Mark Perry
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Mark Perry

Smithers, British Columbia, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2000 | INDIE

Smithers, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2000
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"Smithers singer playing Artspace on Saturday"

New Jersey has Springsteen, New York has Billy Joel, northern B.C. has Mark Perry.

These are the storytellers of their times and places. It doesn't mean throwing the name of their town into the lyrics to "repra-zent," it means infusing the song with lifeblood depictions of the people you live with. Billy Joel never once sang "boy is New York ever big." He described the newspapers people read in the morning, the kind of wine that paired with your steet-side cafe food, the fish you could catch or not catch off of Long Island, which streets weren't safe to walk at night.
n this region, Mark Perry was one of the first to paint our picture, northern portraits, inside the lyrics of popular songs.

He has been singing them across the local landscape from his Smithers home since the radio still spoke to us in AM frequencies. He's still doing it today.


"There is a strength to being connected to your music, living the songs," Perry said.

He felt it in a numbing wave one day at a sold-out concert in Prince Rupert when he performed a tune called Spirit Of The North about the tragic sinking of the Inside Passage ferry in 2006. One of the fans came to him after the show and wanted to buy one of his older albums because she had lost her first copy and wanted it replaced.

It was in her van on the Queen of the North when it sank.

That's how interlaced a songwriter can be when attention is paid to actualities.

"Songwriting is way more important than anything else (in the music industry's collection of professions), so many topics that have to be covered," he said. "This record (his brand new release called Right Here) I've got a song called Missing. I have a friend writing a book on the Highway Of Tears, I was talking to her - I have a previous song also called Highway Of Tears off a previous album - and she told me 'do you know there are more missing men than women?' and that made my jaw drop. And my drummer told me something once that really stuck and that is it's everybody's job to talk about it."

But not all his ballads are sad or heavy. He wraps his smooth, earthy voice around songs about hockey, loving snapshots about places like Port Essington and the Skeena River.

"I even have one called Go Cubs Go and its about the Moricetown Cubs, the baseball team, and if you get a chance to see the record there's a photo of the team," of he said. "I think, like for a lot of communities, sports gives a chance for people to all get together for something."

Perry is a throwback to the times when folk and country music were only separated by a chord or two.

Even though his arrangements lean heavily on unplugged acoustic instruments, he sparks the electricity felt by a listener when a musician dials up so close it feels like no one else is in the room but the two of you.

This relationship is amplified by that familiarity in the subject matter. He has a knack for storytelling, so he certainly has the mechanics to pen a protest song, but he thinks those grander topics of the world would take him away from the inspirations that matter to him the most, and those are almost invariably local.

"It's really hard to like America right now, and you've gotta remember there's a lot of great people there, but it's just too big for me," he said. "I like real stuff that you can grasp. You live it, and it'll come out in the song. I just want to connect honestly with people, that's what real songwriting is. It's always been a privilege, really. It's such an honour and it never goes away."

He will be bringing two accomplished musicians - Ian Olmstead on bass and accordion, Mark Thibeault on electric guitar and steel guitar - to this area for the first exposure of his new album. Perry will perform on Saturday at Artspace at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance from Books & Company or $20 at the door.

It's an Omineca-Cariboo sandwich concert, with Quesnel on Friday at The Occidental and Fort St. James on Sunday at the Pope Mountain Arts Centre. - Prince George Citizen


"B.C.'s beauty inspires Mark Perry's 11th album, Right Here"

'I'd love to one day be as famous as he is in Smithers,' says Juno-winning Alex Cuba of hometown music hero.

Even though he's won Junos and Latin Grammys, singer-songwriter Alex Cuba doesn't believe he is the most popular musician in his adopted hometown of Smithers, in northwestern B.C.'s Bulkley Valley.

That honour, Cuba says, belongs to Mark Perry.

"Mark is like a local hero," Cuba said while introducing Perry's song Northern Sky to listeners on CBC's My Playlist. "It's very amazing for me to see how much his music means to the people that live in the Bulkley Valley."

