Silent Kit is my songwriting pseudonym. I’ve composed and recorded over 600 demo songs since 1996. Many of which were originally recorded under the name, “Donkey Boy USA,” and occasionally released for free on cassettes, cds, and eventually through the wild west of humanity known as the horribly beautiful world of wide web internets. Many of the songs are ideas and unfulfilled sketches, intentionally left as-is to piece together parts to in the hopes of returning to some of these demos one day with a full band and semi-professional studio time. Yawn. However, dreams are dead ends where I’m from—and we figure out that some day never happens if you don’t grasp the day and energy you’re living in right now.

I was born in Rockford, Illinois, and will most likely die in Rockford, Illinois, without ever being able to afford this particular creative outlet— one of many. Making music being the most expensive and risky to produce while trying to pay bills and raise a family in a selfish, corrupt town that rewards white collared criminals at every turn. The question is always the same, “Why don’t you move?”, and the answer is always the same, “I can’t afford to.”

Where else can life be this inspiring? This place builds character and births ideas at ease. Someone has to document the awful truths. I find my hometown to be a hotbed of creative energy, and I feed off of it… Even if it’s not the sort of inspiration that my personal headspace needs on any given day to manage or put on reserve for the right time to create. It took the first 35 years of life to figure out the on/off button.

I changed the silly working name of “Donkey Boy USA” to “Silent Kit” in late 2012 to allow for a formal, four-set, digital volume release at the encouragement of a few friends who aren’t from this poor village. The songs selected for that release, Volumes 1 – 4, 52 songs, were sequenced by a friend, collaborator, English professor, musician and writer, Cameron McGill. Songs selected feature feral productive periods in my young life. The songs’ outcomes are reflective of the times, and an overall lack of finances and technology available to me then (mid 1990s to early 2010s).

Bathroom handheld cassette recorders, answering machines, boomboxes, and eventually, upon owning my first computer in 2004, giving into cheap USB mics that gave way to other low-end amateur home recording devices that I saved years for to waste money on like an AKG Condenser Mic, a 15w Fender Amp, a Yeti Mic and MBox; which the latter doesn’t work anymore without a few software upgrades I can’t afford; thus, inviting the idea of new equipment that I don’t want to deal with learning how to use nor—again, the eternal creative problem—have the money for. Making music isn’t cheap. Life is all about making money, and creating art takes making money to document life. It’s a cruel dichotomy.

Along the way, peers / musicians decided that my songs were worth helping add performances and professional touches. Songs recorded after 2007 feature a plethora of artists contributing their talents, from studio time to performances to engineering and mixing. Those performers includes: Zach Staas, Mark Muraski, Daniel James McMahon, Barrett James, Mark Gustafson, Noah Harris, Charles Koltak, Andy Scarpaci, Jim Westin, Kevin Schwitters and more. Many of these creative agreements came with barter arrangements: ‘You do this for me and I’ll provide the art direction and BMW-like creative quality services for your band’s production and future record.’ It worked out well that way despite my end never figuring out how to earn a little money from my music. I gave up that notion when I learned how to write my own songs.

I continue to record songs under the new pseudonym as of late 2012, “Silent Kit,” and release them for free without hesitation or intents. Free downloads, a few dozen song videos, random releases and reviews by bored bloggers can found online if you do a little digging around the internet. I’ve included some of what I could dig up below. For now—see below, listen, read, download and share.


*** Zach Staas and Mark Muraski handled engineering and mixing on many songs recorded from 2007-2010. Mark Gustafson handled the engineering and recording / mix of the only live-performance band-session by Silent Kit recorded in Nov. of 2009. Miles Nielsen and myself cowrote the 2006 compositions, “Good Heart Sway,” “Gravity Girl,” and “1938” featured on his debut solo album, “Miles”. The Pimps, with producer Ed Dulian, rerecorded a version of my song, “I.M. ‘Merica”, that Stuart Johnson (Pimps songwriter) and I rewrote choruses for to be featured on their 2010 album, “F**k This Sh*t, We’re Outta Here”. Justin Perkins, Mystery Room Mastering (Madison, WI), contributed a major production hand in 2021 with salvaging and mixing an old demo cover song of an Uncle Tupelo song I recorded over 20 years ago, “New Madrid”, featured on “Just A Fan: A Tribute To Jeff Tweedy”, available on Bandcamp.

