Mark Tolstrup
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Mark Tolstrup

Band Blues Acoustic


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"Sarah Craig, manager"

"Sometimes you just know a performer is thinking about the drive, thinking about the turn-out, thinking about something other than the song. With Mark Tolstrup that is never the case. He is capable of bringing all of his mental and physical power to bear on each moment of music. He becomes completely at one with his instrument, with the journey of the song, with the rebirthing of it into the present moment. In that regard he reminds me of Kelly Joe Phelps. But when the song is over, he brings all that same energy into developing a repoire with the audience. His confidence and desire to do right by his listeners is unsurpassed. I know that’s why the size of his audience has grown so rapidly here at Caffe Lena over the past few years." - Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY

"Blues In Britain Review"

Mark Tolstrup's follow up to the fine 'That's The Way I Heard It' is another slab of roots blues music guaranteed to delight aficionados of the genre.

On this set Tolstrup is joined by Tony Markellis (bass), Dale Haskell (drums) and Richard Bell (piano) on a mixture of original blues and well-chosen covers ranging from Leadbelly to Bob Dylan and Ivory Joe Hunter.

The set opens with Robert Johnson's 'When You've Got A Good Friend', Tolstrup capturing the plaintiveness of the original as he starts in conventional Johnson mould before adding a distinctive Leroy Carr feel that is enhanced by Bell's lonesome piano and Tolstrup's Scrapper Blackwell influenced guitar. 'Careless Love' demonstrates the blues depth of Tolstrup's vocals, his voice infused with a pathos that is echoed by his mandolin, the mood enhanced by the New Orleans' funereal feel imparted by drummer Dale Haskell.

Jesse Mae Hemphill's 'Lord Help The Poor & Needy' is an aching spiritual infused with deep pulsing slide and tambourine; Dylan's 'Crash On The Levee' is a compelling slide driven blues infused with a brooding intensity; Roy Brown's 'Good Rockin' Tonight' is stomping retro real rock'n'roll at it's finest; whilst Hank Williams' 'Your Cheatin' Heart' is a pure delight replete with declamatory vocals, stomping rhythms and wailing slide. An Elmore styled rendition of Leadbelly's 'Good Morning Blues', and a poignant reading of Ivory Joe Hunter's 'Since I Met You Baby' are further fine examples of Tolstrup's ability to add new dimensions to other's songs without losing the deep blues consciousness inherent in them.

Tolstrup's original blues mesh seamlessly with the covers; 'Root Magic' is a percussive downhome stomper that rides an hypnotic slide riff; 'The Monkey Dance / Shake Baby Shake' is a wildly exhuberant blues in the Jesse Fuller style, replete with spoken asides; 'I'll Be Your Man' has a tough Broonzy feel enhanced by sparse drums and deep rolling Black Bob styled piano;
whilst 'The Second Day Of November' is imbued with a haunting Crescent City feel.

Listening to Mark Tolstrup, I am often reminded of Terry Garland, which is as fine a compliment I can give to a talented artist deserving of greater recognition. - by Mick Rainsford

"Mark Tolstrup - Root Magic"

Even though it’s a long way from upstate New York to the Mississippi Delta, Glen Falls acoustic slide guitarist Mark Tolstrup’s second disc, Root Magic, will take you down to deep blues country faster than would the Starship Enterprise’s transporter beam. Produced by former Dave Bromberg and Paul Butterfield Band bass god Tony Markellis and joined by Janis Joplin alumnus Richard Bell on piano, Dale Haskell on drums, and Markellis on bass, Tolstrup’s steel-bodied guitar and earthy baritone vocals affirm that it’s hard to go wrong when you stay close to the wellsprings of American music. The 14 tracks of his second release feature five originals as well as covers of Robert Johnson, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Leadbelly, Bob Dylan, and Hank Williams Sr. in solo, duo and band settings.
The 48-year-old Tolstrup is a solid bluesman who goes for grit more than flash, his sound being closer to Son House than to Robert Johnson or contemporary slide wizard John Mooney. Because the fingerpicking guitar style he favors was designed to be self-sufficient, he’s at his best when playing solo or backed only by Markellis’ bass. That’s not to dismiss the band tracks, though: Bell’s piano and Haskell’s drums lay down a sinewy groove that is worth a listen even if you wish Tolstrup had used a sharp-toned electric guitar for some of these cuts.
First among the more noteworthy tracks is Tolstrup’s self-penned title song, the lyrics of which start out like a compendium of voodoo practices, and then, referring to music as well as botany, advise the listener that "if you want the roots you got to dig deep in the ground." "Careless Love," on the other hand, is one the oldest and best-known blues songs to which Tolstrup gives an unusual twist by strumming the rarely heard tiple, or soprano guitar. In "Motherless Child," Markellis’ bowed bass adds an aptly somber undertone to the old spiritual.
Root Magic should convince blueshounds that Tolstrup has been digging in the right places.
- Metroland Albany New York


The Back Roads of America - 2007
Root Magic - 2005
That's The Way I Heard It - 2004
Blues & Rags - 1999



Following a life long passion for roots music and especially the blues Tolstrup blends folk and rock influences with blues and ragtime, sending you on a journey to the back roads of America.. With his rhythmic finger-picking and slide-guitar playing and his soulful, unaffected vocals, Tolstrup attacks every song (including # originals) with deep feeling and energy. Tolstrup's heartfelt singing and powerful National Steel slide guitar will carry you to the distant sounds of the American roots musical landscape from New Orleans to Tin Pan Alley.

Born in Massachusetts in 1957, Mark first got hooked on the blues listening to the classic bluesmen of the 1930's - Son House, Robert Johnson and Blind Blake as well modern players such as Dave Van Ronk, Rory Block, John Hammond and Ry Cooder.. While many of his peers were listen to the rock and pop music that was derived from the blues. Mark sought out the sources and the roots of the music.
As director and head instructor of the Tai Chi Center in Saratoga Springs, NY, Mark's teachings in the Chinese internal arts have influenced his life philosophy and his music. His soulful singing and deep-down music demonstrate the same mastery and command of the blues as the teachings of Tai Chi give to the mind, body and spirit. Seemingly in contrast to the meditative nature of Tai Chi, Tolstrup wields the energy of a powerful connection with his music drawn into focus from the discipline and practice of Tai Chi Chaun.