Mark Erelli

July 2009 Newsletter

July 2009 Newsletter
AUGUST 13, 1952-JULY 19, 2002

This week, the whole world is reeling from the loss of Michael Jackson.  I am a child of the 80's and grew up on his music, but I feel strangely ambivalent about his passing.  The music he made at his peak nearly makes this week's news irrelevant...he immortalized himself years ago.

Instead, I find myself thinking of another artist who passed away this time of year seven years ago--Dave Carter.  Dave was a friend, a mentor and a major influence.  I shared the stage with him and his musical partner Tracy Grammer many times, and though he always treated me like an equal, I never quite felt myself worthy of the designation.  He worked on a higher plane, and unlike some artists whose greatest work seems fixed in time, I always got the impression that the next new song of Dave Carter's I heard would be his best one yet.  

I still remember a lot of little details from the night we lost Dave.  I was playing a show in Pittsfield, MA when I got a call after soundcheck from Jim Olsen, head of our record label Signature Sounds.  He told me Dave had died, and asked if I could step up and fill in for him on the main stage at the Green River Festival the following day.  I answered yes while still in shock.  I did that night's gig, and drove home through the hills of western Massachusetts with the windows down, listening to Neil Young's "Harvest Moon."  The next day, I showed up at the festival and played as best I could.  Strangely, I have no memory of the actual set, though I do remember it being perhaps the only time I have cried openly at a gig.  

This month, I'll be back on the main stage of the Green River Festival for the first time since I filled in for Dave in 2002.   It will be a joyous occasion, the 15th anniversary of my wonderful record label, Signature Sounds.  Celebrating with all my friends will take the edge off, but not completely erase, Dave's memory and the feeling that he should be there, joining in the party.

When I was a kid, I used to practice my moonwalk whenever one of Michael Jackson's videos came on MTV.  Twenty seven years later, you won't catch me trying to dance like that anymore.  But I'm still trying to write a song as good as one of Dave Carter's.  And that's an endeavor I'll likely never outgrow.

DARWIN SONG PROJECT: Earlier this year, myself and seven other artists from the US and UK were invited to a songwriting retreat in Shrewsbury UK, collaborating on songs inspired by the life and work of Charles Darwin.  We wrote 18 songs in 5 days, and gave a sold out concert at the retreat's end.  The show was recorded for a live cd which is now available, and I encourage you all to check it out.  It's not available stateside as of yet, but you can order it from the great UK online acoustic music site Fish Records.  If you want to get a feel for the project before you order, you can check out a video of my song "Mother Of Mysteries" on YouTube, as well as an interview I did for UK folk music site Spiral Earth.

MP3 of the MONTH: In remembrance of Dave Carter, this month's track is a homespun demo of Dave's "Long Black Road Into Tulsa Town."  It's available for free download for the month of July at markerelli.com.


Tonight! June 29th, 7 pm
Passim Center, Cambridge MA

In the round with Lori McKenna, Kris Delmhorst and Shane Hines.  There's still a few tickets left!


Thu July 9th, 7 pm
Ulrich Museum, Wichita State University, Wichita KS

Never been to Wichita, though I have sang Gillian Welch's song of the same name many times.  If I like the town half as much as I do the song, we're gonna get along just fine.  It's a free show, so why not come out and show me some of that famous Wichita hospitality!  Visit the venue website for all the details.

Fri July 10th, 4 pm
Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, Okemah OK

It's a real honor to be a part of this festival in honor of Woody Guthrie.  Singer/songwriters often joke that they wouldn't have a job if it hadn't been for Bob Dylan.  But Dylan wouldn't have had a job if not for Woody.  I can't wait to pay my respects.  Check out the festival website for all the details.

Fri July 17th
Green River Festival, Greenfield MA

This will be a big party, the 15th anniversary of Signature Sounds Recording Co.  I'll be backed by the fabulous house band (led by Goody Goodrich) and will likely join in the fray to accompany many other friends over the course of the evening.  I have never encountered another record label with such a strong sense of community and we'd like to include you for the evening.  Come on out, check out the festival website.  

July 31 - Sellersville PA accompanying Lori McKenna

Aug 28-29 - Shrewsbury Folk Festival, Shrewsbury UK
Aug 30 - The Green Note, London UK


updated: 9 years ago