Garden Club is a St. Petersburg a jazz-fusion quartet, but its drummer — 19-year-old Natalie Depergola — has been taught by all-time greats from several genres including hard-rock timekeeper Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath), Grammy-nominated gospel composer Brent Easton, and even the late John Blackwell. The Tampa Bay drummer most famous for his decade-long tenure in Prince‘s band New Power Generation died at age 41, but not before he could leave a huge impact on Depergola.
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“John [Blackwell] has impacted my ability to play 150-percent… I’m grateful to John for everything he taught me,” she once said.
At the age of 15, Depergola, who has been playing since she was six years old, was already in several rock, swing and jazz bands. She even occasionally gigged on a vintage kit that supposedly belonged to hard-bop jazz guru Art Blakey, whose 1950s group — The Jazz Messengers — was an incubator for young talent like Branford Marsalis, Wayne Shorter and Chuck Mangione. Regardless of whether that Blakey story is true, Depergola is easily one of the most promising, and ambitious, young talents making music in Tampa Bay.
“I’m truly happiest when I’m playing in more than a few projects,” Depergola said in 2014 before she found herself enrolled at St. Petersburg College’s Music and Recording Arts Program (SPC MIRA). Under the instruction of SPC instructors like Pat Hernly (a percussionist in breakout Bay area indie-pop band The Hip Abduction who has praised Depergola’s “excellent combination of pattern recognition and audio-motor feedback loop”) and saxophonist Austin Vickery, Depergola has explored different types of percussion while learning how to read, play, notate, and write music for the piano and other instruments.
All of it comes together in the many bands Depergola plays in, but it’s supremely fun to dig into her work with Garden Club, which is influenced by Los Angeles neo-soul trio Moonchild, Australian future-soul band Hiatus Kaiyote, inimitable American bassist Thundercat and Portland psych-rock outfit Unknown Mortal Orchestra. A new Garden Club album should be out before the end of this year.
Next show: Sugarshack Session IPA Release Party w/Garden Club/Honey Hounds/Alabama Rose. Fri. July 20, 8 p.m. No cover. Green Bench Brewing Co., 1133 Baum Ave. N, St. Petersburg. facebook.com/gardenclubmusic.