Mark Sterling Music
Until the late ’70s, the music scene was ripe with pockets of great regional music. Sometime towards the end of the ’70s and the beginning of the ’80s, most of this disappeared. It often became hard to tell anything about where a band was from by their sound. Big money was in it, and a slick producer could be called in to create a formulaic sound that was bound to fit in with the current flavor of the month no matter where you were from. Sounds were homogenized and artist expression suffered. At some point in the last 8-10 years, all this began to change. Advents in technology gave us the ability to produce and record music for a small fraction of what it used to cost. No longer does it require hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment to make a decent-sounding recording. No longer is it necessary to allow a record company executive able to put his stamp on the sound going to disc. Musicians with rather minimal resources at their disposal can now assemble their own set of equipment and produce their own material. With the advent of the Internet and music discussion lists, folks in underground scene who have always produced some great music that was rarely heard outside of the small circuit of small clubs that these artists were relegated to have begun to find a whole new audience.
Mark Sterling will prove to be a perfect example of the direction the music business is headed. It sorta goes like this… Canadian bluesman records in his living room, produces his own CDs, and sells them out of a suitcase at his club shows. People on the discussion lists of some better-known artists trade their favorite regional artists and the legend grows. That’s exactly what happened here.
The Well is Mark’s second independent release and his best yet, even though I was very impressed with his self-titled release. Mark has a big and fat acoustic blues sound sorta resembling a nuevo John Hammond, or possibly more like a Taj Mahal in that he’s more of a blues de-constructionist in his approach. The themes are timeless without the depressing feel that often tags along on many traditional blues releases. Songs of desperation, longing, mistakes made and redemption found, fall in place in just the right order and measure. Mark’s masterful dobro work gives his releases a sort of southern swampy feel not unlike some of Ry Cooder’s soundtrack work. Well-placed fiddle and percussion appear in about half the songs, but for the most part, this release and his first release are pretty much stripped-down blues with various combinations of guitar, harp, dobro, and bass forming the foundation for one of the best and most credible new blues groups that I’ve heard in years.
Mark is hoping for an invite to showcase Bluestock ’99 in Memphis this October. If there is justice in the music business, he’ll get it. He’s currently busy doing a lot of Western Canadian summer festivals and planning a tour supporting Boston Blues Babe Susan Tedeshi.
Mark Sterling’s self-titled release, or this new release, The Well , can be had by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost for either release is $15 U.S. postpaid. I was told that inquiries coming through the preceding address will be handled immediately.
Mark Sterling Music, email@example.com