Mark Ceaser
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Mark Ceaser

| SELF | AFM

| SELF | AFM
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter

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"Album Review"

The result is a beautiful effort.

8-out-of-10
BURMA ROAD
Mark Ceaser
Independent


Mark Ceaser is a Yorkton boy now in Saskatoon, where he is very much involved in his music. Ceaser is part of Sexually Attracted to Fire, whose self-titled debut was reviewed here last July.

Now with the release of Burma Road, Ceaser has ventured out with a solo effort.
The CD is an EP, only five songs, but they are at least five wonderful songs.
This is soft rock, although Ceaser clearly has a folkie sensibility in how he approaches writing.
When you combine that, there is an option for Ceaser to get a definite country feel going at times.
For example; Highway 16 is a song that is as Western Canadian in nature as any song you are going to hear. It is a song that resonates because of the imagery. Musically, the song is reflective of the song Copperhead Road, itself something of a cross-over hit, and Highway 16 is a direct descendant in a sense.
One of the strengths Ceaser manages is to sing about here. He has found places such as Highway 16, and Saskatoon as influences worthy of using in his songs.
The result is a beautiful effort such as Willow Tree. The song has its share of emotion which resonates beyond any one locale, yet Ceaser weaves in typically Saskatchewan images; a summerfallow field, a willow tree, that as a listener you relate. Nicely done, as a song which could cross from country radio to soft rock quite easily.
Knife and Key is less about Saskatchewan, but is no less compelling. It's another example of Ceaser's ability to capture emotion in his work.
This is a highly credible calling card as an EP, and one that makes you wish there was just two, or three more songs fleshing out the effort.

Check it out at www.myspace.com/markceaser
-- CALVIN DANIELS (Yorkton This Week - Wed May 20, 2009)
- Calvin Daniels - Yokton This Week


"Shcool band program helped to define artist"

The material on the CD reflect having grown up and influenced by rual life.

School band program helped to define artist
By Calvin Daniels
Yokton This Week
Wed May 20, 2009

Mark Ceaser has released a debut solo CD Burma Road.
Ceaser, who grew up in Yorkton, but moved to Saskatoon after graduation, said he really cut his musical teeth in the school band program in Yorkton.
“If you want to go back to the very beginnings of my formal music training that takes us back to Grade 5 when I joined concert band playing the alto saxophone,” he said. “Although I never play my sax anymore, I did learn a lot of valuable lessons and techniques I apply when writing and performing my music such as; tempos, time signatures, pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and most importantly; listen to your bandmates. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Linsley.
“In Grade 8 I picked up a cheap, dusty,old, beat up guitar I found in my grandparent’s basement and taught myself how to play the riff from Smoke On the Water. I was hooked. I must have played that riff a thousand times. I’ve never had any formal training on guitar. I find the best way to learn to play guitar is to jam with people better than you. Learning to play guitar can be a slow process, but it’s also very rewarding.”
Along the way to refining his craft Ceaser said he has drawn on varied influences, starting with the music he heard as a youth.
“When you’re young you really have no choice but to listen to your parents’ music,” he said. “Luckily my mom had good taste in music. I remember listening to Golden Earring, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, and Duran Duran a lot. I still love that music. I guess that covers the rock/pop genres.
“Growing up on the farm outside of Yorkton I couldn’t help but listen to country radio too.
“I tend to gravitate towards songs with hooky guitar riffs, memorable melodies, and interesting stories. Consequently, the music I write has a strong rock ‘n roll influence mixed with indie folk, sometimes outright countrified.”
The material on the CD reflect having grown up and influenced by rual life.
“The material for the album is very much centered around growing up in rural Saskatchewan,” said Ceaser. “The title of the album, Burma Road, is in fact the grid road that bordered our farmland east of Yorkton. All the songs on the album have connection to actual people, places, or events.”
Ceaser said the material for the five songs accumulated over several months.
“The writing process was about a year,” he said. “One of my favourite processes of writing is actually the re-writing. The toughest part of writing a song is coming up with the original idea. Once you have a solid idea the possibilities for the song are endless.
“Even now that the album is manufactured I still enjoy changing the arrangements to keep the live performances fun and fresh for both me and the audience. I like when bands change their songs from the album versions. Why spend money to see a band perform their music exactly as they do on their album, right? I like variety and creativity.”
The album was produced and recorded in Saskatoon.
“The album was recorded at Cosmic Pad Studios in Saskatoon by Ross Nykiforuk,” said Ceaser. “Ross is the keyboard player for the Northern Pikes and writes music for television and film. One of Ross’ most note worthy projects was scoring the music for the television series “Due South” along with Pikes frontman Jay Semko.”
Ceaser said the actual experience of getting into the studio was a good one for him.
“I enjoy recording in the studio,” he said. “It’s easy to experiment and try new things with songs. If the new ideas don’t work, they are easily erased. Some of my songs evolved a lot in the studio.”
Ceaser had recorded previously with the band Sexually Attracted to Fire, but said there was an allure to going it alone as a solo performer.
“Becoming a solo musician was a very conscious decision,” he said. “Finding bandmates that share the same dedication, values, and goals is very tough. I always found it a struggle to get things done with a band because three other people always needed to agree. I’ve accomplished more in six-months as a solo musician than I did in four years with a band.”
And, Ceaser said he likes what those six months have produced too.
“I’m very happy with my album,” he said. “I feel a great sense of accomplishment.”
- Yorkton This Week - Calvin Daniels