ClientSilent KitServicesSongwriting, Recording, Editing, Digital Distribution,

Silent Kit

YouTube Channel — Official Music Videos, Short Films, Rare Live Studio Performance and Interview


Low Hanging Fruits and Vegetables (Volumes 1-4: 1996 – 2012) > Listen below, or download (click here, ZIP file).

Low Hanging Fruits and Vegetable Scraps (Volume 5: 1996 – 2012) 
> Listen below, or download (click here, ZIP file).

12 Days of Working, Fa La La La La 
> Listen below, or download (click here, MP3 file).

Honey, I Wish You Well 
> Listen below, or download (click here, MP3 file).

The Staas Sessions (Official Music Film / 2017) 
> Watch & Listen below, or download songs from the film (click here, ZIP file).

8 songs, 24 hours
Originally Recorded July 4th and 5th, 2008
Fuse Recording Studio
Rockford, IL

Songs from the Staas Sessions, 2008, as they chronologically appear in this film, includes:

1) Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)*
2) Low (The Popcorn Stash)
3) Break My Hands
4) People In Bars
5) Star-Spangled Banner**
6) I.M. America
7) You’ve Alot of Nerve, Man
8) Curve Balls

All songs written and performed by Dave DeCastris.
Recorded and Engineered by Zach Staas, Fuse Recordings, Rockford, IL.
Additional Performances by Zach Staas, Barrett James, Daniel McMahon.
All Songs © 2008 Silent Kit, Dave DeCastris,;
except *“Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright),” by Bob Dylan, and **“Star-Spangled Banner,” by Francis Scott Key.



“With the new Silent Kit (Donkey Boy (USA)) EP, A Song for ‘Last Rights,” Dave DeCastris delivers a rumination on his favorite theme: The pain and degradation of low class Rockfordians.

Those people whose hopes have long since died, and for whom pleasure can only be found in the further destruction of their fragile ability to love.

Are you sure?

Yeah, mostly.

“There are ghosts everywhere that I go in this town. There are ghosts everywhere I lay my head down. You could be my only friend. Take my hand, take my hand, take my hand.”

It’s the long story of still born dreams and the ways in which we desperately cling to each other in a desperate attempt to hide the sound of every creeping death. Or something like that.

With the help of a few Anthony Graigs (Daniel McMahon, Mark Muraski), Silent Kit (DBUSA) offers us three versions of the song “Ghosts”. On a sheer economics level, it’s a great deal. For the price of one song (free) we get the final product, the demo, and the bangin club remix (look for that one on the Edmundo Graig 7”). It’s like the “Stimulate This” tour where all of those Republican bands played for really cheap to stick it to Obama. Like that, but awesome.

The final version of “Ghosts” came out jagged and haunting with a surprisingly sexy blues undercurrent. It reminds one of the darker side of Gnarls Barkley, or the Black Keys album that Danger Mouse produced (which is really redundant, if you think about it) and also very much of Beck; especially some of the more mechanical songs on Charlotte Gainsbourg’s IRM.

I’m not positive, but the Ghosts demo might be my favorite mix of the song. Where the single version is sprawling, the demo holds itself close to your ear, feeling intimate and all the more damaged; like the laptop ruminations of a man on his last legs. A man who has long since run out of friends who don’t come with screw tops. The Emundo Graig remix is pure sugar. A straight up flash of New Order, cocaine, and hair gel. It’s perfect for a quick desk chair salsa.

So I guess the question is: How do you feel? Sexy? Depressed and alone? Piquant? The A Song for Last Rights” EP has a flavor for each.

(Download for free, click here.)

