SHORT bio/blurb: 

From her Berkeley childhood to her Cambridge cutting-of-teeth to her NYC adventures to her San Francisco sidewalk sessions, Rachel Garlin has toured internationally and has spent the quarantine cultivating poetry, activism, and compassion in her community. With her vintage Gibson J50 guitar, Rachel devoted the month of February to writing a new song each day and sharing the creative process--spontaneous and vulnerable. Rachel’s Sidewalk Sessions (playing music for her neighborhood alongside her wife and three kids at the front of their garage), caught the attention of the San Francisco Chronicle and former Rolling Stone Editor Ben Fong-Torres on his MoonAlice radio station. Rachel is currently touring with her 2021 release, The State That We Are In.  

Longer bio

A laché is an athletic feat of movement: a leap of belief that involves gathering momentum while swinging on something, and then releasing into mid-air. Gymnasts do it, lemurs do it, and singer-songwriters do it, at least metaphorically, every time they swing and release a new song into the world.  

San Francisco’s Rachel Garlin—a nimble writer who favors in-the-moment songwriting over formulaic composition—learned both the term and the skill of laché-ing while training over the past year to compete as a rookie on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior. While this particular debut came as a surprise to music fans at first, Garlin’s coming out as a ninja athlete quickly became an easy complement to her work as an artist where the act of staying balanced within a community of fellow artists and obstacle-navigators has always been part of the gig. 

Originally from Berkeley, CA, Garlin learned about folk music early and received an enduring gift from her dad: a Gibson J-50 guitar that’s been her companion for seven studio albums and a live album drawn from two nights headlining at the historic Freight and Salvage in her hometown. Her 2021 EP, The State That We Are In, came as a quick laché-leap from her 2020 LP, Mondegreens, which earned praise from the San Francisco Chronicle, Americana Highways, Curve Magazine and publications that also recognized her work in the community as a songwriting mentor for in-risk kids and an activist in the movement to close Juvenile Hall.  

The State That We Are In features four COVID-era originals, plus a singular cover of “Layla,” a solo rendition that flips the script on Clapton’s iconic recording and exists as a musical nod to Garlin’s wife of the same name. After a string of sold-out shows on the East Coast, Garlin got the attention of John Platt from WFUV radio in New York who commented that “Rachel makes it look effortless with her accessible melodies, but dig deeper into her lyrics (like "crash course in chagrin") and you realize she's creating poetry in relatable human situations."  

In both music and these ninja games, it takes flexibility, strength, and a certain amount of courage to let go of something without knowing where or how it will land. With The State That We Are In, Garlin released her preconceived notions of what an album should sound like and instead focused on the process — the creative work and remote collaboration with producer Jonny Flaugher (Dan Bern) in LA and mixing engineer Veronica Ferraro (Emily Saliers) in Paris.  

Around the same time, Garlin wrote and shared a new song every day of February, hoping to inspire fans to explore their own creative impulses and “keep the channel open,” a concept Garlin lives by and teaches (from choreographer Martha Graham). All the songs on The State That We Are In sprang from a well of authentic impulses to create. The ballad “Some Weights Are Heart to Bear” has a deep and haunting air, whereas the title track serves as biting commentary on current American politics including gerrymandering and climate change. Producer Flaugher’s multi-dimensional arrangements strike up chemistry with Garlin’s literary lyrics and conviction-filled vocals, allowing for a provocative walk through songs both personal and political.   

After it’s June 25th release, Garlin played a series of sold-out shows in Boston, New York, Philly, and Asbury Park, NJ. On stage, Garlin combines a warm stage presence with songs and stories related to her work as an artist, athlete and activist in her own community and beyond. Just like with the laché, it’s all about building momentum and trusting the process along the way.