"Album Review"

prepare to be smitten

Mark Ceaser
Burma Road
Independent

Burma Road is the first solo effort from Saskatoon-based Mark Ceaser (also a member of Sexually Attracted to Fire). At first it’s just good-natured country/folk-rock, but the music quickly turns into a gentle melancholy rhapsody of life, love, and longing in the prairies.
If you dig either genre, prepare to be smitten. And even if those aren’t your scenes, perhaps Mark Ceaser’s infectious lyrics and beautiful guitar playing will win you over anyway.
The album starts off with “Highway 16”, an upbeat folk-rock tune about the desire to abandon stagnant prairie life for a highway to the unknown. “Willow Tree” slows the pace a bit with a poignant, tragic love story. The only fault with this track is the repetition of the words “our willow tree”—it reminds me a little bit of the annoying “na na na”s from The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” but with such gorgeous opening instrumentation from Ceaser on the song, all is forgiven.
“Fall Apart” speeds things up again for another safe and steady folk-rock track, with some country leanings. “Heart of Mine” doesn’t grab the ear as much as the other tracks—probably because of its gravitation towards pop music—while “Knife and Key” provides a warm, gentle ending to Burma Road, and closing with a reverberating amp at the end as a nice touch.
- Gateway - Beth Storheim


"Album Review"

adolescent super-conscience memory we all share


Mark Ceaser – Burma Road

Living in Saskatchewan, pretty much everyone can claim influence as a
country boy/girl. Our cities are significantly sized urban enclosures,
but we remain corralled on all sides with countryside, wetlands,
plains, pastures. Ceaser’s Burma Road portrays the rustic
idiosyncrasies of the prairies, with songs that serve as both quaint
pastoral sentiment and boot-stomp bonfire sing-a-longs. There’s
clearly a ton of classic rock and roll influence, with hearty helpings
of modern indie-folk, sometimes outright countrified. “Highway 16”,
an escape song, “it don’t matter where the hell I go / as long as you
take me down the YellowHead road” could have come from a Bright Eyes
playlist. The influences mesh well, as on “Heart of Mine”, when he
reverts from a confessed pop-folk chorus to begin out rightly
stripping the peeling paint off splintered hearts and fence-posts of
the classically defensive country refrain. Produced and engineered by
Ross Nykiforuk, whose touch also endows several Sheepdog’s releases,
is an excellent choice here, and contributes simple and mesmerizing
keys. Roadtrips, carving lovers names in trees, staring at the night
sky, Mark Ceaser pulls from the classic adolescent super-conscience
memory we all share; personal roots, life’s branches, love’s breeze
and time’s dawn n’ dusk.
- I, Lion - Neighbourhood Express


Discography

Burma Road (2009)

Photos

Bio

Press:

"That's a really great record." Randy Bachman - CBC Radio 2

"At first it’s just good-natured country/folk-rock, but the music quickly turns into a gentle melancholy rhapsody of life, love, and longing in the prairies. If you dig either genre, prepare to be smitten. And even if those aren’t your scenes, perhaps Mark Ceaser’s infectious lyrics and beautiful guitar playing will win you over anyway." Beth Storheim - The Gateway (Edmonton, AB)

”…classic rock and roll influence, with hearty helpings of modern indie-folk, sometimes outright countrified. Ceaser’s Burma Road portrays the rustic idiosyncrasies of the prairies, with songs that serve as both quaint pastoral sentiment and boot-stomp bonfire sing-a-longs.” I, Lion – The Neighbourhood Express (Saskatoon, SK)

"The result is a beautiful effort ..." Calvin Daniels - Yorkton This Week (Yorkton, SK)

“Thumbs up was the consensus.” – Star Phoenix (Saskatoon, SK)

“…unpretentious and likeable…” – Planet S (Saskatoon, SK)

Bio:

What do you get when you combine: a master’s degree in economics, a home care worker, a left-handed ginger, and an incredible desire to be the center of attention? Mark Ceaser. His percussive guitar and heavy rhythm set the tone for his sincere story telling and emotionally driven songwriting.

He began is journey raised on a farm by his grandparents just outside of Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Throwing rocks at cars and picking fights in the school yard, Mark used sports as a way to express himself. Somewhere in his high school career he realized he'd get more chicks with a guitar. And since he is left handed he restrung and turned his grandpa's old guitar upside down and began to play.

Mark Ceaser needed to get the hell out of small town Saskatchewan and went to university in the big city of Saskatoon. There he played volleyball for the Saskatchewan Huskies, consistently out drank his roommates on the weekends (and weekdays), and went on to procure himself three degrees (including a master’s in economics).

During his masters degree program he began to play more and more music and formed a band, named Sexually Attracted to Fire, with a fellow Yorkton boy, Steven Maier. The band went on to clubs and festivals including the Regina Folk Festival, Ness Creek Music Festival, JunoFest, and Canadian Music Week. As the band grew in popularity Mark realized that while he enjoyed numbers and the theory of supply and demand what really made his eyes sparkle was playing music.

When Sexually Attracted to Fire went their separate ways and Mark was finally finished his master’s degree, he decided that becoming "The Man" wasn't the road for him. He placed the degrees on his wall and began recording his first solo album, "Burma Road," with Northern Piker, Ross Nykiforuk. To pay the bills in the meantime he became a home care support worker taking care of adults with intellectual disabilities. Most of Mark’s song writing happens at work, unbeknown to his boss, where he is able to try out new material on the folks he supports. “People with intellectual disabilities don’t lie; they have no reason to. If a song is good, you see it in their eyes, smiles, and feet!”

Mark Ceaser's songs are a collection of experiences, emotions, and responses to the many lives he has led; blended with a backdrop of modern folk and alt-country.