Alex Danger Stewart, Sock Monkey Sound Podcast


speaking from experience and i can only assume this is true no matter your zip, area or postal code, but no matter where you lay your head you are bound to hear of a local musician that is a bit reclusive with their works. i can name at least two guys i know from chicago that wrote and recorded some amazing songs, but never could be convinced to share them with anyone outside of a select few. god damn shame i always thought, and i tried my damnedest to try and coax, at least one of them, to bring his songs out into the public, but my pleas fell on deaf ears. there’s a chap named dave decastris aka donkey boy usa that resides just northwest of chicagoland in the lovely city of rockford that seems to seems to have been suffering from the same kind of inner struggle as my friend, or maybe he’s just lazy. he’s amassed a shoebox collection of 400+ songs, most of which i dont believe have been put to tape. he’s been slowly working on the album & the anthony graigs for the better part of 13 years. he did some recording at an actual studio, but that studio fuse recordings in rockford shut down in 08. supposedly he is & the anthony graigs is going to be released in 2012. in the meantime, what we have here is a rough mix preview of said record. if you are a fan of lou barlow’s sentridoh, pollard, westerberg, silver jews, east river pipe and bands/artists of the like you should enjoy this. its far from perfect but lyrically he’s pretty funny and the music itself is pretty solid. 


Donkey Boy’s stuff was passed on to me by Dave, whom I assume is Donkey Boy himself, and it’s fine, splintered alt.folk – like Sparklehorse with toy instruments and a lofi pop glimmer. I like the wryness that breathes within the dustiness, the way the singer has withdrawn slightly from the back-and-forth of synths and sound-effects. It’s sweet and forlorn, but there’s a grin behind all that – it’s a heartfelt song that ends with someone smilingly talking shit.


Yes, it’s a song that’s centered around masturbation, but man, the beats here are awesome. The crunch of the downbeat, the seething feedback, and then the coda’s astonishing slip into acoustic guitar. This is part of a new album by Donkey Boy, to be released in 2005. Dave DeCastris is writing song-stories about the absurd sheen of Midwest normalcy, the “freak” neighbours who stare through the window as you eat your cereal. The song’s protagonist has his hand in his pants, yes. He watches TV and then he falls asleep. But around it all, the buzz of guitar, the tumble of percussion, and that peculiar shift into glimmery guitar.

SAY YES TO THE NO NOS: March 1st, 2008, CJ’s Lounge, Rockford, IL
 > One time live performance, recorded and released. Read about the performance, players, see live video of the night, and download a zip (click here).

Forewords by Kevin Schwitters & Dave DeCastris
Epilogue by Jesus Correa
Video by Stephanie Barisa
Download Bootleg by Mark Muraski

Foreword by Kevin Schwitters:

“The CJ’s SYTTNN show was one of the best shows I have ever been a part of.

We drew numbers to determine the entrance order, and I drew #2. I remember being excited because I figured my entrance would be the moment when the show transformed from one guy playing music alone into something truly special and weird.

I stood in the back room with the other members listening to Jesus (#1) play the intro, and after 10 seconds, I knew he had already achieved this on his own. We filed out one-by-one and kept piling on the noise.

We had only gotten together to discuss the project one or two times before the show, and most of that time was spent making costumes, taking pictures, and playing with action figures. The music wasn’t so much an after-thought as it was a never-thought. There was a .001% chance the music would be anything but annoying, indulgent, and unlistenable. Magic. And it never happened again.”

– Kevin Schwitters, The Braves / Table & Chairs / Haunted Hayrides / Say Yes to The No-No’s

Foreword by Dave DeCastris:

“The moment he (Jesus) mentioned costumes & noise makers for instruments, I was sold.  We had simply agreed to be in a Jesus Correa project, which in itself is worthy of any sort of participation.  

We did discuss his idea for the show and what to bring;  a cape, masks would be provided, and any noise making device.  He said he’d provide the songs.  There would be no practice which made us ecstatic but curious.

That night of the actual first and only performance we gathered back room at CJ’s downtown in our costumes & pulled #s (me pulling #11) for entrances. Jesus, #1, proclaimed that we were going to play cover songs & before you knew it, it was over to the tribal chant of “Crocodile Rock” & feedback from a rigged, audio-out-space-lego noise maker toy that  Mark Muraski tweaked up for me to abuse with a pedal & practice amp. We were sweaty, thirsty, happy. Musical therapy.

