Mark Erelli

September 2016 Newsletter

September 2016 Newsletter

Alaska 2011, photo by Brian Stowell


I believe that if you work at something long and hard enough, then success will come. With the caveat that when it eventually comes, success rarely (if ever) looks like what you once envisioned. This principle has guided the evolution from my early solo career to my burgeoning sideman work, and back to my solo career with the release of my 10th record FOR A SONG this past spring. Seventeen years in, I guess I am a successful musician--I'm still doing it--but every time I take stock I am taken aback by how different the reality is from the dream.

My sideman work began around 2000, touring the Midwest, Great Plains, the South, the West coast, Alaska and everywhere in between as a guitarist for my friend Kris Delmhorst. I'll always be indebted to Kris for first believing that I could fill that role, and it has lead to a lot of work with other artists like Catie Curtis, Lori McKenna and Paula Cole. In hindsight, my sideman work probably saved me from myself. I'm not at all convinced I could have soldiered on through lean years as a solo singer/songwriter. I am grateful for the friends who took me out on the road and gave me a chance to play on prestigious stages for large audiences.

Several years ago, I had a chance to take the sideman job to an even higher level, when I got the call to tour extensively with Josh Ritter as a trio behind his excellent 2013 album The Beast In Its Tracks. It would have been, in many ways, every rock n' roll dream I'd ever had come true. The problem was, I had 5 and 2-year old boys at the time and I was heartbroken by the thought of missing them grow up. I drove to New York, visited with Josh in person and told him why I couldn't take the gig, that I hoped he'd understand someday. A new father himself, he assured me he did, but I left knowing two things: that I'd made the right decision and that he would likely move on to another musician and never call again.

I still believe I made the right call in 2013, but have always said I would be crazy to turn the gig down twice. This spring, Josh called again. And so I am proud to announce that this fall will find me playing with Josh (and my best friend Zachariah Hickman) on a 5-week tour opening for Jason Isbell. It's inspiring to tour with one of the greatest male songwriters of my generation...but touring with two of them? I feel like I won the lottery, and I can't imagine how much fun this will be and what I will learn from the whole experience.

I'd intended to spend this fall rededicating myself to my solo work, touring more extensively afield behind what I feel is the best record I've ever made. But you don't get to choose the kind of success that finds you, and so I'll be on the road from Maine to Louisiana, playing guitar for a friend who's written some of the best songs I've ever heard. I haven't been gone this long since before the boys were born, and I'm going to miss them and their mother like crazy. But fortunately everyone seems to understand the crazy things dad has to do for a song.

If you were hoping to catch a solo show sometime this fall, there are still a handful of those on the books, and certainly more to come. In the meantime, check out Jason Isbell and Josh Ritter if they come to a town near you. They are two of the best singer/songwriters working, and you'll get a bonus third singer/songwriter for free...playing electric guitar on the side of the stage with a bright smile on his face.

VINYL: I have to say that I've been a little bit skeptical with the recent LP resurgence. I still can't see it as a viable thing for all artists to manufacture. However, when I held that first vinyl copy of FOR A SONG in my hands, I got a jolt of pride that I hadn't felt since holding the very first copy of the first CD I made. It looks great, sounds great, and now you can get FOR A SONG on vinyl HERE.

MP3 of the MONTH: Of course the song of the month has to be a Josh Ritter song, right? Here's a live version of Barnstar! covering "Darling" at the Parlor Room in Northampton MA a couple years back. You can download it HERE. It's free for the month of September. Enjoy!


Sept 5-11 - Sisters Folk Festival, Sisters OR
This festival seems to have everything: the beautiful late summer weather of the Pacific Northwest, blackberries the size of golf balls, Richard Thompson and so many more great artists. I've been asked to do this festival a handful of times but never could because it always fell on my anniversary. The dates worked out better this year, and I'm honored to join the bill.


Tour dates accompanying Josh Ritter opening for Jason Isbell (* Ritter headline/solo dates). For more information, please visit Josh Ritter's website.

Sat Sept 17 - Canton MA*
Fri Sept 23 - Birmingham AL
Sat Sept 24 - Atlanta GA
Sun Sept 25 - Cincinnati OH*
Mon Sept 26 - Chicago IL*
Wed Sept 28 - Birmingham AL
Thu Sept 29 - Louisville KY
Sun Oct 2 - Des Moines IA
Mon Oct 2 - Grand Rapids MI
Tue Oct 4 - Kent OH*
Wed Oct 5 - Hershey PA
Thu Oct 6 - Syracuse NY
Sat Oct 8 - New Haven CT
Sun Oct 9 - Portland ME
Tue Oct 11 - Burlington VT
Wed Oct 12 - Lowell MA
Thu Oct 13 - Concord NH*
Fri Oct 14 - Red Bank NJ
Sat Oct 15 - Greensboro NC
Sun Oct 16 - Columbia SC
Tue Oct 18 - Fort Myers FL
Wed Oct 19 - Clearwater FL
Thu Oct 20 - Ponte Vedra FL
Fri Oct 21 - Mobile AL
Sat Oct 22 - New Orleans LA


Nov 4-5 - Moab Folk Festival, Moab UT
Nov 12 - Parlor Room, Northampton MA
Nov 18 - Passim, Cambridge MA
Dec 3 - South Shore Folk Music Club, Kingston MA
Dec 4 - Tamworth Lyceum, Tamworth NH


updated: 2 years ago