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Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States | INDIE

Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States | INDIE
Band Folk Pop


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You may not yet know the name Mark Charles Heidinger, but you should. When he’s not tearing it up with The Apparitions, he’s creating well-crafted modern folk music under the moniker Vandaveer. Grace & Speed is superb from start to finish, showing Heidinger’s gift for storytelling and sense of economy.

- Performing Songwriter Magazine

The folks at Gypsy Eyes Records seem to operate with a thoroughly mid-American mix of humility and professionalism. The Web site of the D.C. label has old-timey flourishes and earthy colors, while its four CD releases have good production values and smartly designed cover art. It’s an aesthetic that says: Get a whole lotta value for yer big-city indie dollar.

If pay dirt for the label seems to be right around the corner, it easily could come via Vandaveer’s Grace & Speed, a surprisingly accomplished set of folk-ribbed and rock-informed tunes. It’s a one-man band--­guitarist-singer Mark Charles Heidinger, the D.C.-based frontman of Kentucky rock outfit the Apparitions-­—and he seems to have a firm understanding of the pitfalls of copping too much from Dylan or Drake. The album opener, “However Many Takes It Takes,” has a bit of Uncle Bob’s double-edged lyricism (“But nothing’s ever as it seems/You find yourself farther downstream, alone/Save for the echoes of your screams”), while “Different Cities” has a strong Pink Moon vibe, even though its message isn’t accordingly obfuscated. (It’s basically a dignified shout-out to Heidinger’s old pals and his adopted metropolis.)

Despite Heidinger’s obvious penchant for vinyl-era heroes, he’s not a blatant rehasher; the songs exude his own brand of confidence. Elsewhere, his storytelling takes precedence, and he tends to strike a balance between artistry and schmaltz: “Marianne, You’ve Done It Now” is a showy postmortem of a doomed starlet, complete with slightly sinister vocals and a wandering clarinet line in the background (“If you listen now and then/You’ll hear her favorite tune whistling in the wind”). And on “The Streets Is Full Of Creeps,” he tells the tale of a beat cop who goes postal and pulls the gun on himself; the melody evokes an era of soot, gaslights, and road apples.

The album-closing rocker, “Roman Candle,” feels like an obligatory reminder of Heidinger’s other musical exploits. But his vocal phrasing--a bit nasal, a bit gentlemanly--ultimately sells the songs. He’s an unrepentant troubadour, for sure, but he doesn’t come off like a poseur. - Washington City Paper

Vandaveer is Mark Charles Heidinger, lead singer of old school pop stars The Apparitions. Though Heidinger now resides in the Capital City, his days spent rocking in the Bluegrass have certainly earned him some residual love from us.

Grace & Speed, released on DC label Gypsy Eyes Records, incorporates bits of pop and rock but is a folk album at heart. Heidinger is constantly being compared to the likes of Dylan and Drake, but it's hard not to size him up to the big guys when you hear his proficient, smart songs sung in such a confident voice. You can almost feel the swagger.

A delightfully eerie touch is the somewhat free-form clarinet by resident horn and woodwind player Chris Sullivan on "Marianne, You've Done It Now." It meanders in and out of Heidinger's vocals and really sets the song apart. "Roman Candle"is the most heavily produced song and it brings to mind pop greats like The Apples In Stereo and The Minders. As the last song on the album, it really goes out with a bang, or "with a sonic boom" as Heidinger might say.

- The Weekly (KY)

While it’s the first solo record for Mark Charles Heidinger, he is no stranger to recording as he also fronts the indie rock band The Apparitions. This record was a chance for Mark play some acoustic bedroom folk and take a step away from the sugary pop of The Apparitions. The Washington D.C. based (via Kentucky) singer/songwriter takes the risk of wearing such prolific influences on his sleeve as Dylan and Waits and is able to escape with his own identity intact. - - The Futurist


Grace & Speed (Gypsy Eyes Records / March 2007)



Vandaveer is the partly sunny, mostly cloudy town-folk, city-pop song & dance routine penned and put forth by DC-based tunesmith Mark Charles. In recent seasons this Mark Charles character traversed the mighty American highways spreading golden pop rock cheer and debauchery as principle singer, songwriter, hand-clapper, and chorus-yelper for The Apparitions. Where The Apparitions cast five hearty votes for bombast, electricity, and drums, Vandaveer steers left, detouring through the quieter side of song doing his very best to learn what makes an acoustic guitar the world's finest storytelling machine.

Vandaveer's debut record, Grace & Speed, entered this great big world in March 2007 via DC's Gypsy Eyes Records, earning stellar reviews and repeated comparisons to Donovan, Dylan, Nick Drake, Tom Waits, and scores more.

Vandaveer has had the good fortune of performing up and down the east coast and beyond with a host of humbling artists, including Vashti Bunyan, Alejandro Escovedo, Smog, The Ditty Bops, Tim Easton, Joan As Policewoman, and Vetiver, among others.

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