Mark Bates
Gig Seeker Pro

Mark Bates

Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Mark Bates - Down The Narrow"

Mark Bates – Down the Narrow

by Janet Goodman

We are the sum of our lives’ experiences. For new artist Mark Bates, it seems that he is one part grandson of a Pentecostal preacher, one part classically trained trumpeter, one part small town West Virginian and one part guardian of secrets that will only be revealed through his remarkable music. His stunning sophomore release is the Americana offering, “Down the Narrow”, produced by Mark Thayer; ten of the eleven tracks are penned by the 21-year-old shining hope for a new generation of singer/songwriters who are honest almost to a fault.

With vocals tinged by real or imaginary smoking embers of life, Bates tells dark tales of voodoo, prostitution, domestic violence and murder, but somehow he manages to humanize these events, softening their starkness. His characters are flawed, his ideas are fresh and his scenes are cinematic. With the poet’s heart of Bob Dylan, the bohemian flair of Tom Waits and memorable melodies reminiscent of The Band, he lures in listeners like moths to a flame, knowing we are sinners, too, as much as the lost, hard-living personae are in his songs.

With Bates at the piano, opening track “Clean Through” tells of steadfast love in spite of all the pain, winning us over with a catchy chorus: “You hug so hard/Thorns on your arms/I bleed for you/And all that you are/I’ll never forsake you/As long as I live/Or forget the good things/That you’ve had to give/I love you no matter what you do/You can cut me clean through/Still I believe in you…”

His weary Neil Young-like vocals and lonesome harmonica on “The Promised Land” calmly lead us through a song about revenge-killing justice. In contrast, emotions are raw and exposed on stellar track “A Drunkard’s Holiday”. Bates’ lyrics deftly reveal a disturbing story of the unraveling of a family at Christmas time, uncomfortably placing us with a raging husband and father left behind in the ruins of his own making: “Stacy took the kids and Mama’s in the hospital/Daddy’s still in the ground/Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve, I’ll still be drunk by then/Gonna get me some gasoline, drive into town/And burn down that Christmas tree/That’s standing up on Main Street…”

Hit chorus melodies are everywhere on this record, like on “The Show is Over”; here, his soulful-falsetto refrain is just “La da da, la da da da”, but it sticks like Krazy Glue in our heads. Lost souls will relate to “My Way Back Home”, where Bates shows his knack for putting lumps in listeners’ throats. It’s his undeniable honesty that touches us, and I can think of no better reason to sit down with a CD than to be moved.

One oddity apparent on this album is Bates’ penchant for unorthodox lyric hook placement, or disregard for it entirely. This throws the listener off-balance, but maybe that is part of his diabolical plan, along with his troupe of imperfect story-tellers, confessing their transgressions in first person from the singer’s perspective. Mark Bates’ “Down the Narrow” is a collection of prisms, offering intriguing peeks at the inner workings of a masterpiece maker.

Check out his website:

(c) 2005-2010 MNN Enterprises, LLC. Music News Nashville is designed, owned

and published by Dan Harr. All rights reserved.

- Janet Goodman ( Music News Nashville)

"Mark Bates - Down The Narrow"

Mark Bates – Down The Narrow

Acht jaar geleden zong hij als dertienjarig jochie gospelliedjes in de kerk. Tegenwoordig is de uit Nashville afkomstige Mark Bates een getalenteerde vertolker van americana en rock. Recent bracht hij zijn debuut-cd uit. Mark kreeg in de studio hulp van Dave Mattacks (drums), Richard Gates (basgitaar), Duke Levine (elektrische gitaar en pedal steel), Joe Med (saxofoon en klarinet) en David Jiles en Carolyn Marsh voor de achtergrondvocalen. De verantwoordelijke persoon die het geheel een mooi afgeronde sound heeft meegegeven is Mark Thayler. Als producer van singer-songwriters en americana-artiesten is hij zeker geen onbekende. Ook op “Down the Narrow” laat hij zijn vakkundigheid weer gelden.

De nummers klinken als de teksten: sober en ingetogen. Mark Bates is een pure verhalenverteller in zijn nummers, die rijkelijk worden omlijst door zijn muzikale hulptroepen. Hij probeert in zijn teksten een bepaalde situatie met humor minder droevig te maken. Het zijn liedjes waar de emoties van afdruipen. Tussen alle ellende is ook plaats voor een beetje vreugde in het gospelnummer The Promised Land. De semi-rocker Forbidden Love wordt opgeluisterd met een sublieme gitaarsolo van Duke Levine. Ook de gospelblues Daisy is voorzien van een lekker smerige gitaarsound. Met een dissonante stem à la Neil Young laat Mark een prachtig gedegen interpretatie horen van Townes Van Zandts Flyin’ Shoes. Het album wordt afgesloten in aanstekelijke New Orleans stijl in het nummer Death Sucks. Hopelijk is de toon gezet voor een tweede album. “Down the Narrow” is een prachtig en meeslepend debuut van Mark Bates. Door de hoge kwaliteit verdient de plaat het om aandacht te krijgen van de andere altcountry-websites en radiostations.

(Johan Schoenmakers) - Johan Schoenmakers ( Alt Country Forum)


" Down The Narrow" ( 2009)- Produced by Mark Thayer and co., ( James Taylor, Chris Smither, Mark Erelli)



The grandson of a Pentecostal Preacher, Mark Bates grew up going to a small church in a small town. Old time gospel music filled the services, and by the age of 13, Mark was singing sad songs about fire, brimstone, and wasted years. The characters in these songs became the genesis and focus of his work. A pianist and singer at heart, Mark has spent his early career trying to find the beauty of quiet desperation, the honesty in broken dreams, and the humor that's hiding in every sad situation. In 2009, Mark went into the studio and recorded his first album " Down The Narrow" produced by Mark Thayer of Signature Sounds ( Mark Erelli, Chris Smither). Born in Hurricane, WV, Mark is 21 years old and has written over 200 songs. He has conducted the West Virginia Symphony, traveled as a professional jazz trumpet player, and recorded a full length album. In the vein of Lucinda Williams and Tom Waits, Mark's music has strong Americana roots and is centered around storytelling. Mark currently lives as a full time musician in Nashville, TN. P.O Box 22988, Nashville TN, 37202-2988 All photographs on this website were taken by my good friend and the wonderfully talented Jonathan Glen Wood.