Dallan Baumgarten

2011 – Bird’s Nest

Raised in Peoria, Illinois, Dallan has been playing guitar since 5th grade (after having dallied with the tenor saxophone). He has studied electric, acoustic and classical guitar with an emphasis on funk, rock, rhythm and blues and odd meter. As a freshman in high school, a fabled basement audition landed Dallan a spot as lead vocalist in his very first band, Believer. Believer played a wide variety of covers ranging from the Monkees to Black Sabbath, and also featured Dallan’s first guitar hero; his brother, Darrin.

A new band, solo acoustic performances and open mike nights followed while attending college, as well as playing electric guitar in the University of Illinois Basketball Jazz Band. Playing directly on the basketball court to the roar of 15,000 basketball fans was extremely exciting. Not only did it mean the best seat in the house for every U of I home game, but it also gave Dallan his first taste of national television exposure as a musician. After winning Peoria’s Best Guitarist Contest in 1990 and feeling the call of the music biz, there was no turning back. Dallan took his BFA in Graphic Design and relocated to Los Angeles to pursue the ever-intriguing life of a musician.

First stop was Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, where Dallan studied at the Guitar Institute of Technology and taught very briefly after graduating. While still in school, he was asked to participate in a Warner Reprise Video called “Guitar”. This small step into the spotlight saw him performing on-stage with a backing band consisting of John Entwistle (The Who), Aynsley Dunbar (Journey), Brian Setzer (Stray Cats), Billy Burnette (Fleetwood Mac) and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers). Gigging in Southern California clubs, recording demos and paying dues followed while learning the ways of the industry.

Universal Studios Hollywood then put Dallan under contract as a singing, dancing, guitar playing Frankenstein in a rock show of monstrous proportions; Beetlejuice’s Rockin’ Graveyard Revue. Performing with elaborate costumes, six-inch heels, make-up and extreme amounts of pyrotechnics to thousands of people each day had a profound effect on Dallan. For all intents and purposes, his childhood fantasy of playing in KISS had at last been realized. When BRGR closed in 1999, after a four-year run, Dallan was tapped by USH to perform in the Blues Brothers show. He could be seen off and on singing and dancing as Elwood Blues for another four years. A bit of a breeding ground, many alumni of the BRGR show went on to perform in major Broadway productions and groups such as the Peter Criss band and Foreigner. Dallan’s next big break would not be far off.

In 1996 came a call from Terri Nunn about lending guitar and vocals to the multi-platinum band Berlin. This relationship led to a full-length studio record, two indie EPs, two remix records, two live albums and a concert DVD documenting the band’s stellar stage performance. Between recording sessions, Berlin continued to uphold a healthy touring schedule, dividing time between clubs, the shed circuit and year-round radio festivals. Lineups have included Interpol, Bare Naked Ladies, Duran Duran, Smash Mouth, The Cure, Culture Club and Jet. Some Berlin highlights were a show for 40,000 people in Atlanta with Hole, national tours with the Go-Go’s and The Psychedelic Furs, and several television appearances, including performing on Happy Hour (Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa’s show) and several VH1 specials. After a particularly rousing taping of “Versus” on the Comedy Central network, Rolling Stone magazine quoted Dallan proclaiming, “We are the ambassadors of kick-your-assador” (RS – 6/24/99). Berlin was also fortunate enough to have played some shows with long-time heroes Heart, featuring Ann and Nancy Wilson, Ben Smith (Lovemongers), Darian Sahanaja (Wondermints, Brian Wilson), Mike Inez (Alice In Chains, Ozzy Osbourne) and Gilby Clarke (Guns N’Roses). In 2004, after 8 years performing alonside Terri Nunn, Dallan made the difficult decision to mov e on to greener pastures (i.e. more money).

In 1997, Dallan was asked to join Restless Records recording act Chopper One, a post-punk power pop band featuring Jason Cropper of Weezer fame. Dallan came on board in time to record a new single, “A Punk Named Josh”. The song, produced by Jason Cropper and Steve Kravac (MXPX), and mixed by Jack Joseph Puig (Weezer, Goo Goo Dolls, The Black Crows, No Doubt) became the number one added radio single in Australia in May/June of 1998, beating out new releases from Smashing Pumpkins and Green Day. The hilarious music video for “Josh”, starring and directed by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, quickly saw more than 600 requests a week on the Box music television channel in America and regular rotation on Australia’s music video stations.

After parting ways with Restless, Chopper One broke up and Dallan and Jason began a new project called Fliptop. This punk/pop super group featured Josh Freese (A Perfect Circle, Guns N’Roses, Vandals, Devo) on drums and Scott Shiflett (Face to Face, Jackson United) on bass. Although a full-length album was recorded, only five of the fourteen tracks were mixed down (for demo purposes). Unfortunately, scheduling turmoil caused disbanding and the album was never released.

Dallan also contributed his guitar, bass and songwriting skills to Tweaker, the eclectic, electronic pop brainchild of Chris Vrenna, former drummer/programmer for Nine Inch Nails. Released in 2001 on Six Degrees, the album also features performances by Buzz (Melvins), David Sylvian, and Wayne Kramer (MC5), among others. A very bizarre and elaborate performance by the Tweaker collective was in the works for touring the U.S. when the September 11th disaster occurred, and was subsequently scrapped.

During a February 2000 tour of the states with Berlin, Dallan stumbled into a Scottsdale, AZ club called the Martini Ranch and witnessed his first performance by The Chadwicks. The friendship that followed led to a business proposition that would see Dallan traveling from Los Angeles to Phoenix every weekend he could manage, to play with their 80’s side project, Rock Lobster. Two years later, he joined The Chadwicks as well, and continues to play an average of 150 shows a year locally and nationally with both bands. The Chadwicks are sponsored by Miller Lite and continue to be a first choice to open for touring nationals. They’ve shared bills with the B-52’s, David Lee Roth, Sugar Ray, Dramarama, Collective Soul, The English Beat, Fuel, 311, The Roots and Hall & Oates, among others.

Increased duties with The Chadwicks resulted in Dallan relocating to Tempe, AZ in the Spring of 2004. He continued to play with Berlin for another six months following the move, but had no choice but to leave behind the other Los Angeles projects he’d been involved in. Industrial rock band Carbon 9 found a new guitarist and is still going strong. Big Love, on the other hand, ended up disbanding. Though the band never took off quite like Dallan had hoped, they did manage to place a song in the movie “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed” before calling it quits. If you haven’t seen it, be sure to check out the DVD. Freddie Prinze Jr.’s very sad and introspective scene as Fred sitting behind the wheel of the Mystery Machine chatting with Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar) just wouldn’t be the same without those haunting guitar embellishments.

While theChadwicks show no signs of letting up, Dallan still has a few surprises up his sleeve. A brand new, special, super secret band is in the works for launch in the very near future. Keep your ears peeled.

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