Jessica DaSilva Garrett is a relentless artist. She’s the frontwoman of folk group Só Sol, a jewelry maker and owner of DaSilva Studios and a high school art teacher. Her artistic outlets demonstrate themes of nature, powerful women, love, struggle and animals.
“Both areas of output have a kind of vibrant imagery that stylistically ties them together,” Jessica said.
Her home studio in Reno is filled with sketch pads, tools, colored powders and lacquers. She cuts everything by hand and uses a large magnifying glass to paint ornate pieces of art. Each design is driven by functionality and often custom for clients’ individual preferences.
“I think about who will wear them and how I want the piece to make them feel,” she said. “I have designs for people I hope to meet, or people who have passed and would have appreciated them.”
To Jessica, the challenge of being an artist is to give oneself interesting assignments with just enough parameters to remain focused, but open enough to allow exploration.
Paving a road with diamonds
Music has been essential to Jessica from an early age. She couldn’t fall asleep as a child without hearing her father sing a Brazilian lullaby.
“It was about wishing you could own this road so you could pave it with diamonds and entice your love to walk upon it.”
When her father started working night shifts, her mother was left to learn the lyrics, despite knowing Portuguese only as a second language.
Her uncle was a great musician and lent her a top-notch silver trumpet to use in middle school band.
“I quit because playing it hurt my face,” Jessica said. “I didn’t write music until I wrote a song for John.”
She and her husband, John Garrett, went to high school together in Massachusetts. They stayed in contact after graduation. One night, John called and asked if she wanted to attend a concert his band was playing in a neighborhood close to where she lived. She obliged, and shortly after they combined forces.
The first Só Sol show featured both the song Jessica wrote for John and her father’s lullaby. Their upright bassist, Dylan Coleman, was also a high school friend and travels to perform with them when their schedules align.
“Songwriting and jewelry-making both happen in our home and can go with us when we visit new places,” Jessica said. “Being a two-person operation made sure of this.”
An unexpected home
The twosome ended up in Reno on a whim.
“We had plans to move from Cambridge, Mass. to Northern Arizona to tend a fruit orchard and revive an art gallery belonging to a man John worked for in the past,” Jessica said in a soft and rhythmic speaking voice. “When that did not go as planned, a friend said we’d like Reno and they should move. And we did. And we do.”
They immediately found a place in Reno’s music scene and added another branch on an ever-growing musical tree. On stage she sings beautifully while perched atop a wooden box stomping percussion or playing banjo.
One of the purest tests of beautiful and powerful music is the ability to connect with the listener even in a different language. Só Sol performs songs in multiple languages, and the stories and emotion are always translated immediately.
“Reno has been extremely welcoming,” Jessica said. “I appreciate how much the music scene revolves around people supporting and nurturing each other and showing up for live music from a wide range of genres.”
She stressed there are a lot of great venues in Reno that make it easy to want to spend your time and money to see good music.
Fun Fact: Jessica was a founding member of Providence Roller Derby in Providence, Rhode Island, New England’s first all-female, flat-track roller derby team. Her derby name was DaSilva Bullet and according to Wikipedia, she was a “jammer/blocker phenom.”
Tony Contini is a photographer, videographer and writer focused on all things music. He’s had his finger on the pulse of Reno’s music scene for over a decade. He graduated from UNR with a degree in journalism and has since worked for newspapers, magazines, photo studios and as a freelance photographer and videographer. Aside from concert coverage, album reviews and music video production, his schedule is filled with weddings, portraiture and event coverage.