Charles Harper and Mark Hayward
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Charles Harper and Mark Hayward

Band Christian Country


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Our first release is "Positivity" which explores life, love, the call to duty and paying the ultimate sacrifice



ANXIOUS BENCH MUSIC is the creative partnership of Charles R. (Russ) Harper and Mark Hayward, involving composing, arranging, recording, and performing their original music flavored by influences including country, rock, jazz, rhythm and blues, and gospel. Anxious Bench Music is also a BMI-affiliated music publisher. Russ and Mark met while serving together as active duty Soldiers at the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Band, stationed at Fort Monroe, Virginia. On November 7, 2006, one of their first collaborations, “Victory Starts Here,” was adopted as TRADOC’s official song. This song and another Harper-Hayward tune, “I Need You Now,” are featured on the TRADOC Band’s forthcoming CD release, “Victory Starts Here.”

The first Anxious Bench album, “Positivity,” has been a work in progress since the summer of 2006. It was released on December 20th, 2006, and is currently available for purchase at cdbaby.comand for digital download at numerous digital sites. The CD consists of original songs by Soldiers about Soldiers. It presents Anxious Bench versions of the two songs mentioned above, as well as ten other Harper/Hayward originals in their unique blend of country, rock, and Americana influences. The album can be heard as a musical expression of a Soldier’s service, as suggested by the titles He Got the Call, In God I Trust, Baghdad Blues, Surrounded by Heroes, Some Things Never Change, and Arabian Nights. Other songs explore love and family relationships, such as Song for My Father, You’re My Angel, You Give Me Love, and Hand in Hand. Though “Positivity” showcases their talents in performance, arranging, engineering, and production, it is primarily meant to demonstrate their strengths as songwriters. Future Anxious Bench releases `will provide opportunities for Russ and Mark to explore more of their other influences and interests.

RUSS – Performs almost all of Anxious Bench’s lead vocals, as well as contributing most of the background vocals and engineering, and some keyboard work. Born in Washington, Georgia. At the age of eight, toured around South Carolina and Georgia with the family’s Southern gospel group. Joined the school band and learned to play saxophone. In high school learned to play drums, piano, and guitar. After graduating from high school, joined the US Army as an administrative specialist. Maintained involvement in music through church, both singing and choir directing, and other avenues. While stationed in Germany joined the US Army Europe Soldiers Chorus, and became Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the Chorus as well as the bass section leader. Has sung for Soldiers, civilians, Members of Congress, Governors, Prime Ministers, and Presidents all over the world. Currently stationed at Fort Monroe, VA as the primary vocalist for the US Army Training and Doctrine Command Band, including its contemporary music group, TRADOC ROCK.

MARK – Performs all of Anxious Bench’s guitar work, utilizing electric and acoustic guitars and guitar synthesizer, most of the arranging, and some of the vocals. Born in Utica, New York. As a teenager, learned alto saxophone, banjo, guitar, and piano, and performed with school bands and local groups in Leavenworth, Kansas, and Hampton, Virginia. Began writing songs in 9th grade and decided on guitar as favorite instrument. In addition to a not-so-stellar year at the College of William and Mary, studied arranging at the Berklee College of Music in Boston for several semesters. Returned to Hampton and tried to make a living by performing in all kinds of musical groups, teaching guitar and music theory, and directing a church choir. Successfully auditioned for the Army band at Fort Monroe, Virginia, and began over 24 years of active duty as an Army bandsman, performing all over the United States and in Bermuda, South Korea, Germany, Kosovo, and Iraq on guitar, bass, vocals, banjo, and percussion. Currently stationed at Fort Monroe with the US Army TRADOC Band, leads TRADOC ROCK, and also plays guitar and sings.