Lo­cal mu­si­cians help to launch oth­ers’ ca­reers

Mark’s Place strikes the right chord with lo­cal mu­si­cians

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By MICHAEL REID [email protected]­news.com

South­ern Mary­land mu­si­cians look­ing to record some of their mu­sic could do a lot worse than head­ing to Mark’s Place, a small non­de­script house tucked off Route 231. The home — which is iden­ti­fied only by a small sign and a faded blue gui­tar nailed to the mail­box — has of­fered South­ern Mary­land mu­si­cians an op­por­tu­nity to hone their craft for the past sev­eral years.

“What we’re do­ing is of­fer­ing a whole com­plete band for that in­di­vid­ual song­writer that can maybe sing or play gui­tar or spe­cialty in­stru­ments like the horn or a key­board,” said 57-year-old Mark Lambert, who once per­formed with 1980s bands Joss and Ice­break­ers, and now plays sev­eral in­stru­ments in ad­di­tion to his du­ties as pro­ducer and sound engi­neer. “You get to have your mu­sic and your name put on an al­bum. Where a nor­mal stu­dio would run you thou­sands of dol­lars for each song, we don’t charge any­thing. We help them com­plete their song. If you’ve never been recorded be­fore, this is the place to go.”

The band re­leased an eight­song CD in Novem­ber, and plans to re­lease an un­plugged disc some­time in Fe­bru­ary. Al­bums are avail­able at www. cd­baby.com.

Har­ley Mike Gib­bons, who grad­u­ated from Calvert High School in 2003 and was a gui­tarist and lead vo­cal­ist with Cross­fire from 2003 to 2010, joined the house band at Mark’s Place a few months ago and helped put out the first CD. The 33-year-old Hunt­ing­town res­i­dent will record his own song, “Rock to My Roll,” on the un­plugged disk.

“It was ab­so­lutely great be­cause I was fi­nally able to hear my mu­sic played the way I’ve heard it in my head for years and couldn’t phys­i­cally do it,” said Gib­bons, who is a ser­vice man­ager at All-Amer­i­can Har­ley-David­son in Hugh­esville. “I can’t play two gui­tars at a time, I’m not a drum­mer and the same thing with key­boards, so it was great to hear other mu­si­cians’ takes on my ma­te­rial and my cre­ations and see where it goes. They’re cre­ative, they’re easy-go­ing, and they’re do­ing it for the right rea­sons, which is for the love of mu­sic.”

Vo­cal­ist and bas­sist Matt Archer, who was a mem­ber of 69 Band, had writ­ten some mu­sic while he was a mem­ber of Fred­er­ick County-based Be­yond The Blues, and hap­pened to meet Lambert about a month ago.

Lambert “had a truck driv­ing song,” said Archer, who has been a truck driver for 27 years and is now a mem­ber of the house band, “and I said, ‘Well, I found the right spot to be in.’”

Archer — who once recorded at the renowned Mus­cle Shoals record­ing stu­dio in Alabama, which Lynyrd Skynyrd sings about in “Sweet Home Alabama” — did vo­cals for the “18 Wheels Rolling” tune, which is slated to ap­pear on the up­com­ing CD.

Other house mu­si­cians in­clude key­boardist Steve Gib­bons and vo­cal­ist Ste­vie Rae Kon­cen.

“We do it for the com­pas­sion for it, the love for it,” said house drum­mer Wade “Squatch Man” Richards, who has per­formed with Boyz From Vir­ginia and once had a try­out for KISS in the 1970s. “It’s in our blood, it’s al­ways been in our blood. When you’re a mu­si­cian, ei­ther you have it or you don’t, and when you do have it, you eat, drink and sleep it. It’s a way of life.”

The only caveat to per­form­ing with the band is that mu­si­cians must have orig­i­nal ma­te­rial.

“We’re try­ing to push the mu­sic and help them in­spire them­selves,” Lambert said. “We all did the cover thing for years, and now it’s time for us to ex­press our­selves and help oth­ers ex­press them­selves. We sup­pressed our­selves by play­ing cov­ers for 10 years. But not ev­ery­body can [write orig­i­nal mu­sic]. Not ev­ery­body has that orig­i­nal thing; it’s eas­ier for peo­ple to fol­low things they can hear. To cre­ate some­thing right there on the spot that comes right from your soul? There’s no bet­ter feel­ing.”

