Mark Growden

Mark Growden

BandAmericanaCabaret

Soulful, nuanced, and deep americana noir. Powerful vocals accompanied by accordion, banjo, and lap steel. Performs solo or with an ensemble.

Biography

Mark Growden is an internationally renowned multi-instrumentalist and artist based in San Francisco, CA.

As a composer, multi-instrumentalist and performer, Mark Growden has released several critically acclaimed albums. He has completed many successful US tours, performing at venues such as the Fillmore and Great American Music Hall in San Francisco and Tonic and The Knitting Factory in New York.

Growden has composed original musical scores for a number of dance and theater companies including Joe Goode Performance Group, The Crucible’s Fire Oddyssey, and Alonzo King’s Lines Contemporary Ballet with whom he won the Isadora Duncan Award for Best Original Score for a New Dance Piece. Growden has also scored several films including “Blood Tea and Red String” which won Best Animation at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival and at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal.

Growden co-founded and co-produces the underground site-specific performance series COVERT along with famed artist and troublemaker John Law, of Cacophony Society and Suicide Club fame.

Growden’s newest album, “Saint Judas,” is his first studio album of songs in eight years. Recorded live in the studio, it is a stunning exploration of moments of pain and catharsis, love and transformation, tenderness and desire. “Saint Judas” is a rich and haunting collection of stories and melodies that embraces and celebrates the saints and sinners in each of us.

Mark's draws his infuence from a wide range of musical artists, such as: Igor Stravinsky, John Coltrane, Claude Debussy, Eric Dolphy, Maurice Ravel, Charles Mingus, Henry Threadgill, Lomax field recordings especially of prison work songs from the American South, Amalia Rodriguez, Diamanda Galas, Erik Satie, Aaron Copeland, Meredith Monk, Al Green, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Bessie Jones, Nina Simone, Blind Willie Johnson, Bluitt Baritone Nation, David Bowie, Howlin' Wolf, Los Lobos, Latin Playboys, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Hildegard von Bingen, Steve Reich

Here's what the press has to say:
“Growden’s voice is bigger than a 10-story building, and when he clacks his cowboy boots on a hollow patch of floor along to some of his tunes, the sound seems to reverberate across the globe.” – Laura Casey, Contra Costa Times

“Fiery, earthy and sublimely sensual.” – Comet Magazine

“A sight and sound you don’t want to miss.” – S.F. Bay Guardian

“An unusual and voracious talent.” – Willamette Week

“Mark Growden has to be on of California’s most colorful and intriguing musicians…. Growden is a genius.” – Albuquerque Alibi

“He writes songs that pusle with drama, songs that slide with grace.” – Tucson Weekly

“Part singer-songwriter, part bluesman, part avant-gardist, he’s an avatar of bohemian weirdness on a par with Tom Waits or Joe Henry.” – Fort Worth Weekly

“Torrid lyricism and fierce accordion rascality. His live shows are becoming the stuff of legend.” – East Bay Express

Lyrics

Saint Judas

Written By: Mark Growden

Saint Judas, Saint Judas, Saint Judas

You got a shot glass scar on your forehead

You got holes in the soles of both of your boots

You’re a movie where the good guys are bad

And the bad guys are good


You like your whiskey neat

As a military sheet

So you drink it straight from the bag

But the kiss on the lips that whiskey is kissin’

They ‘bout to execute an innocent man


Saint Judas,

With your noose on tight

Saint Judas,

Guide us through the night

Saint Judas

Bottoms up to ya, buddy

‘cuz somebody had to take the blame


You got a stack of cash in your pocket

Oh you sold him for the price of a slave

But at the end of the day which of you is the slave?

You both got your price to pay


Oh, Jericho, it fell to the trumpets

Oh and Heaven, it’s going to fall to the hounds

Oh, but you’ll take your fall like a tightrope walker

But you’ll never hit the ground

No, no. You’ll be dancing on nothin’


David, he’s the Saint of the Poets

Julian, he's the Saint of the Clowns

Oh well, now you’re the Saint of the Sinners, boy

So won’t you buy us all another round?

Oh buy us all another round


Saint Judas,

With your noose on tight

Saint Judas,

Guide us through the night

Saint Judas

Bottoms up to ya, buddy

‘cuz somebody had to take the blame

Bottoms up to ya, buddy

‘cuz somebody had to take the blame

Bottoms up to ya, buddy

‘cuz somebody had to take the blame

Saint Judas

Inside Every Bird

Written By: Mark Growden and Angus Balbernie

Inside every bird

There’s a smaller bird

Flying faster

And inside that bird there flies another

La la la la, ….

Beneath every wave

There’s a larger wave

Rolling slower

And beneath that wave there rolls another

La la la la la, ….

Behind every word

There’s another word

Spoken softer

And behind that word the sound of laughter

La la la la la, ….

If the Stars Could Sing

Written By: Mark Growden

When a butterfly flies toward the hands of Love

Love would never rush her

And when she goes to fly away

Love would never crush her

Of course, those dusty wings could never lift me

Of course, those dusty wings could never lift me

If the stars could sing, they'd surely sing of you

If the stars could sing, they'd surely ...

If the stars could sing

If the stars could sing, they'd surely sing of you

If the stars could sing, they'd surely sing of you

If the stars could sing, they'd surely ...

If the stars could sing

If the stars could sing, they'd surely sing of you

Faith in my Pocket

Written By: Mark Growden

I thought I saw a shootin' star

It was a cigarette thrown from a trucker's window

Life can be as rough as a Mississippi highway

Knock your daddy down for the count one, two, three

The leaves are gonna fall

The geese are gonna fly away

I'm gonna drop my needle in the hay

I'm gonna lay a fat kiss on the cold wet cheeks of Winter

and watch her blush

I'm gonna rub her clammy hands until her icy blue eyes

begin to glimmer

Oh, she make me shiver

Oh, she make me shiver

Life can be as rough as a Mississippi highway

Knock your daddy down for the count one, two, three

The leaves are gonna fall

The geese are gonna fly away

I'm gonna drop my needle in the hay

Oh, I'm gonna lay a fat kiss on the cold wet cheeks of Winter

and watch her blush

I'm gonna rub her clammy hands until her icy blue eyes

begin to glimmer

Oh, she make me simmer

Oh, she make me simmer

Winter won't you drop bit of Faith in my pocket

Winter won't you drop of Faith

Winter won't you drop bit of Faith in my pocket

Faith in my pocket

Discography

Mark Growden – Saint Judas (National Release - March 2010)

Mark Growden – Island of the Gondoliers (soon to be released)

Mark Growden – Blood Tea and Red String (2005)

Mark Growden – Live at the Casbah – San Diego (2004)

Mark Growden – Live at the Odeon (2003)

Mark Growden’s Electric Pinata – Inside Beneath Behind (2001)

Mark Growden – Downstairs Karaoke (1999)

Mark Growden – This Piggy (1997)

Mark Growden – Don’t wanna Go Back (1996)

Numerous tracks have received radio airlplay.

Set List

Here's a sample set list:
Handlebars
Coyote
St Judas
Been in the storm
Delilah
I'm your man
Undertaker
Faith
Everybody
If the stars
Inside every
Gates/ take me
Horses
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That said, I prefer to play the room and the situation by adapting my set to the moment. I have LOTS of material.
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I do a broad range of covers. I'm particularly fond of adapting old soul/r&b songs. For instance, I do "You Really Got a Hold On Me" by the Miracles, but I slow it way down. This makes it sultry and brings out the emotional content.