Where This Road Takes Me
Mark was born January 15, 1956, and grew up in the small 'mill town' of Milltown, Indiana. The town had formed years earlier because of a grist mill built on the Blue River. While the river still runs through the heart of the town, the mill has long been silent, but Mark is now being heard by the world. Mark grew up like many other Indiana boys in the fifties and sixties, catching frogs, fishing, and playing basketball on the hoop nailed to the garage door. But at a very early age, while watching Mitch Miller's bouncing ball teach rhythm, he felt the lure of music. He continued to watch Mitch, and then The Johnny Cash Show at his Grandma's house on a weekly basis. His love of music could have been partly inherited. He learned later in life, after he had already been rooted in music, that his maternal grandmother played by ear and sang. She was about 16, in the early 1900's, when she would travel by horse and buggy to play her guitar and sing at parties. Mark's parents first realized how important music was to their son when he fashioned his first guitar from a stairway slat. He used stretched rubber bands for strings, and attached his instrument to a cardboard box amplifier with a length of baler twine. At the age of 11, Mark's parents bought him his first 'real' guitar. "It was a Tesco if my memory serves me right. Money was in short supply back then, so they put it on lay-away. It was the only way they could afford it at the time." They never regretted their sacrifice. Mark taught himself to play with the occasional help of his slightly older cousin Jerry, who played in a small town band. Jerry taught him his first chords and always laughed that when he tried to teach him new things, Mark could do them, but always went about it the hard way. "I'll have to admit that I am still one to do what works, be it difficult or easy." Mark went to see Jerry's band and any other small town bands perform. Most went to dance, at the then named 'sock hops,' but not Mark. He stood by the stage to watch the performers and learn anything new. He would then go home and practice until he got it right. Marks first performance was an a cappella version of the Beatles', "I Should Have Known Better." "That was during music class when I was in the 6th grade. I remember another girl and I were the only ones with enough nerve to do something like that and be willing to put up with the ridicule that some of the kids that age so easily hand out." He went on to play his guitar and sing at church with his sisters. In the late 60's and early 70's he played with a couple of other guys in what would have then been termed a 'front porch band,' compared to today's 'garage bands.' Mark continued to search out new techniques as well as absorb all that he could from his cousin Jerry. In 1978 at the age of 24, Jerry drowned in a tragic swimming accident. His inspiration, however, lives on to this very day, and he would be proud of the musician he helped to pattern, some 30 years ago. Mark married his grade school sweetheart in 1978 and they embarked on life together. Jobs took the forefront in starting out on their own, but music was never abandoned completely. In the mid 80's Mark started writing songs. He never wanted the life of a performer but music always had him in it's grasp. He had become a fan of singer-songwriters, because they gave him a further understanding of music. Mark wrote and sent songs to a variety of publishers, in hopes of attaining his now life-long goal, to have a song(s) recorded by an established artist. He pushed his music at every opportunity. A hope for success came when, Jerry Hanlon, an owner of a small, independent label, recorded 3 of his songs. He attempted to promote them mostly in the European market. Although Jerry has been unsuccessful in marketing the songs, he still remains a good friend. "Jerry gave me motivation at a time when I needed it by believing in the songs and I'll always be grateful for that and his friendship." Mark continued to write and perform his songs at various local functions, as well as at a local public radio station. He compiled 3 CDs of his own songs and made as many contacts as possible in attempts to reach that 'established artist' with his music. Although he would never stop playing and singing, in February 2005 Mark decided to call it quits, as far as writing, recording, and promoting his work. He had tried all he knew, to no avail. "It wasn't that I didn't believe in my work because I always have. If you don't believe in what you're doing, then you can't expect anyone else to. It was simply a tremendous amount of work that seemingly wasn't going anywhere and, most of all, taking away time from being with my wife." About a week after proclaiming this heart felt decision, everything changed. His lifelong goal of having his songs recorded had been accomplished. Word came that the Del McCoury Band had recorded 2 songs for inclusion on their 2005 release "The Company We Keep." That release went on to win a Grammy Award for 'Best Bluegrass Album.' Mark's songs, 'Nothin' Special', and 'When It Stops Hurtin'' are tracks #1 and #9 respectively on the album. I've never personally known anyone who has come to realize the dream of a lifetime, I do now. I am that grade school sweetheart and wife who has lived every step of this dream along with him. 'Where This Road Takes Me' is Mark's newest release since his success with The Del McCoury Band's Grammy winner.