Marc Black is an eclectic folk-rocker who carries the Woodstock tradition of dealing with life with all its social and political challenges…one song at a time. He’s been hailed by noted folk artist Happy Traum for his “timeless” songs featuring “deep grooves, excellent playing [and] top-notch guitar and vocals.”
He's performed and recorded with many luminaries including Pete Seeger, Art Garfunkel and Rick Danko. Levon Helm also invited Marc to play one of the Midnight Rambles.
Marc's song subjects range from his love for Rachel Maddow, good coffee and just about everything in between. His fingerstyle blues is reminiscent of Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin' Hopkins. And his recent CD, Pictures of the Highway, reached #6 on the Folk DJ Chart.
Traveling with his gps and his Guild D40, Marc spends most of his time on the road— playing festivals, clubs, arts centers, libraries and house concerts. He was named Folk Artist of the Year on ABC Radio’s Fame Games and was a finalist in the prestigious Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk Competition. Sometime a Spark, his song about Mohamed Bouazizi and the Arab Spring, caused an international stir that led to an interview on Tunisian State Radio.
He's currently completing a duet CD entitled Champions of Love with piano great, Warren Bernhardt. (http://www.warrenbernhardt.com/).
While still in high school, his band, the Blades of Grass, reached the top forty and performed along side the biggest acts of the day including the Doors, Van Morrison and Neil Diamond. He has since recorded more than a dozen CDs including one ‘pick hit’ in Billboard Magazine and another that was recognized as a ‘minor masterpiece’ by famed music producer John Hammond Sr.
In the 1980s, Marc won the American Library Association Award for Best Children’s Album for producing American Children, a collaboration with such talented artists as Richie Havens, Taj Mahal and Maria Muldaur. ASCAP has featured Marc in performance at the Sundance Film Festival and several of his Youtube videos have been viewed more than 50,000 times!
Over the past couple of years, he’s occasionally turned to a more topical songwriting style. One tune, No Fracking Way – recorded with John Sebastian and Eric Weissberg (of “Dueling Banjos” fame), and some 100 Woodstock, NY citizens — has been sung at rallies as far away as South Africa, Ireland and Australia.
Marc Black - Guitar, Kalimba, balaphon
Marc's album titles include:
Sometime a Spark,
Pictures of the Highway,
Stroke of Genius,
The Blades of Grass Are Not For Smoking,
Older Than Dirt,
White Water Depot,
Dance Steps Included,
Beautiful Animal Run,
Dark Light Dark, among others.
A more complete listing is available @ marcblack.com
Marc Black, friends bent minds and moved bodies in Bearsville
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"Rows of chairs were set back toward the theater entrance and you could sit at the bar, but every-bo..."Rows of chairs were set back toward the theater entrance and you could sit at the bar, but every-body was on the floor, pressed close to the band and pulsing to a mojo driven by Esposito, Parker and Bernhardt and uplifted by skirls from horn and fiddle. Mouthing lyrics, flailing guitar and dervishing in our midst, Black encompassed rhythm and the quaisi-melodic. This man rejoices in the liberation of his consensual peers in improvisational freak-outs. In other times and places, Black manifests as a pensive, guitar picking troubadour, offering up his songs of Catskill scenes and life lit with a sensitivity that crowds the late Tim Hardin's act. Here, he's a shamanic agitator for freedom now, and he encouraged our inner space alien to acts of extreme silliness. Arms, hands attached, became weirdly waved feelers, legs rubbered in sundry bends. If you'd snapped a photo, you would've had a bar scene out of "Star Wars." Kitty Montgomery, Kingston Freeman
Black Market Music
Black produces soulful, catchy music
Songs From The Otherside
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This CD is not just a collection of songs. It's an album...and I love it. Black, supported by Stev...This CD is not just a collection of songs. It's an album...and I love it. Black, supported by Steve Gadd, Art Garfunkel, John Sebastian, and Steely Dan's music director, Warren Bernhardt, captures a life-altering secret journey, walking the foggy coastline between life and death.
Stroke of Genius
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Marc's new record is a fine, deep piece of work and a departure for this venerable Woodstock singer...Marc's new record is a fine, deep piece of work and a departure for this venerable Woodstock singer/songwriter. Wildly original.
Women in Black meet Marc Black
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Black and Woodstock legend Garth Hudson, former keyboardist for The Band came up with a surf-sound b...Black and Woodstock legend Garth Hudson, former keyboardist for The Band came up with a surf-sound backbeat, The recording mocks conservative radio and television commentators, featuring audio clips from their shows. This record underscores Black’s taste for musical adventure.
