Getting to Know: A/V aficionado hits all the right notes

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January 10, 2017

Wherever there is a Wayne State University event, you will find Dan Gamlin working behind the scenes.

With more than 20 years at the WSU Libraries in various audio/visual and special events roles, Gamlin has solidified his place in the A/V field. He’s also a product of Wayne State, graduating as a Tartar in 1996 with a bachelor’s in radio, television and digital communication.

But when Gamlin isn’t perfecting the sound and visual aids for WSU, he’s amplifying his own band, Groove Fellowship. Groove Fellowship was formed three years ago out of a musical relationship that began at Gamlin’s church along with his bandmates Shari Gamlin (vocals), Kevin Jackson (lead guitar), Lem Joyner (drums) and Lorenzo Veal (vocals). With Gamlin performing lead vocals and playing bass, the band puts out a mixture of gospel, jazz, funk and soul. 

“We want to fill the musical gap that appeals to the jazz, gospel and R&B lover,” Gamlin, 46, said. “There aren’t a lot of places you can go in the metro area to hear original, good live music anymore.”

As the band continues to build its fan base, Groove Fellowship plays at bars, coffee houses and community festivals throughout the Detroit area. The band performs monthly at Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, located on Woodward and Alexandrine. The next performance will take place on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 7:30 p.m. The group began recording their second album during Christmas break and will push to have it done by spring.

Gamlin cites an eclectic mix of musical influences such as Stevie Wonder, The Police, John Coltrane and others.

“My influences can come from anywhere,” Gamlin said. “I’ll switch up to Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince and James Brown. On the gospel side, there’s Fred Hammond, and The Clark Sisters, and then I might find influence from Devo because they were able to go to a different place.”

Gamlin’s love of music began at age 9 when he started playing the cello at school. It wasn’t his first instrument of choice. He wanted to play the upright bass, but a couple of his friends beat him to it.

“So I ended up playing other instruments such as the drums and guitar, and I wrote poetry in middle school,” Gamlin said. “Poetry was a simple transition to lyrics. I considered myself a songwriter. When I was younger, I just wanted to aspire to be an artist. I wasn’t sure which avenue I was going to go. I always liked writing, drawing … it was always in that vein of creativity.”

But throughout it all, Gamlin always heard the bass in every piece of music. It wasn’t until he turned 30 that he finally got to play the bass for good.

Gamlin’s many years of service with the libraries also has helped shape him in multiple ways with his band. He applies his technical expertise to set up the band’s sound system at shows. He has also become more thorough in making sure that they’re using quality, reliable equipment.

“I’m able to utilize all these skills with my band. I enjoy doing sound too, so that just carries right over into what I do,” he said.

Where many might consider it cumbersome to set up and take down all of their own equipment for each show, Gamlin doesn’t mind. “Showing up at a gig, having to set up speakers, microphones, hauling amps out of the car and setting them up quickly is a regular thing for me — it’s no big deal,” he said.

The countless hours Gamlin spends practicing and performing with Groove Fellowship have turned him into a perfectionist when it comes to working for the libraries. “When I have a gig, I make sure the band has rehearsed and we don’t look like we’re up there for the first time,” said Gamlin.

He applies the same standard at work.

“Special events are a one-time deal. You have to check the equipment and make sure it’s going to function properly,” he said. “I apply the principles of performing to the job. I want to make sure that everything is going to work well.”

Photo credit: Vincent Roberts, senior graphic designer, Wayne State University Libraries.