The Fine Art Of Forget Me Not

One of the things I absolutely love about visiting the Jersey Shore is the way it is possible to see incredibly talented musicians playing at very close range in the local bars and clubs - none of your dot-on-the-horizon stuff here!

Singer/songwriter Dargis falls into the above category. His recently-released album, "The Fine Art Of Forget Me Not," has already received very complimentary reviews from some of New Jersey's most respected music writers. The album is striking for its sincerity and was clearly produced from the heart of someone with a focus on exactly what he wanted to do. The end result is a collection of exceptionally well-written songs crafted with catchy, haunting melodies that will infiltrate your senses in a very short time.

Dargis kindly took time out of his hectic schedule to answer a few questions about himself, as well as his new album.

Could I please begin by asking you to tell me a little bit about yourself? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Elizabeth NJ, lived there till I was 12. Moved to Hazlet (down the Shore!) and lived there for 10 years. Moved to Red Bank in 1990.

Were you in a band at school?

I was a senior in high school when I had my first band. We were in the school paper and got picked on subsequently.

When did you first realize that becoming a musician was what you wanted to do?

Not sure. I think I always wanted to play music. But around my early 20s, that was when I knew I needed to play. I had been putting in so much to my bands, that I knew there was no way I could quit. I said, 'this is what I'm going to do.'

What is your principle instrument?

My instrument is the guitar.

Who inspired you to take this up and did you have formal tuition?

Ace Frehley of Kiss was surely a huge influence. Rick Neilsen of Cheap Trick. I'm always taking lessons. When I was a kid, I walked maybe five miles to my guitar lesson.

But I also learned a lot from other players. Listening to a great song is an education in itself.

You have dedicated your new CD to the memory of Joey Ramone. How much of an influence was he on your decision to become a singer/songwriter?

It was tremendous. I still go nuts for the Ramones. I had been digging bands like Zep, Stones, and Queen. The Ramones, like Kiss, seemed to be outcasts when I think back. It was hard to find people who liked them. So I remember listening to the Ramones in my room and being so connected. "Rock and Roll High School" blew my mind. All that early R&R of the 50's and 60's. It's everything.

To date, whose music/songwriting has influenced you most?

I find Joe Jackson to be quite incredible. And Elvis Costello. These guys follow their hearts into whatever they're currently digging or always wanted to do. It's their freedom I admire. Do what you love, regardless of how unpopular it might be. John Lennon, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon ... where do I stop?

How long have you been part of the New Jersey music scene?

All my life.

Which bands have you previously been a member of?

Going back ... I played guitar for Glueneck. Started Happysad to get more pop ideas going. They were both loud bands and usually quite drunk. These bands lasted a few years each. I was always getting together with friends to play "British Invasion" type stuff and pure AM radio tunes. I learned a lot from these songs. How much I adore songs under 3 minutes.

I joined Gretna Greene in the late 90's. I played bass. We played Country music ... kind of like Byrds, Camper Van Beethoven, Chills, Dylan, Gram Parsons, V.U., etc. This was great experience. Simply stated songs and melodies. This band made a lasting impression on me. We drank lots too!

Have you got a favourite place you like to play?

I'm still looking.

Is "The Fine Art Of Forget Me Not" your first CD? What inspired the title?

Yes, "The Fine Art Of Forget Me Not" is my first solo album. I don't know how to explain the title. It's a line from "Dangerous."

Would you like to tell me briefly about the inspiration behind each of the songs?

Um, love is usually the inspiration. How to obtain it, keep it. There are two very open love songs on there. The others are a little sadder. Break up songs. Some about growing up.

Do you have a favorite track on the album?

No, I don't think I have a favorite. They all have certain qualities. Some things I would do differently today. The songs come from places in your head and heart that you can't hold back. They're your songs, for better or worse.

I've listened to this album several times and one of the things that impressed me most is its extremely high level of quality and I mean that in every aspect - the lyrics, the melodies, the recording/production as well as the musicians accompanying you. You must be very proud of your achievement so could you tell me a little about how the project came together and how long it took? Also, did you ever get to a stage where you felt like it was never going to happen?

Thanks, Maggie. Really. It was scary going out on my own. It was also exciting. I didn't have a moniker or set band style to keep inside of. It was a big step. I've always had other guys to help make decisions.

Once I left Gretna Greene, I knew I had to do my own thing. I couldn't be limited or feel held back by people and, if I failed, then it would be because of me. It took close to two years to write and record, and money was tight as far as studio time was concerned.

Sometimes I felt like it couldn't be completed. Just getting the right takes and personnel in there was hard. I remember equipment breaking down ... and being unsure of all kinds of stuff.

Are the musicians who accompany you local New Jersey guys?

Yes, all local boys. Matt O'Ree (guitar), Clint Gascoyne (drums) and bassist Brian Dougherty.

Where can people purchase a copy of the CD and how much does it cost?

It costs $13.99 and is available at all CD World stores in New Jersey, Jack's Music, 30 Broad Street, Red Bank (732 842-0731) and Vintage Vinyl, Fords Shopping Plaza, Route 1 North (732) 225-7717.

It's also available online at http://www.cdbaby.com/dargis.

Where can people see you perform some of the songs from "The Fine Art Of Forget Me Not"?

I have a monthly solo acoustic residency at No Ordinary Joe's, 51 Broad Street, Red Bank, 732-530-4040.

And finally, where can people find out details about your schedule?

My website: www.dargisongs.com.

Sincere thanks to Dargis for his cooperation and I'd like to take this opportunity of wishing him the very best of luck with his new CD.

Maggie Powell
Hi, I'm Maggie Powell, a Scottish expatriate now living near Hannover, Germany. My interest in the New Jersey music scene began the very first time I heard Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run" and I simply couldn't begin to explain how many proverbial doors that song has opened for me since then. Suffice to say it's been a great trip! Living in a country where English is not the native language certainly is challenging, particularly as the French and Russian I learned at school are about as useful here as a chocolate teapot! But when the going gets tough, I just switch on my computer and rattle away on my keyboard. For the last few years, I have been contributing material to "The Ties That Bind," the UK Bruce Springsteen fan club magazine and this is something I enjoy very much. I've also had material published by Backstreets, as well as in some of the other major European Bruce Springsteen fan club magazines - they do a tremendous job of translating my articles into their own respective languages. I'm also a "Save Tillie" Board Member and this is a cause that lies very close to my heart. I've always regarded "Tillie" as a focal point for a much larger issue and firmly believe that ALL of Asbury Park's famous places and landmarks should be preserved for posterity. The city of Liverpool is a prime example of what can be achieved through having a successful music tourist industry and Asbury Park/Monmouth County can have the same, providing the people making the decisions for Asbury Park's future do not make any gross errors of judgment along the way. We can but hope.