Someone yelled, “It was a happening,” as Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” began to play from the overhead PA. It was only then did the irony settle in. We just finished making ridiculous noise together–none of us really knowing each other aside from names and faces–like masked banshees on a bender– in a Rockford bar.

Thinking back on it now, we should have been kicked out but Jesus is cunning and charming. Those costumes may have been the decoy in his plan to not get us kicked out.

In the parking lot afterwards, two guys approached me asking questions:

“Dude, were you one of the No-No’s?” Yes.

“That was crazy man, space circus music, man!” Yeah, it was fun.

“We’re from Caledonia, man. We drove in to get drunk, man– we didn’t expect that shit.” Thanks (laughing).

“How did you practice for that?”  That was practice.

“When are you playing again?” I doubt we will.

It’s pretty rare when I can say without irony, Thank you, Jesus.”

Dave DeCastris, Silent Kit / Staasuhnator Rex / Say Yes to The No-No’s

“On March 1st, 2008, CJ’s on State St. in Rockford, IL played host to an unknown gathering of local musicians performing in costume by the name of Say Yes To The No-No’s. Armed with various noisemaking devices, percussion, toy instruments, harmonica, trombone, and slide guitar, the local ‘ironic super-group’ could be considered veteran, Rockford area musicians now who are more often ignored than actually listened to.  They were brought together by midwestern artist, musician & 2009 city mayoral candidate, Jesus Correa IV. He the brain, the No-No’s being his brainchild

Correa’s No-No’s consisted of members he gathered together from The Braves, Midwestern Death, Silent Kit (Formerly Donkey Boy USA), The Moment, Popeye Jonesin’, The GoMows & many more. Quite possibly forming the first ever Rockford Area Anti-Arts Indie Super Group. (It’s ok to laugh, douchebags.) Together they created a unified sound, void of arrogance and musical discipline with unadulterated defiance for each other and their environment.

11 members filed in 1×1, each 30-40 seconds apart to fulfill a roll call led by its leader, Mr. Correa. They eventually created a half hour of cover songs– as Jesus put it lightly during the intro.  Far from being cover songs & closer to something from space, the 11 members from all walks of life and styles of music created a circus of sound. Each member being the asshole in any other band performed out of tune, out of rhythm, and proudly. They became elephants that night, marching together to the beat of their leader’s drum machine. Yelling, banging, chanting & laughing like adult-children should do on occasion just to feel alive.

It became the sound of Rockford at night I’d dreamt of for years. Elephants stampeding through, marching with a unified self-defeat while trashing the town into a disgusting layer of party confetti, balloon skin shrapnel and empty beer cans. Women at the bar never saw it coming, leading them to dance the dance that bodies do, and leaving them for a new town to trash come morning.

The sound of Rockford had finally arrived and it was here and gone in 31 minutes. (Go figure, it was led by a human being named Jesus.)

Each member performed draped in a cape with masks on made by Correa for the No-No’s to wear, an homage to the good ol’ days of wrestling, performing, entertaining the locals and releasing the demons. Together they formed something larger than the scene they pissed about in tinkering away their youth on. Large &  memorable, it was only going to happen once this way. 11 idiots, all ironic & talented with multiple issues spread out between each one for 1 night, 30 minutes in Rockford creating unrehearsed, city-circus noise.

A soundtrack for a city so sad from waiting on a train to come back that they missed these elephants trampling all over their town for 30 minutes. From the Say Yes To The No-No’s to no one else but themselves.”

– AW | Andy Whorehall

Update: 01-26-2011:  We were able to hunt down Jesus Correa for a few thoughts about the one-off event after this article’s original posting. Enjoy.

EPILOGUE by Jesus Correa: 

“At the time of the show I was performing with an odd band called Lightning Thunder Fox-Chip Copeland was actually very shortly involved with this project-and we had a show booked at Cj’s. Elizabeth Kris McQueeny was in this band, and she was unable to perform-due to a vacation I believe-and I am a sickfuck who is unwilling to cancel a show-I performed last Valentines Day after spending the previous evening/early morning in an emergency room in Chicago after plummeting off the roof of the Congress Theatre-so I started racking my brain.

