Mark will be moving to London for a year begining in January of '08, but making regular visits to the States for shows. He will be on the west coast throughout November of '07.
"It's my favorite song about a kleptomaniac girlfriend, Aquaman, a plastic bag...I hope it's yours." That is New York based singer/songwriter Mark Aaron James introducing a few of his quirky takes on universal themes. It was this take that lead Borders News to label his songs, "Some of the best and most introspective music we've heard in years."
Born in California and raised in Cocoa Beach, Florida, Mark Aaron James seemed an unlikely candidate for the Nashville songwriting scene. None the less, with a strong pop-rock-alternative background in tow, he enrolled in Music City's reputable Vanderbilt University. He soon became a popular fixture among the campus "porch party" circuit that years earlier had supported Indigo Girls and Ben Folds. Mark soon brought that following into the local songwriter venues where "music city's" famous "in the rounds" gave him a new challenge. Sharing the stage with some of Nashville's hit writers, he came to realize, "If you don't have a song as good as the writer before and after you, then you're just filler. It inspired me to focus on craft, along with emotion, to write more innovative songs." The inventive results lead to co-writes with some of Nashville's top songsmiths and his compositions being performed by everyone from Jimmy Buffet to the World Peace Choir.
The year following his critically acclaimed indi release, Mr. Wirehead, Mark was awarded Best Local Songwriter and Best Up and Coming Band in the The Nashville Scene's 2000 reader's poll. In the weekly mag, owned by NYC's Village Voice, Mark beat out John Hyatt, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and several other Nashville luminaries. With the release of his second indi-label CD, Adventures With A Plastic Bag, he repeated the feat in 2001. The title song from that CD went on to make the top 100 songs of the year on Nashville's WRLT Lightening 100, gained airplay on Atlanta's 99X and was added to 126 other CMJ reporting stations, charting in 12 markets.
Despite his success in Nashville, Mark was regularly being reminded that he was not a country singer in a country music town. After playing some well received shows in New York's Living Room and being featured on PBS's CD Highway and I-Dig's Rawdio programs, Mark decided it was time to make New York City his home base.
Since his move in 2002 he has headlined in venues as varied as the new Living Room, Rockwood Music Hall, The Bitter End, The Parkside Lounge and the Westbeth Theater. New York's Underground Music Organization (UMO) voted him one of the "Top 14 Singer/songwriters in Greenwich Village" twice and feature him as the opening track on their annual top 14 CD. With the completion of his upcoming CD, Just a Satellite, Mark found out that his song "June 17th" would be featured in the Dean Cain film, Lost. His new CD, "Use Both Hands" follows in the footsteps of his previous releases, with quirkly clever lyrics and inovative production.
Mark Aaron James and his band were raised by wild animals for a failed Disney documentary in the mid-seventies. The project went terribly awry when Swedish bass player, Victor Broden, brutally mauled a cameraman who came between him and his mate.
Devastated, and still living among the beavers in the multi-level dam they called home, the band kicked out the original drummer, Frisky Sutcliff, for the better smelling David Burch, from Knoxville, Tennessee.
It was during this period that the band began its "boyband" dancing phase. It proved largely unpopular due to the group's choreographer, their adopted father, a sixty pound beaver named Gip. Most of the dances consisted of the four-man band building a reinforcement wall using only their asses.
Guitarist Eric Halbig suggested the band try it's new direction, alternative/pop mixed with the bravado of rock & roll classics, after chewing a large redwood into a shiny red Stratocaster without chipping any teeth, (taken as a sign from the Almighty).
The band, still scarred by its brush with fame in the documentary, was skeptical. Then they heard that a good, independent band, without any industry contacts, didn't have a chance in hell of getting on corporate radio. Comforted by the promise of obscurity, they formed Mark Aaron James and The Borrowed Souls with the Floridian lead singer and award winning songwriter.
When they became the number two music act among the beavers, (trailing just behind a Grateful Dead tribute band made up of three dancing bears and Simon, of the chipmunks, who left due to Alvin's hogging the spotlight), they decided to take their act on the road. They don't bite (anymore)* so come see 'em.
*(We are not responsible if you feed or provoke the band in an attempt to test this statement).
SEE MUSIC VIDEOS, LIVE PERFORMANCES AND HEAR MORE MUSIC AT:
Mark performs with several different line-ups. His favorite way to play of late, however, is with a "boomerang loop peddle," creating some really incredible sound combinations. Using only his voice and the guitar, he creates bass lines, harmonies and percussion for a much fuller sound than the average solo musician. It's hard to describe, but in effect, he is a one man band. He can do the most simple, unplugged acoustic show as well, or arrange for a full 5 piece ensemble known as "The Borrowed Souls."
