part blues progression and what I do is start making up lyrics. I’ll be like, ‘I really like that sweatshirt you’re wearing today!’ It’s really hard to get your original music [out there]. I definitely prefer doing live concerts.”

In addition to his occasional street performances, Tarves runs a recording studio called CPT Sound Design in Pittsfield, Mass. He says building the studio and his skills has been a learning experience.
“About four years ago, me and my friend Peter — we were both going to BCC [Berkshire Community College] — said we wanted to do recording equipment,” said Tarves. “When you start recording your stuff, you should invest money into it and do this as a business. At first I was hesitant, but then I said, ‘We need to invest into this and something will come of it.’ You can’t just go into something and not invest something into it, then expect something to work out. It’s a lot more difficult.

“So we started purchasing recording equipment and then started purchasing live sound equipment,” he added. “After that, we started to do live sound. We first did live sound for T-Bone Daddy, which is a local blues band back home. It ended up being one of my teacher’s bands. They were great, because we were starting that learning curve on really understanding how to use this equipment. They led us through a little bit and we did our own research, we took some recording classes. I also had this teacher named Joe Rose who did live sound, too. He really helped me get understand how that worked. From there, we were able to start the business.”

Since the inception of CPT Sound Design, Tarves has worked with artists such as Misty Blues Band and nationally touring artist Matt Cusson.

As Tarves looks to the future, he hopes to upload some new songs to his YouTube page, is working on a new record, and is planning a new show for next semester at JSC.

“I am planning to do a concert next semester, too,” Tarves added, “which is hopefully going to be a Creative Audience. I’m currently getting that together. I’m working on writing some new stuff right now and all together just working on getting the older stuff out there. I’m currently going through a songwriter block, but I’m starting to come out of it a little.”

He currently has three songs up on his YouTube channel and Facebook page, both titled Chad Tarves Music. He recently uploaded the ukulele ballad “Dance with Me,” a lightly strummed campfire ode to late night dances in driveways. According to Tarves, the song originated in an unlikely place.

“Sometimes I’ll be doing something and all of a sudden this idea will just pop into my head and it’s just this melodic line,” said Tarves. “Sometimes it’s the chords that inspire it and sometimes an event with lyrics come out first. Recently, I was writing this song called ‘Dance with Me,’ which I have a video on my [Facebook] page of it, and I was in the bathroom taking care of business and this melody line popped up. I said, ‘That’d be a fun ukulele song!’ After I washed my hands, I wrote that song.”