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9 Questions / 9 Answers
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1. What got you interested in music?

I think my first serious interest in music was an interest in the accordion. My grandparents, on my father's side, were Italian. Sometimes on Sundays, my grandmother would make big pasta suppers. Lots of friends and relatives would show up at her house in the early afternoon. My grandfather was a stone mason and their house had a flagstone patio he had made, with outdoor tables. One of my grandparents' friends, Adriana, played the accordion. He was usually there playing Italian songs. I was mesmerized by the instrument and after a few of those Sunday visits, was sure I wanted to play accordion too...at least until that one Sunday night we saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. The next day I traded my imaginary accordion for an air guitar. That same week, my father brought home a "45" of "I Want To Hold Your Hand", and my fate was sealed. After enough begging and pleading, I got a rented guitar, some guitar lessons and a Beatle song book.

2. Where are you from?

I was born in down town Los Angeles where we lived for a while, until my folks heard the call to suburbia. They bought a house in what was to become the San Fernando Valley. When we got there, the first tracts were being built. Most of the valley was still dairy farms and citrus groves; this was way before malls and valley girls. I remember pulling up to the house when I was five years old in my parents old Chevy. The streets weren't even paved yet.

We moved out to the Agoura / Thousand Oaks area during my Jr. high and high school years. After that, I went on to Santa Barbara to go to college. I spent about ten years up there playing in clubs after finishing school. I eventually moved back to Los Angeles to pursue a writing career, and stayed there until moving to Nashville in 1994.

3. What brought you to Nashville?

I first came to Nashville through a series of one week trips here from California. I would try to come out every summer to pitch my songs around and do some writing. Nashville is a writer's town. Music on the west coast seemed to be getting more and more self contained. By that I mean that an act would either write their own songs or the producer would write the songs, but either way outside songs would rarely be considered. Nashville, on the other hand, seemed to be looking for songs.

There is a really great writers' community here, and it's great to be part of it. It's a Mecca for songwriters. Many of the best writers are here. It's like being a painter in the Impressionist period and living in Paris, that's how I think of it. It's easy to feel isolated in Los Angeles because everything is a forty minute drive away. You are in your house and everything else is across the city. Here there are basically two streets where it all is happening.

4. What kind of work have you done for the last twenty years?

I've done a lot of different things over the last twenty years. I went to school, worked in restaurants, played in clubs, I was a staff songwriter, I worked in the computer department of a large law firm, I've done construction work, made song demos for people, produced some records, started and ran a movie prop business, built a recording studio, but more than anything, I've written songs and played in clubs.

5. Talk about playing in clubs

Playing in clubs started out being really great. You have the days free to write and at night you make music and get paid to do so. I remember thinking, "I can't believe I'm getting paid to do this". It's even in the language; you're not working you're PLAYING. You get a lot of experience dealing with all kinds of people. You become a better player because you're playing all the time. There are bad parts too. The cigarette smoke is unbearable and very unhealthy. A lot of people who come to bars are not there to listen to music, they are there to drink and talk and smoke and watch sports on television. During those times, when you realize you are being largely ignored, you start to ask your self why you do it. You put yourself on a sort of auto pilot and that can become a bad habit. There is not much club work around Nashville because there are so many musicians and songwriters who will play for free. When I play in town here, I mostly do writers nights and people who come to those are there to listen, they hang on every word.

 

6. Why make music?

I love making music and all the good parts of that. It is an indescribable feeling to be in a group of players when the music is good, or to sit down in a room full of people with just a guitar and play a song and know that you put the emotion across and they felt it. I've got so much invested now, it's too late to think of anything else, besides, I've done other things and I've always come back. There is nothing else that interests me as much.

7. Tell us about the studio

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Having my own studio has always been a dream of mine. It took about a year and a half of long days and late nights with a saw or a hammer in my hand instead of a guitar, but the finished product was worth it. I am able to spend time working on ideas without having to watch the clock the way you do when you are in an expensive room. That means you can be more creative, or go crazy with too many choices, but the end result is better I think.

8. What are your plans for the future?

I want to do a radio show from the studio.  I am anxious to start working on my next CD project, I have some new songs that I am excited about recording. I also have been working with a new artist, a singer who you will be hearing about soon. The web site is another project that I am devoting a lot of time to now.

9. Tell us about the web site.

We're real excited about the Phonograph Records web site because it's a way for the music to reach a world wide audience. We will have down-loadable audio clips from the songs on the CDs and if people like what they hear, they'll be able to order their own copies of the albums right from the site. There will be biographic information on the artists, and a guest book so people who want to find out more about things like new releases and live appearances can be notified via E-mail or through the post office. We hope to eventually be streaming video so folks can see our music videos directly from the site right on their own computers.

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Mark's CD "At This Table"
Mark's CD "naked"
Mark's CD "COLICCHIO"

Schedule of Live Shows

See Mark's Accordions
See Mark's Portrait
See Mark with Rat Pack

 

 

 


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