by Amy McGarry, photo by Matthew O. Stephens
Listening to the songs of Dario Ré: and his band Heat Speak for the first time was love at first hear. To call the music beautiful is an understatement. But it was in the lyrics that I found a soulful symphony of poetry that spoke to my spirit and literally took my breath away. After hearing the first song, Chippy Lean Grass, I was drawn in by the sirens’ calling to listen to every other song I could find. I couldn’t get enough.
The more I listened, the more I felt my heart swell and warm. Transported to another place, I was drawn back only by a compulsion to jot down especially profound lyrics. This masterful poet was singing the words I felt but couldn’t articulate myself. “I’ve made room for the dozens of you. Leave your boots at the door.”
Indie folk singer/songwriter Dario Ré: has roots, both figuratively and literally, running deep in Spokane. He lives next door to his mom in the house where he grew up on Corbin Park. They’ve combined properties to make the multi-generational permaculture site they call the Mystic Homestead, enriched by his children, pets, and his partner Jessica.
The Mystic Homestead is also where Dario and his family cultivate a prolific urban garden, which he considers an extension of his art practice.
“We’re creating a sanctuary,” Ré: says, which includes chickens, bees, countless varieties of perennial and annual vegetable and flowers, berries, fruit trees, and this year, a whopping 555 heads of garlic.
I asked Dario what they do with so much food.
“We eat it!” he laughs, noting the intergenerational nature of his home and his extended community in which resources are shared and gifted.
The Mystic Homestead is also where he and his band of rotating members write, rehearse and record. Most recently, it is where Dario wrote, produced, engineered, and mixed his third full-length studio album Holy Moon. This new collection was released in May, followed by a well-received 10-day West Coast tour that Dario described as “intense and very rewarding.”
“Sleeping in the same room with six of my favorite people and playing music every night for a room full of fresh ears was an incredible feeling and a very bonding experience for the band. It wasn’t without its challenges, but I look forward to scaling up and doing it again.
The Holy Moon CD includes 13 new songs. and a 16-page lyric booklet featuring beautifully risqué and artful photography of Dario and Jessica shot by local artist Ira Gardener. Holy Moon follows in the wake of two previously released studio albums: Aspen Artichoke (2017) and To Love Wind (2021). However, Ré’s website is a treasure cove of singles, EPs, videos, and other recordings all of which are available by donation to “patrons” who contribute a monthly amount of their choice in “support of his methodology and Being.” The landing page reads, “becoming a patron asks you to trust my process as an artist and support me holistically to help regulate the financial ebb and flow of creating big projects. Of course I give you things in return but that’s not the point—it’s transactional. Think of this more in the realm of gift and community.”
Unlike so many singers and musicians, Dario’s youth didn’t include dreams of playing music professionally. Music and art were always simply a part of his life. Dario’s father is a local musician who leads the Front Porch Trio.
“I grew up in that world. My father sang to me every night,” Dario explains. “My mom took me to art shows and museums, and my sister played piano. Music and art were always around; it felt like a part of life for me. I was always drawing as a kid and would also sit down to emulate my sister on piano which were some of my earliest improvisations.”
After graduating from high school, Dario elected to pursue an integration of his art and his love for the natural world in his undergraduate studies at Fairhaven College in Bellingham. He designed his own degree program called Visual and Natural Culture: Art and Ethnobotany. Dario would go on to complete a Masters in Art History from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.
Dario’s mom sent him off to college with her guitar and when he needed a break from his studies, Dario found himself picking up the guitar as a way to relax.
Music was a mere side hobby until a life event led him to an “aha” moment. In 2008, Dario sold his car and went backpacking through Europe with a guitar, where he found himself immersed in writing. He would sit in a town square or park and just write. At the end of his trip, his journal revealed 12 to 15 finished songs. That was the “aha.”
Dario had discovered a way to communicate in a heart-opening way. Putting words to music, a medium he describes as “visceral and universal,” had provided a new forum for expression: “a catalyst to carry the poetry.”
Yet, for Dario, the integration of his artistic pursuits are ever present. He continues to create visual art. He’s been working on a series of paintings and mixed media pieces for the last year or so that he hopes will take form this fall/winter after the growing season.
“The language and aesthetics of visual art very much informs my methodologies for writing, music, and even gardening.
At this point in his life’s journey, Dario feels most connected to the cosmos through writing.
“My most expressive realm is when I’m alone with my journal.”
When Dario asks himself “what am I offering the planet?” his answer keeps boiling back to writing.
And yet Dario is offering the planet, and more specifically, the Spokane community, so much more.
A self-taught musician with little formal training in music, he fills a niche teaching music people of all ages and backgrounds, many of whom (especially the youth) feel on the margins. Some of Dario’s students are on the spectrum and some are part of the LGBTQ community. Some struggle with traditional school. Some suffer from “music trauma.”
Dario never sought out any specific type of music student, but as a result of his being and through word of mouth, this is the learning community he’s attracted. He’s done this by creating a safe space for these students to “be vulnerable” and provides room for them to “find their voice, find their expression.” His teaching is oriented to the needs of each individual and because of the nature of music, the sessions provide as much therapy as learning.
I find the word “therapy” an apt depiction for more than his teaching, but for all of Dario’s artistic contributions. His gardening is therapy for the earth. His poetic music is therapy for the listener’s soul.
For access to a heart-moving listening adventure, I implore you to visit the links below and enjoy the music and poetry of Dario Ré and consider becoming a patron. If you are as compelled to see live performances as I am, Dario and Heat Speak have a full summer line-up. Dates and locations are listed below the links.
Dario Ré at Freedom at the Arboretum
Mon, Jul 4 @ 1:00PM
Finch Arboretum, Spokane, WA
Heat Speak at Summerfest
Sat, Jul 9
Heat Speak at Browne’s Addition Concert Series
Thu, Jul 21 @ 6:00PM
Coeur d’Alene Park, Spokane, WA