“It’s like open­ing a present,” said house band vo­cal­ist and har­mon­ica player Daniel Hinch­liffe, who has per­formed with sev­eral bands, in­clud­ing Ram­page and the United States Navy-based Se­abees. “You never know what you’re go­ing to get.”

And in the case of Har­ley Mike Gib­bons, there was no doubt he had a gift.

“We as­sess mu­si­cians by how they fit in, and when Har­ley Mike came in I handed him some words and he started singing and I thought, ‘OK, this guy has no prob­lem,’” Lambert said. “A good mu­si­cian will just pick up new mu­sic eas­ily, and for Har­ley Mike it was no strug­gle for him at all.”

It was also no strug­gle when the band first heard Kon­cen, who lives in St. Mary’s County and works as a server in La Plata.

Richards met Kon­cen at a tat­too par­lor and was blown away af­ter he watched a video of her per­form­ing a Led Zep­pelin song, and in­vited her to Mark’s Place.

“They all thought I was the boy who cried wolf be­cause she never called, but she fi­nally called and came in here and we were all just floored when she started singing,” Richards said. “It’s just the emo­tion and

the soul she puts into it, and she’s a tiny girl. It’s in­cred­i­ble. She has a very wide range; she doesn’t have a wheel­house. We haven’t seen any­thing she hasn’t been able to sing yet.”

“The first time she came over she said, ‘Let’s do a cover just to warm up,’” Lambert said, re­fer­ring to “Stormy Mon­day” by T-Bone Walker. “She’d never heard the song be­fore but she sang it — one time, live — and it was so good it’s on the CD.”

The band pro­duced three songs that day, in­clud­ing “Baby Girl,” which Koe­nen wrote for her daugh­ter, that will be on the up­com­ing al­bum.

“They’re awe­some,” said the 26-year-old Kon­cen, who grad­u­ated from La Plata High School in 2010 and was trained in classical opera. “They give good feed­back. They’ve been play­ing a lot longer than I have, but I think we com­pli­ment each other.”

But not every­one is cut out for the stu­dio.

“You have to watch out be­cause you have a ten­dency to hurt feel­ings,” said Lambert, who also looks for a mu­si­cian’s tim­ing, ver­sa­til­ity, at­ti­tude and ego. A mu­si­cian might “have it in their mind what [a song] should sound like and you’re up there think­ing, ‘If we did this it might make it a lit­tle

bet­ter.’ Some peo­ple get of­fended by it, but those with open minds have no prob­lems.”

The band said they usu­ally know right away when a mu­si­cian has what it takes. “We had a guy a cou­ple weeks ago and we started jam­ming,” said Richards. “If you’re a mu­si­cian, the mu­sic just flows, but he was one step be­hind or one step be­low and it just didn’t work out.”

Mu­si­cians who have at­tended ses­sions at Mark’s Place have — through help from a large tome that con­tains an ex­ten­sive list of avail­able mu­si­cians — formed bands in­clud­ing Dunkirk’s Drive Train and Charles County’s Av­er­age Joes.

“We want to get South­ern Mary­land no­ticed be­cause we have some great mu­si­cians here,” Lambert said.

Con­tact Lambert at 4433-771-0423 or mark­lam­[email protected]­hoo.com, or find Mark’s Place on Face­book.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY MICHAEL REID

Dan Hinch­liffe, left, and Mark Lambert jam dur­ing a re­cent ses­sion at Mark’s Place.

Wade Richards pounds the drums dur­ing a re­cent jam ses­sion at Mark’s Place.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Mark’s Place will be re­leas­ing an un­plugged al­bum fea­tur­ing lo­cal mu­si­cians in Fe­bru­ary.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Har­ley Mike Gib­bons, who grad­u­ated from Calvert High School in 2003 and was a gui­tarist and lead vo­cal­ist with Cross­fire from 2003 to 2010, will record his own song, “Rock To My Roll” on the band’s up­com­ing un­plugged disk.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Ste­vie Rae Kon­cen records at Mark’s Place dur­ing a re­cent jam ses­sion. Her song “Baby Girl,” a trib­ute to her daugh­ter, will be on the band’s up­com­ing un­plugged al­bum.

Matt Archer records “18 Wheels Rolling,” which will be on the band’s un­plugged al­bum, dur­ing a re­cent ses­sion at Mark’s Place.

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