“Even when you’re happy, there’s a teardrop in your drink” says it all. This is a sentiment understood by anyone who has not lived a charmed life. Mark Huff’s new album “Down River” is a so personal it can’t help speaking directly to the heart.
Mark’s Dad is a golf pro and moved the family from South Florida to Las Vegas in 1961. At nine years old Mark was pounding on Ludwig drums while his older brother learned guitar. Growing up in Las Vegas, music was the thing to do. This, of course, led to them forming a band when Mark was nineteen. According to Mark the bass and guitar players and even the drummers were easy to come by, but the kept losing the singer. Big brother told Mark he needed to sing so they wouldn’t keep having that problem; so he did. Playing guitar was something he needed to learn if he was going to be standing up in front of the band so that was the next step in the evolution of putting a working band together. Their band played cover tunes for shows and parties enjoying some local success. Playing everyone elses songs got boring so that band faded away.
1982 rolled around Mark and his buds formed a band called “Smart Bomb” performing original tunes written by Mark’s friend Paul Summers (who now lives and performs in Portland). This band stayed together for several years becoming a popular regional band working regularly and making a splash on the Las Vegas music scene. Performing at the Hard Rock Hotel and House of Blues got him noticed by bigger stars. He then opened for Willie Nelson, Chris Isaak and Bob Dylan at arenas to huge crowds which only fed the desire to keep on a path in music. When that band parted ways Mark began writing his own songs.
Influenced by storytellers like Dylan and Neil Young he became a prolific song writer. Mark got a publishing deal and traveled from Los Angeles to Nashville and other parts of the country and overseas. Home base was still Las Vegas.
As a solo artist Mark was backed up by some terrific musicians in Las Vegas. Traveling was interfering with relationships and life in general so he made the decision to pack up and move to Nashville. All the band members thought he was crazy but Mark felt he had to go somewhere where he was not known to see if he could make a living doing music.
Soon after arriving in Nashville, Allison Moorer, a star in the Americana genre, heard his music and asked if he would accompany her on her US tour. Touring has since become a way of life. He has included the east coast, the mid west, through Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona then southern California up to the Northwest clear to Seattle and parts of Europe. ‘Performing for strangers is the best thing about touring’, if you ask Mark.
Questioned about the inspiration for this eighth album Mark says specifically his late brother and their relationship. “Teardrop in your drink” is the song created that most represents feelings about his brother helping him get started as a front man and the mixed emotions young men have with the divorce of their parents. Honesty is the most important thing in song writing, according to Mark, even if it’s painful to write.
Mark was lucky in that his travels allowed him to cross paths with Leonard Cohen. He mentioned that he was in the midst of writer’s block and Mr. Cohen said “Hey, sometimes you’ve got to write some shitty songs just to get the good ones flowing again”. The most memorable thing that Leonard Cohen left with Mark was “A song is never done”.
Mark caught up with one of his friends he grew up with in Las Vegas who now lives and performs in Seattle. Social media is a wonderful thing. Tom Melanconhttp://www.tommeloncon.net is an alt-Country and folk musician who is touring with Mark.
Mark and Tom will be at the Axe and Fiddle in Cottage Grove December 15th along with Siobhan O’Brien. The show will start at 8:30pm. December 16th at 6:00pm to 8:00pm, Tom and Mark will be at Sam Bond’s Brewery and then on December 17th, 8:00pm at the Growler Underground in Springfield.A local player, Bryce Krehbiel will be opening at the Growler Underground.
Mark’s music is available on itunes and his web site http://www.therealmarkhuff.comwww.therealmarkhuff.com