Mark Aaron James & The Borrowed Souls
Mr. Wirehead, featuring the "This Song's All About," a winner in the UNISONG and USA Songwriting Competitions
Adventures With A Plastic Bag featuring the title song played in 126 markets, charting in 12, featured on 99X in Atlanta and one of the top 100 songs of the year on Lightening 100.1 in Nashville, TN. (#72)
Just A Satellite, Mark's first CD as a New York resident. Features the song "When Are You Gone," chosen for the compelation CD "The Best 14 Songwriters of Greenwich Village." Also featuring "Kleptomaniac Girlfriend," Mark's first music video.
New CD, "Use Both Hands," was released in February '07.
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The fine people of the UMO, Underground Music Organization, have voted Mark one of the "Top 14 Songw...The fine people of the UMO, Underground Music Organization, have voted Mark one of the "Top 14 Songwriters in Greenwich Village" two years in a row. He has songs included on both UMO compilation CDs.
MAJ has recieved raves from
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Nov 1, 2006 CMJ Music Marathon Guide: Mark Aaron James makes sunny power-pop with a sense of humo...Nov 1, 2006 CMJ Music Marathon Guide:
Mark Aaron James makes sunny power-pop with a sense of humor and a big heart.
November Border's News:
OUR PICKS: ...This artist is definitely on the road to fame. His current album features some of the best and most introspective music we've heard in years. He is ammusing and witty in concert...you'll find his style of music addicting.
December 5, 2004 Uderground Music Org. :
"Mark Aaron James wows the crowd with his powerful vocals and amazing songs."
April, 2002 Tenessean:
Hot Spot. The record (Adventures With a Plastic Bag) strongly echoes Armed Forces-era Elvis Costello, which is to say, cool.
April 18, 2002 Nashville Scene
Adventures With A Plastic Bag has crisp, structured songcraft and a relaxed hipster vibe that harks back to the early '80s this-side-of-new-wave-rockers...with able support from comrades such as Jonell Mosser. And the cover of Alan O'Day's psychotic 1972 soft rock nugget "Angie Baby" is nothing if not surprising.
- Jim Ridley
From DigitalCity.com, October , '00
Once you've heard Mark and his guitar, you'll understand why Nashvillians voted him best local songwriter in a Nashville Scene readers' poll. His style is from rock, with a distinctively alternative vein sprinkled with a smidgen of pop. His lyrics are quirky at times, insightful and serious at other times. Whether he's playing old standards, original music, with his band The Borrowed Souls (made up of the best musicians from various groups) or alone with his guitar, Mark leaves you with the conviction that his title of best local songwriter is well deserved.
- Rebecca Malone Melo
From ONLINETV.COM, July 15th, 99
Mark Aaron James came in from Nashville to cook up some pretty incredible sounds. As jaded New York City dwellers we are not easy to please but Mark and his entourage set us back on our heals. We will be heading out to Nashville now after seeing the talent they have to offer.
From THE PERFORMING SONGWRITER, Jan/Feb 99 issue, by Neil Fagan
Mark Aaron James, "Mr. Wirehead"
Elvis Costello meets Abba? That's what comes to mind listening to Mark Aaron James' cover of "What's The Name Of The Game." Much like that Swedish quintet, James has a way with a hook. And like Costello, he matches his inventive melodies with crafty, clever word-play that won't insult your intelligence. It's the best of both worlds. Mr. Wirehead is James' second CD and it overflows with irresistible pop grooves. Unexpected chord progressions propel songs like "Playground In Your Heart," "Pick Up Your Pride," and the title track-which, by the way, is probably the first and last song you'll ever hear about a ceramic bust with a wire mohawk and a clock coming out of its ear. James shows a more tender side on the dreamy and nostalgic "June 17th." "Give A Damn" and "Mr. Ballantine" bring out more topical concerns; apathy in the former, family dysfunction in the latter. Ellis Paul's "Autobiography Of A Pistol" also gets a funky reworking. James' raspy tenor is especially effective. While his style is pure pop, the CD has a slight murkiness that could either be a by-product of the DIY world or perhaps an intentional production achievement. Grunge pop? Still, it does little to hold down the helium-filled hooks that James is so good at.
Set lists are usually original songs with many creative covers thrown in. Length and content adjusted to fit the show. Mark can do up to 3 hours shows of original music.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.