"I'd love to one day be as famous as he is in Smithers, B.C."

Born and raised in Smithers, Perry said he reciprocates that love right back, drawing his inspiration for the region's natural landscape for his latest album, Right Here, released March 9.

"You look at that Skeena River and the mountains running into it... and you just go 'Holy mackerel,'" he told CBC Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk.

"It's to be celebrated and talked about."

Right Here is Perry's 11th album since releasing his debut in 1990, recorded in folk singer Roy Forbes' studio in Vancouver.

For his latest, he traveled to Whitehorse and brought in friends to record at home in Smithers.

"There's a comfort factor," he said. "There's really this kind of close-knit feeling on this record."

He's also drawing on the backdrop of northwestern B.C. more, in songs exploring environmental concerns, local history and cheering for the Moricetown Cubs baseball team.

"I'm appreciating it more," Perry said.

"We have incredible people here, and there's stories all over the place." - CBC News


"Mark Perry’s ‘northwesty’ perspective is Right Here"

The Smithers area is rife with great performers, and while some of them like Alex Cuba have gathered an international audience, perhaps the most popular of all among the locals is home town artist Mark Perry.

His 11th album release Right Here is a very comfortable album full of songs that local inhabitants can all relate to.

Songs like Go Cubs Go make us all think about the history of the area and the activity that makes it so special. Others such as Mountain Bluebird make us think of the little things that help us get through the long winters and still smile with the appearance of a little feathered friend.


Perry loves the area and his concert was much more than a chance to hear him sing live.

At times, he was like a stand-up comedian and there were times he was more like a historian helping us remember some forgotten part of life in the area.

At the outset of the concert, he announced that he would be donating $5 of each CD sold to diabetes research.

“The subject matter of the album is ‘northwesty.’ It’s about the larger area here and the life in it,” he said.

It was an entirely entertaining evening that was over too soon.

The CD will help bring back some of the wonderful feeling Perry brought out at the concert.

More show dates during his album release concert are available at markperry.ca. - Black Press


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

A Mark Perry concert is like a Canadian roadtrip…


from playing hockey on
frozen lakes, to trading a car for “two cords of wood and 24 beer”, to that
time you were sinking on a west coast ferry.


New Jersey has
Springsteen, New York has Billy Joel, northern BC has Mark Perry. These are the
storytellers of their times and places,”
 salutes music reviewer Frank Peebles in the Prince
George Citizen
.


This Singer-Songwriter has 11
albums out, a huge following in his northern Canadian region and is now emerging
into the wider music world. “I'd love to one day be as famous as he is around
here,” says Grammy-nominated and Juno Award-winning Alex Cuba who lives in the
same northern BC town.


Perry is a master of writing songs that stick — paying tribute to unique characters and real events in rural
Canada, and tapping into things that resonate with us all. He has a candid
stage presence and an honest connection with crowds who are transfixed by his
dirt road ballads one moment and energized by a river-rising frolic the next. Rich vocals & guitar are accompanied by everything from
accordion & violin to pedal steel & bass.


As a
singer-songwriter, he’s getting noticed as “the real
thing” by reviewers at Folk
Alliance International 2019
who compared him to Martin Joseph, Bruce
Cockburn, and Gordon Lightfoot.


Perry tours as a trio
or full band with various musical compadres including Tobin Frank
(bass/accordion), Mark Thibeault (pedal steel/electric guitar), Kiri Daust
(violin), Ian Olmstead (percussion/vocals/bass/accordion), Mip (bass/vocals), Rachelle
van Zanten (slide/electric guitar/vocals), and Richard Jenne (percussion). He
recorded his 1st album in the late 1990s with his west coast hero Roy
Forbes (Bim), produced 10 more with acclaimed producers Steve
Dawson, Hugh McMillan, Bob Hamilton, Joby Baker & Jordy Walker, and released his
most recent album, Right Here, in 2018. He has new song releases coming
out in 2019 – watch for Cold Road and
Golden Spruce.

Band Members