Marc Black's Older Than Dirt CD
Marc Black's lyrics are clever yet unpretentious, simple yet poetic, introspective but not esoteric.
My favorite CD of the Millenium
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From the 70's down to the present day, Marc Black's chant-based songs and improvisational rave-ups ...From the 70's down to the present day, Marc Black's chant-based songs and improvisational rave-ups have kept dancing souls movin' and groovin'. One might say that his live gigs presaged today's 'jam band' scene.
Powerful New CD...Stroke of Genius
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Songs like "Our Way Back" and "Let 'im Go" toe the line between the American songbook and full-on go...Songs like "Our Way Back" and "Let 'im Go" toe the line between the American songbook and full-on gospel. "Are You Ready" dives into "Smile"-era Brian Wilson, "You Were The Reason" recalls Steely Dan's sophisticated blue-eyed soul and the abrasive "Rewired" sounds like a lost Frank Zappa/Tom Waits electro/noise experiment, all carried by Black's Carl Wilson-like tenor.
Older Than Dirt...Now
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The album offers a series of gently ironic modern folk songs, many written by Black whose mellow voi...The album offers a series of gently ironic modern folk songs, many written by Black whose mellow voice and relaxed picking style are reminiscent of Greg Brown. The songs are almost more meditations than songs. “Love On You Answering Machine,” a song composed and recorded on the spot - completely winged, mind you - sounds like something John Prine would be proud of.
Marc Black, "Ooh, I Love My Coffee," Mp3 Review
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Even tea drinkers would agree that “Ooh, I Love My Coffee,” by Marc Black, is a hit. It’s lyrically ...Even tea drinkers would agree that “Ooh, I Love My Coffee,” by Marc Black, is a hit. It’s lyrically smart, tastily creative, and has kicked in my craving for a caffeine fix. Black sums up my feeling about this tune with one of his more catchy phrases, “I love it a latte.”
Delivered over an up-tempo, acoustically finger-picked blues arrangement, “Ooh, I Love My Coffee” is full of aurally pleasing fun and uniquely twisted lyrics that will impress mass audiences and critics alike. Black does all of the instrumental performing, singing, and audio recording on this tune. The production is simple but perfectly effective. There’s subtle harmonies added along with some light vocal percussion. There’s even a tinkering of instrumental percussion panned to the left (if my speakers are wired correctly). Is Black tapping a spoon on a coffee mug? I wouldn’t doubt it. Amidst the simplicity, you’ll even hear the occasional barbershop background vocals (again, all sung by Black) and Black’s humorous quacking duck impression. It’s different, and it really, really works.
Black’s acoustic guitar finger-picking, on his 1968 Guild D40, is also to be commended. He plays a simple guitar solo while maintaining a constant bass note with his thumb. Not too shabby.
Of all the great things in this song, the crafty lines are absolutely the best. From start to finish, the listener is treated to a bottomless cup of freshly brewed lyrics. There’s a few clever play-on-words like, “espresso yourself.” The highlight of the song, however, is the catchy rhythmic chorus where Black sings, “Machiata, mocachino, half caf cappacino ooh, I love my coffee (coffee) ooh, I love my coffee (coffee). Americano mocha grande tall decaf ooh, I love my coffee (coffee), ooh, I love my coffee (coffee).
Even the bridges are phenomenal and give anti-cliché advocates something to cheer about. Black sings, “The mornin' without my cup, that's a horseshoe without the luck. That be a quack without the duck, a wallet without a buck.” I bet you can guess where the duck impression was thrown in.
Though “Ooh, I Love My Coffee” is a single not currently available on disc, Black has quite the library of other tunes you should also check out. However, as a coffee drinker, this tune is my favorite. It is good to the last dr… No, I won’t do it! Let’s just say Marc Black has given the songwriting a world a gift with his tune, “Ooh, I Love My Coffee.” To again quote Black, “I love it a latte.”
