About The Artist
We first met Mark Brine early on in our endeavors of this web site. We don't know how he found out about it, but we've been lucky to meet some great folks because of this ongoing historical project of a site. Mark wanted to be a part of the site and well, he made us an offer we couldn't refuse.
He told us he could write a couple of biographies for us of folks he had come to know and admire during his career. One was the legendary Grand Ole Opry fiddler, Sid Harkreader. Another was the man who introduced him to the audiences of the Grand Ole Opry - Hank Snow.
And write he did - hand-written as a matter of fact and nicely done we must say. If you don't believe us - check out what he wrote about those two legends.
But let's get to know this fellow a bit, shall we?
He's been performing quite a while and shows know sign of losing his creative urge and ability to write and perform. From his own web site, we borrow a couple of snippets to help you get to know him a bit.
In the 1960's, Mark was living in New England and doing folk music. Folk then was a musical genre which itself had fragmented from old-time mountain music. These days they call it all Americana.
In the 1970's, he moved to Nashville to take in some traditional country of the sort he already loved, but unfortunately his timing wasn't the best; he got there too late. By that time Nashville was producing more of a Countrypolitan sound, a different sound from the traditional sounds that generations had grown to love and enjoy. And at that time, Mark was already "too country" in a time when that phrase hadn't even been thought of. The song, "I was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" comes to mind doesn't it?
He wasn't out to be an "outlaw," so he wasn't one of the outlaws. He wasn't a California honky-tonker, so Bakersfield wasn't his destination. And neither of those neo-traditionalist movements attracted him. So, he did what any artist that had that inner spirit of knowing what "his" music was about and the direction he wanted to take it.
He continued to do the traditional Americana sound, and gave it his own unique styling. He probably single-handedly shaped the Americana genre by releasing "Return to Americana" in 1985, a time when today's current Americana artists were still being called "country" or "blues" artists (if, indeed, they were even recording yet!).
But by keeping true to his sound, it brought him to the attention of Hank Snow, who was so impressed with the 1992 single, "New Blue Yodel," he invited Mark to appear on the Grand Old Opry.
Yes, that old-time style of Opry, when Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl were still around, was exactly where Mark Brine belonged. Unfortunately, the Opry was going to change as much as country music itself in very short order, and what should have led to some much-deserved recognition simply vanished under the enforced pop sounds and slick productions that characterized "country" music throughout the nineties.
Mark has lived in some very metropolitan cities - Cambridge, Nashville, Baltimore to name a few, but he has a small-town quality to him and his music that make you feel his music is at home when you listen to it. He describes that style on his "New Blue Yodel" CD:
"...his songs live in a place can't find on any map. ... Where life is still precious and significant, and death is still a heartbreak that can shatter a soul. Where a down'n out singer is still standin' at the intersection, just tryin't'fig're how t' make a meal."
And wouldn't you like to hear someone like Roy Acuff tell you, "I could listen to him sing all night long"?
That Blue Yodel CD and others try to give fans who may not know Mark what he sounds like - as someone will often do in trying to describe to friends what someone sounds like, especially when they've made an impression.
That CD notes, "...just think of it as Woody Guthrie and Lyle Lovett taking Mark Twain on a picnic somewhre deep in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. You know the place, a place of earth, grass, hickory smoke, cool water and so many different colors of blue."
Along the way, Mark has been a staff writer and roster artist for two Nashville record labels. He's the winner of the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Contest in Meridian, Mississippi. He's been the opening act at the legendary World Famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge in Nashville for six years. He's appeared on Ernest Tubb’s Midnight Jamboree with Roy Acuff and the Smokey Mountain Boys. His debut performance on the Grand Ole Opry was with Hank Snow and his Rainbow Ranch Boys. He was inducted into the National Traditional Country Music Association (NTCMA) Hall of Fame in 2004.
Along about the summer of 2006, we had a business trip back east to the Philadelphia area. We took a drive on Saturday night during that trip down to Aberdeen, Maryland and got to meet Mark and his wife at a diner that was appropriate for two folks who enjoy the simpler, traditional sounds of country music. It was indeed a treat and as time always does when the times are good and the company as well, flew by all too quickly. We got to hear many tales of his times in Nashville and the people he met. Heck, he even wore the hat you always see him with in his pictures. He even brought along his copy of the autographed JEMF booklet that did a biography of Fiddlin' Sid Harkreader. We were birds of a feather, for we've also been lucky enough to obtain an autographed copy of that booklet. Now if only the trip was longer and we had been able to see Mark perform, but then, that's life for you - you have something to take with you to the next time you meet up along the way.
A couple of years ago, we had the pleasure of receiving a uniqute Christmas greeting from Mark and Karen - Mark's Christmas CD. It hit the spot. It included folks he had worked with, instrumentals as well as vocals. And the overall sound left you feeling comfortable and relaxed - not one of those typical over-produced efforts that include booming sounds and choruses that drown out the voice of the artist. The voice, the lyrics, the music are what you hear.
Mark is still recording these days and has a new effort that features some of those old traditional country standards in his style. He pays tribute to Hank Williams this time around, doing "Your Cheatin' Heart". But there's a part of us that would have liked to hear him do his version of "Lovesick Blues" as well.
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