Mark Bilyeu Band
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Mark Bilyeu Band


Band Americana Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Pop Culture Press"

“From this rambunctious Berry-esque-meets-Bottle Rockets rocker to the haunting, sublime wail of album opener “Antique Dreams,” Ozark-area singer/writer Mark Bilyeu’s solo debut has all the hallmarks of an Americana classic.” - Austin, TX


"From the stellar guitar playing, to the outstanding song quality, First One Free is a gem. Tear off the cellophane, open the jewel case and enjoy one of the best records of the year." - Being There

"Ozark Mountain Daredevils"

First One Free has rekindled my belief that music still has power and that it still matters. It's refreshing, bold, and important. - John Dillon

"Columbia Tribune"

First One Free showcases Bilyeu’s musical strength and versatility…(he) proves himself as a clever wordsmith. - Seth Ashley

"Illinois Times"

First One Free is a wonderfully expressive piece of work full of enticing lyrics, energized music, and engrossing character. Overall I rate it a damn good listen. - Tom Irwin

"Kansas City Star and KKFI"

Ozark-bred singer/songwriters Cindy Woolf and Mark Bilyeu have this much in common: They’re individual originals. Doing their own thing hasn’t stopped them from making authentic American music together in the recording studio and on the road.

"First One Free" was listed in "10 best albums of 2005" by the Springfield News-Leader, Springfield, Missouri and the Kansas City Star, Kansas City; Single, "Don't Need So Much" was among the “Top 30 Songs of 2005” on Kansas City’s 90.1 KKFI.
- Brian McTavish, Kansas City, MO

"Moors Magazine"

Bilyeu is a great guitar player, and he certainly shows it here…he’s a great singer, and last but not least he writes great songs that keep us singing and whistling them all day long. Other songwriters must feel jealousy listening to a truly great song like ‘Paint’ (track 12) that shows perfectly what this guy can do with lyrics. This one’s as strong as any Dylan… Bilyeu has made an album that’s both sharp and laidback…it gets better with each spin – in fact it’s easy to get addicted to this album – you keep playing it and enjoy it more and more. An absolute top album.
- Holly Moors

"Blue Mountain"

"In my humble-pie opinion, Mark is one of the best songwriter-musicians I have known, and I've known a lot."
- Cary Hudson, Hattiesburg, MS

"Fayetteville Free Weekly"

Bilyeu writes songs that pull you in to [his] space and performs them with passion. They bring back memories of early The Band days, with added spice…a top-shelf songwriter and player
- Fayetteville, AR

"True/False Film Festival"

Homemade Hillbilly Jam introduces us to Mark Bilyeu, Big Smith's unpretentious, rootsy and soon-to-be-legendary singer-songwriter.

Read More about the documentary "Homemade Hillbilly Jam," featuring Mark Bilyeu, his family and other band Big Smith at: - Paul Sturtz, Festival Director


Mark's debut album "First One Free"
Listen to songs by clicking on AUDIO LINK

"First One Free" received 8 weeks of radio promotion from Space 380 at over 300 radio stations nationwide.

Single, "Don't Need So Much" was featured on Pop Culture Press Magazine's compilation CD that was distributed to over 6,000 music fans. (Austin, TX)


Feeling a bit camera shy


As part of the Ozarks family band Big Smith, Mark Bilyeu has served as de facto front man for the band of five cousins, although songwriting and lead vocal duties have always been shared between the various members. Big Smith has released five CDs: two studio recordings of original material, two live CDs (one in a church, the other in a bar) and a celebrated double CD for kids. Since 1996, Big Smith has toured extensively, exposing many thousands to Bilyeu’s guitar playing, singing and songwriting.

In January of 2005 Bilyeu began working on an album of his own. Recorded at Route 1 Recording in southern Mississippi, "First One Free" finds Bilyeu moving from the primarily acoustic hillbilly-bluegrass sound of Big Smith to something more akin to country-folk-rock (choose what ever hyphenated term you like). He enlists some well-known Mississippi musicians to back him up in the studio, including guitarist Cary Hudson (ex-Blue Mountain, now touring solo), drummer Ted Gainey (Kudzu Kings, Cary Hudson trio), and lap steel guitarist Max Williams (Taylor Grocery Band, Thacker Mountain Radio). Likewise the album reflects the distinctly southern country and blues influences of its players. To keep a taste of home, yet another of Bilyeu’s cousins, Bill Thomas, plays bass guitar and sings backup on the record. The sessions were relaxed and easy. Bilyeu not only was able to stretch out on the electric guitar, trading licks with his personal guitar hero Hudson, but also explored new territory on the piano and Hammond organ.

To recreate the sounds of "First One Free" on the road, Bilyeu has enlisted the talents of Thomas and two other musicians from his native Springfield, Missouri: keyboardist Joe Terry and drummer Bobby Lloyd Hicks, both veterans of the Skeletons but who can also currently be heard playing with Dave Alvin’s Guilty Men. Terry and Hicks, in fact, can be heard backing Alvin on his 2001 Grammy-award winning album Public Domain. The soulful virtuosity of these musicians will certainly push the music into new and exciting directions on stage.