Pictures of the Highway
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"I Love You Rachel Maddow" — has a chorus so catchy it's hard not to join in. There's no shortage o..."I Love You Rachel Maddow" — has a chorus so catchy it's hard not to join in. There's no shortage of tunes that keep playing in your head, I've been waking up with it for days." Kay Cordtz / Elmore
Pictures of the Highweay
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He is all his own, in a way that only other very special artists, such as Tom Waits, are all their o...He is all his own, in a way that only other very special artists, such as Tom Waits, are all their own. His lyrics are nothing less than the poetry of the night. Donny Harvey, Muzik Reviews.som
Marc Black on Fire
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I used to think of Marc Black as the tie-dyed troubadour of yore, whose killer band could summon up ...I used to think of Marc Black as the tie-dyed troubadour of yore, whose killer band could summon up my misspent youth in three songs. Turns out Black had commercial savvy as well, writing jingles to support the family, while catching the computer wave when it was little more than a swell. The result? Here is one old dog who has indeed learned many a new trick, a hot lick, and a deep groove—while never losing that hippie-dipped sense of wonder.
In a single set Marc can morph from funkaholic to world-beat rant to velvet-voiced folkie. But one thing he wouldn't do—until a few months ago—is get political. I recently caught up with him at Karl Berger’s studio (more on that later) where he promptly admitted: “Yeah, I was cynical. Or let’s say I worked best with irony. When Three Mile Island happened my song complained: ‘I’m so disappointed/ the plant didn’t blow/ nothing ever happens no more.’” “So how is it,” I inquire, “that you’re suddenly leading the charge against the ‘un’-natural gas industry’s not-so-secret weapon?”
Marc explains: “Six months ago I had the opportunity to play at a small club in North Branch, NY. A few days before the gig I called and they asked me, ‘Do you have any songs about fracking?’ [High volume hydraulic fracturing, please see this month’s Roll Eco for more-ed.] I said, ‘What’s that?’ They said, ‘It’s the biggest thing in our lives right now and you might look into it if you’re coming out here to play.’ So I did some research, and wrote the tune. I’m the designated songwriter in the family: holidays, birthdays, deathdays—you name it—I write the song. A few nights later I’m trying out ‘No Frackin’ Way’ on North Branch, and the place just goes nuts. The verse is written from the point of view of the gas company:”
“Hey, how you doin’
I just came by to say hello
I work for the gas company
I just happened to be in the neighborhood, you know
but I was thinkin’ you must be tired of workin’
that rake and that hoe
I could make you lots more money
than those potatoes
I know you probably heard
Lots of that propaganda
How fracking’s bad for the environment
and we’re out to destroy the land and
Blah, blah. Don’t believe it
it’s safe as the day is long
We drill, you collect money and nothing can go wrong.”
“So the chorus,” Marc continues, “comes as a something of a surprise, but by the time I get to it everybody’s got their cellphones out, videoing.”
“No frackin’ way
Not on my land
No frackin’ way
I’m talkin’ to you, man?
Don’t frack with me
And I won’t frack with you
Go frack yourself, bro…go home!”
“Now it was instantly obvious that I was touching something deep and powerful. After the show I got to meet with a lot of these people and I learned first hand how—because of the financial temptation—the issue was ripping families apart. The gas company is waving checks in the face of folks with little or no work...they’re dividing communities, putting people at each other’s throats. And I also learned how hellish the situation is that gets left behind: poisoned wells, poisoned people, animals with fur falling out, people with their hair falling out. It happens fast, too. It reminded me of Bhopal, India [one of the world’s worst industrial accidents] where thousands died and thousands more were soon to die and the powers that be...wished them luck.”
Not surprisingly, Marc soon recorded “No Frackin’ Way” in Woodstock with his band, including John Sebastian and Eric (“Dueling Banjos”) Weisberg. Though the song has since been sung at rallies as far away as Ireland and Australia, he wanted to finish it with a group sound indicative of the grass-roots community that first inspired him. So he put out an APB inviting regional protesters to appear in his video. Over a hundred people showed up at the Bearsville Theater with signs and more than enough righteous indignation to do the job. And they showed up. (As of this date a pledge to complete the video can be contributed to at www.pledgemusic.com/projects/nofrackingway.)
Marc is no stranger to public relations—his latest CD Songs From The Highway features the modern media cultural touchstone “I Love You Rachel Maddow”, which, no sooner was the video posted on YouTube, than it was tweeted by Keith Olbermann the very day he left the air, and as of today it’s enjoyed over 38,000 hits. The equally uplifting Harry Nilsson-esque “Oooh, I Love My Coffee”—complete with playful animated video—is another winner which has yet to be licensed by a franchise. Hopefully the release finds success, enough to counterbalance his more adventurous works like the “Stroke of Genius,” project, wherein Marc composed songs to ad man/stroke-survivor Dan Mountain’s verse; or the collaboration with the remarkable pianist Warren Bernhardt based on variations by Shostakovich.