At this point I had been playing in bands and performing for about ten years, and I always felt like an outsider, a weird-o, and an outcast in the local music scene. I knew a lot of other folks in bands around town, but I was never IN with the incrowd, and my musical projects were often spurned and overlooked, and Lightning Thunder Fox was really sort of out there. So I start wracking my brain, because I am not going to cancel a show-I probably love playing shows more than anything else I can think of-and I figure, Well, they think I’m weird, and out there, I will show them weird and out there.

So I start getting in touch with folks I respected around the area, mostly musicians, some other random folk that I was sort of curious as to what they would do, some just on the word of other folk I had asked. I had a fuzzy idea of what wanted to happen, and I had a name. Say Yes To The No-No’s was just something I said around the house, and I recorded a few things under the name around that time-an album called Ko-Ko Luv Good available on Greentape.

I got a basic line-up worked out, and so I set to work. We all met at my house a total of two times, maybe three. We met once to do a photoshoot at the 412 mansion-I am not sure where these photos are, I believe we used Elliot Porter of the Moment’s camera-and I think the second time we met up was before the show to finish up some masks and drink beer before the show. There may have been another get together, but I am a little fuzzy on the whole thing. I think we decided on the way out that the ultimate goal was to end up playing Crocodile Rock and that was it as far as the musical guideline was concerned.

I believe a couple of people backed out at the last minute from the show, and I remember trying to talk a couple of people in the back room into playing along, but to no avail. I think we ended up with eleven members onstage when all was said and done.

The masks were something I was sort of using at the time in Lightning Thunder Fox. I like to see a show as much as hear a show, I am very much into stage presence, and am all for putting on a Show. I sewed most of them myself, but I remember a few people helping out in my cramped little room just before the show, Phil Goudreu sticks out as one of the sewers.

Before the show we all drew a mask and a number from a bag. I believe I actually drew number nine, every other number was drawn, and I went ahead and drew again and ended up number one. I never told anyone that before, I sort of cheated a little, but it was my baby and I wanted to be the first one to go, sorry.

I remember walking out and being just sort of disoriented, with the mask and just the oddness of it all. We set all the instruments out beforehand, just sort of scattered all about. I just started my drum machine, and it was all just a little fuzzy from there.

I was reprimanded on two counts for the show:

  • Eleanor Boersma who was in the band LIghtning Thunder Fox with me, and also underage kept trying to sneak into the place, which was my problem for some reason.
  • It was just sort of too out there, it didn’t sit well with the generic rock and roll shows that typically go on around town-where was the bass player and the drums and the guitar riffs and the structure and who was in charge, where was the frontman etc. It made some people uneasy, good, I like that.

All in all it went above and beyond what I expected. It made my weird band that I was with fulltime not seem so weird. I got to play with a lot of folk I respected but who would not normally perform with me or one of my bands under normal circumstances. I got to bring a weird idea that belonged in some uptight boring art gallery into a cozy little dive bar, and weird out the Squares.

Just the experience of being there was one thing. There were some fuzzy videos on the YOUTUBE a few days later. Then I heard someone had recorded the damned thing, and lo and behold it was not as annoying as I thought it would be, it was actually sort of good in its own weird way, it sort of clicked, and it worked, godammit it worked.

This is the final line-up of performers as far as I can remember, I think some of them kept their masks, which made me mad at first, but I hope they treasure their stolen mask, and the magical evening we shared together, just some masked men wailing and banging in the evening.

Say Yes To The No-No’s Line-up

1.Jesus Correa VII
2.Kevin Schwitters
3.Dave DeCastris
4.Phil Goudreau
5.Brandon Lutmer
6.Taylor Marie Moorman
7.Jason Judd
8.Steven Wirth
9.Spencer Scott
10.Zach Ippen
11. Barrett James

Jesus Correa, Say Yes To The No-No’s

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