The Mark Newton Band
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The Mark Newton Band


Band Folk Acoustic


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"A Total Band Sound"

April 4 -17, 2007 -
Host Bob Webster talks with the Mark Newton Band and discusses Mark's approach to a total band sound on his new release, Hillbilly Hemmingway. -

"Radio Friendly"

“If Hillbilly Hemingway sounds like an odd name for a bluegrass album, that's probably because it is a bit unusual. But given a bit of thought, one might make the argument that country songwriters like Hank Williams, forced to write in an economical style for a three minute format, then perhaps the Mark Newton Band is on to something. The band, vocalist Mark Newton, mandolinist Andy Ball, banjoist John Wheat, bassist Beth Lawrence, and guitarist Clay Hess, is augmented by fiddler Stuart Duncan, dobro players Rob Ickes and Randy Kohrs, and producer Carl Jackson. The band plays extremely well together as a unit and the dozen songs have been carefully chosen. Newton's country flavored lead is backed up by precision harmony, though these vocals work best, and are most distinctive, in the instances where a female tenor is placed in the mix. Although Carl Jackson has stuck to an unobtrusive production, the music remains fairly smooth, fitting snuggly into "contemporary" bluegrass category. This lack of rough edges is abated somewhat by songs like "Are You Lonesome Tonight," featuring Hess' rougher, more tradition based vocals, and the free for all instrumental "Downforce." Hillbilly Hemingway is a likable, radio friendly album, that will please Newton's fans. “

- Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., All Music Guide - All Music Guide

"Honkytonk roots rock/pop?"

I suppose at first listen you’d call Mark Newton’s music bluegrass, but it’s not just bluegrass. Sure the bluegrass affects are slathered on pretty heavy, but drum kit gives away the game – this is really honkytonk roots rock/pop masquerading as traditional bluegrass. Is that a bad thing? No, but to assume that Hillbilly Hemingway is merely another Rebel Records bluegrass offering would be a mistake, since it is far more than that....

Every song on this CD has as much finesse and polish as any big-budget Nashville hot-country release. The sound is clear, warm, and best of all, very natural. Recorded, mixed and mastered at the Station West in Nashville, TN. by Luke Wooten, Bart Busch, and John Caldwell Hillbilly Hemingway epitomizes what modern acoustic music can sound like when recorded right.

Look for the entire review in the February 2007 edition of the Vintage Guitar Review - Vintage Guitar


This soaring, deftly plucked ode to Hank Williams provides the title tune to Newton's fifth album. He's a soulful singer, and producer Jackson reinforces his already tight band with such stellar hired guns as Stuart Duncan, Rob Ickes, Alecia Nugent and Randy Kohrs. The resulting sound is stunning. - Robert Oermann, Music Row

"A brilliant album without doubt"

I received yesterday from Rebel the new Mark Newton Band album and so wish for you to pass on to all concerned my congratulations. It is a brilliant album without doubt. Every track on it is a winner; every one is different from all of the others. The selection of songs I know is something Mark took particular care about, and the results here justify his patience. As I write, "A Good Town To Die In" is my favorite but this could well change the more I play through the album. I am also extremely impressed by the grace and sheer excellence of the band's playing throughout the album. All in all, it's one of the best albums I've had the sheer delight to hear for a very long time.

Congratulations to all concerned.
Geoff Morris - Geoff Morris, Wall to Wall Bluegrass


Hillbilly Hemingway (2006)
Feel Like My Time Ain't Long (2006)
No Boundaries (2003)
Bluegrass Today
Charlie Lawson's Still (2001)
Knee Deep In Bluegrass "The Acutab Sessions" (2000)
Follow Me Back To The Fold (2000)
The Best Of The Virginia Squires (1998)
Living A Dream (1998)
A Foot In The Past, A Foot In The Future (1997)
Virginia Squires Variations (1988)
Hard Times And Heartaches (1986)
Mountains And Memories (1984)
Painted Lady (1980)



Originally from Paducah, Ky., Mark Newton was born into a musical family. Mark’s father played mandolin, guitar and fiddle and his mother was an accomplished pianist, so it was no surprise that Mark took to music as well, first appearing on stage at the age of fourteen. The family moved to Fredericksburg, Va. in 1960 where Mark was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by a culture rich in music. The DC area of Virginia in the mid-60’s was a booming scene for festivals, and Mark took advantage of this. . traveling every weekend to take in shows.
In the mid 80's Mark joined the Virginia Squires, a band that was on the leading edge of groups that were developing a style known as "contemporary" bluegrass. Mark was the lead guitarist and singer for the Squires which also included future bluegrass stars, Rickie Simpkins, Sammy Shelor and Ronnie Simpkins. According to Mark, “We weren’t necessarily trying to create a sound that would be labeled as contemporary bluegrass. All of us grew up with traditional roots, so we tried to find the balance between what was honest and true and music that was influencing our generation (Rock’n’Roll for example) to create an identity.” The Squires released five albums, four of which were on the Rebel label; Mountains and Memories, I'm Working My Way, Hard Times and Heartaches, and Variations. All five albums were met with critical acclaim, and established the group as one of the most innovative forces in modern bluegrass.

A full decade after the Squires disbanded, Mark took about a 5 year hiatus from the music business. In his words, “I’d been clipping along at pretty good pace. I’d always been in groups that were fairly successful. When the Squires disbanded, it was the first time I’d been on my own . . . and I really didn’t know what to do.” Once Mark had taken some time to reflect, he began coming up with ideas for the future. Living in Fredericksburg there were a tremendous amount of players, so Mark had plenty of opportunities to get out and perform. He recorded a live record with Larry Stephenson, Bill Emerson and David Parmley which helped to ignite the spark for him to go forward and put together his own band. Mark decided that the time had come for his first solo outing. The result was 1998's Living a Dream CD (Rebel), which paired him with and paid homage to, some of his biggest musical influences.

While cutting Living a Dream, Mark came up with the concept for Follow me back to the Fold ~ his tribute to women in bluegrass. This project has become one of Mark’s most widely recognized accomplishments. "The idea came to me because I did this whole album [Living a Dream] and afterward realized that there was not one woman on it”, recalls Mark. “It was an oversight . . . and I realized there have been a lot of women who have personally impacted me, starting back with Gloria Belle, and I felt I needed to do something about that.” The album became a landmark project for bluegrass, and a personal milestone for Mark Newton, capturing IBMA’s Recorded Event of the Year Award in 2001.

In 2004, Mark Newton made the decision to relocate from Fredericksburg, VA to Nashville, Tenn. According to Mark, “I felt like I’d reached a point where I wasn’t growing musically, and needed a change”. Mark made the move because he felt that Nashville will be a place where he can learn and grow artistically while tapping into the pulse of the music business. With a new location and band in place, Mark is excited about embarking into this new chapter of his life.