But artistically, the most exciting thing about the peripatetic Mister Marc (at present) is the song he just now recorded under the discerning ear of Karl Berger—Creative Music Studio founder, godfather of world music—at Sertso Studios here in Woodstock. In a lyric reminiscent of a Dylan dirge, Marc tells the story of Mohamed Bouazizi, the poor fruit peddler whose self-immolation precipitated the fall of Tunisian President Ben Ali, and “lit the spark” of revolution still blazing across North Africa and the Middle East. Steve Gorn’s flute and the oud of Brahim Frigbane embroider the finest filigree on a strange minor-moded verse. The four-on-the-floor, rock chorus nailed down by Don Davis, Eric Parker, Mike Esposito, and the songwriter himself, attests that “Sometime a spark...will light up the world”. Indeed, Marc Black is on fire.
Marc Black and his band performs Saturday May 14, 12 PM at Club Helsinki, Hudson; and Sunday May 15, 2 PM, at the Riverkeeper Festival at Boscobel Restoration, 1601 Rte. 9D, Garrison. Visit www.marcblack.com for more information.
MARC BLACK - PICTURES OF THE HIGHWAY
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Een cd vol met prachtige liedjes. Elf stuks, waarvan er tien door Marc zelf zijn geschreven en ee...
Een cd vol met prachtige liedjes. Elf stuks, waarvan er tien door Marc zelf zijn geschreven en eentje is er van de hand van Dan Mountain. Sommige serieus maar zeker ook een aantal waar je heel vrolijk van wordt. Ik zal meteen maar mijn mening geven: de laatste cd 'Pictures Of The Highway' van Marc Black vind ik uitstekend.
Als scholier had Marc met zijn bandje, The Blades Of Grass, al een top 40 hit te pakken en hierdoor mochten zij het voorprogramma verzorgen van The Doors en Van Morrison. Dit was het begin van een lange carrière vol met hoogtepunten en eentje die al meer dan een dozijn cd’s opleverde. Marc weet zich altijd omringd door topmuzikanten. Zo speelde hij al samen met mensen als Levon Helms, Art Garfunkel, John Sebastian en Taj Mahal om er maar eens een paar te noemen. En ook op deze cd is de kwaliteit van de muzikanten weer groots. Wat te denken van drummer Steve Gadd, bassist Michael Esposito of Warren Bernhardt op de piano. Allemaal kanjers op hun instrument.
Het mysterieuze ‘Red Lite’ is het donker klinkende openingsnummer van de cd. Don Davis op sax blaast werkelijk prachtig tussen de regels van de tekst door. Een ode aan de koffie ‘Ooh I Love My Coffee’ is daarentegen zeer vrolijk. Het lijkt wat op ‘Let’s Talk Dirty In Hawaï’ van John Prine een nummer dat ook zo’n heerlijk zomers sfeertje kent. Als ik koffie zou moeten promoten dan wist ik het wel, dan zet ik dit nummer onder mijn commercial. ‘Every Map’ gaat, door het authentieke geluid van de steelgitaar, richting de countrymuziek en juist die afwisseling maakt deze cd zo leuk. Het gaat te ver om over elk nummer iets te vertellen dus pik er zo nog maar eens wat hoogtepunten uit; ‘Scots Bungalo’ heeft een lekker in het gehoor liggend melodietje en is hierdoor een nummer dat de meeste mensen leuk zullen vinden. Een echte roadsong ‘Moment Of Your Own Tears’ ontbreekt ook al niet op deze cd. Ach eigenlijk zijn alle nummers gewoon goed.
Marc heeft een goed in het gehoor liggende stem en zijn kwaliteiten als songwriter durf ik wel te vergelijken met die van bijvoorbeeld Randy Newman.
Marc Black has one of those voices like Art Garfunkel, that captures humanity so well. Backed by musicians to die for, this album will make you smile.
Label: Suma Records
Sets usually range from 40 minutes to an hour and a half. These days I'm emphasizing my more recent CD's. Covers thrown in here and there from folks like John Hurt, Muddy Waters, Ray Charles aka, the greats. Some humor, a bit of politics, and a touch of heartbreak. Basically, it's all about joy. Lookin' for it and lovin' it.