Paul Emery Presents
Nevada City Live

Mark Growden

Mark Growden Quartet

“A sight and sound you don’t want to miss.”
– S.F. Bay Guardian

Saturday, October 12, 8:00PM
Tickets $20
Buy Tickets
Tickets at: The BriarPatch Co-op – 530-272-5333
Yabobo – 530-270-9114
TICKETS BY PHONE AT: 800-838-3006
The Nevada Theater
401 Broad Street, Nevada City

“Theatrical, dark and sexy.”
– West Coast Performer

“Fiery, Earthy and sublimely sensual.”
– Comet Magazine

“Mark Growden has to be one California’s most colorful and intriguing musicians …
Growden is a genius.”
– Albuquerque Alibi

“An unusual and voracious talent.”
– Williamette Week

“I grew up in an old logging town, less than a hundred people, on the Sierra Nevada/Cascade Divide,” says musician Mark Growden. Lose Me in the Sand is a tribute to Growden’s rural mountain roots. His latest album is also a hats-off to the roughshod beginnings of American music and the spirit that music represents. Growden chose the banjo as the primary instrument for Lose Me in the Sand for both its timbre and history. An African-American instrument that made its way into minstrel shows and Appalachian folk music, the banjo resonates in our collective consciousness with the memory of poverty, oppression, resilience, and fortitude. “I’m aware of the choice of these songs and the era we’re living in,” says Growden. “Lose Me in the Sand is a banjo album. It’s about humility.”

Rehearsed and recorded in live studio sessions in Tucson, Arizona, Lose Me in the Sand is intentionally infused with the desert’s eternal expanse. Its sparse arrangements are steeped in the enduring qualities of patience, surrender and acceptance. Lose Me in the Sand is Growden’s second place-based album with Porto Franco Records engineered by Oz Fritz (whose resume includes Tom Waits and Caetano Veloso). It follows on the heels of his Oakland recording of Saint Judas, a bold and highly praised exploration of universal love and redemption.

Each of Growden’s albums have been recorded in a place where Growden felt the songs fit – a place where the musical culture and physical landscape would enhance the album’s ambience. Saint Judas was informed by the soulful complexity of Oakland’s cosmopolitan cityscape and Growden’s long-standing Oakland/San Francisco ensemble (Seth Ford Young – bass, Myles Boisen – guitar, Jenya Chernoff – percussion, Alex Kelly – cello, Chris Grady – trumpet, Mark Growden – accordion, banjo, bicycle handlebars, sruti box, voice). Lose Me in the Sand is rooted in Tucson’s country music scene, with guitarist Clay Koweek, fiddler Tim O’Connor, dobro player Connor Gallaher, bassist Ian Stapp, harmonica player Tom Wallbank and guest percussionist Andrew Collberg contributing their homegrown sensibilities. With Growden as music director, the arrangements grew from guided improvisations. Each musician crafted riffs to add nuance and depth to the interpretations.

Mark Growden began his musical career scoring instrumental pieces for dance and theater companies including Joe Goode Performance Group and The Crucible. His work with Alonzo King’s LINES Contemporary Ballet won the Isadora Duncan Award for Best Original Score for a New Dance Piece. “I am first and foremost trained as an avant garde saxophonist and as a composer,” explains Growden. “My job is to take traditions and turn them on their heads - to break the traditions and to innovate.” The skill of his artistry is exemplified in the covers and traditional songs on Lose Me in the Sand. Growden doesn’t cover others’ songs, as much as he uncovers them. With sly intelligence he draws out what was always there, but we failed to hear, challenging us to recognize what our favorite songs actually say to us - and about us. Growden reworks Aretha Franklin’s first hit, and sings it back to her in “You Ain’t Never Been Loved.” With a wry sense of the paradoxical truths in human relationships, he counters her agonizing “I guess I'll never be free, since you got your hooks in me” with a candid “You’ve never been so free as when you got hooked on me.” More than a she said, he said rendition, Growden’s rewrite illuminates the story. Franklin’s recording won’t sound the same again. In his version of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” where the melody rises, Growden twists it down. He pushes Springsteen’s fever-pitched freight train click-clack into low gear, sinking the emotions. Then, he carves the marrow out of the 1980’s hit with a few deft lyrical changes. “Can he do to you the things that I do?” deepens as “Does he do to you the things I don’t do.” The phrase, “Only you can cool my desire” is cut to leave a hollow haunted by an ingenious wail - the only place in the song where the harmonica sounds.

The arrangements on Lose Me in the Sand move with a deliberately measured tempo, accentuated by two exceptions. Growden’s “John Hardy” runs with frantic desperation when he frees the traditional melody to release the full force of anguish in this tale about a man who runs from the law. “Settle in a Little While,” one of four original songs on the album, skips and stutters with abandon, even as it speaks of commitment. But overall, Lose Me in the Sand moves slowly, and the references to time scattered throughout its lyrics gravitate towards an enduring, steadfast calm. Inspired by prison work songs, Growden’s “Takin’ My Time” takes the grunts and hammers of toiling men and transforms them with boot stomps and a male chorus into the slow ecstasy of love made right. “Killing Time” traces the recent history of Growden’s hometown of Pinetown (aka Oldtown), California and nearby Westwood, where “the pines just sigh, while the wallets run dry.” It chronicles the despair of the times against a majestic backdrop of winging geese and a proud Paul Bunyan. “When I sing this song at home, people cry,” says Growden.

The album’s closing track is a final comment on present times. Growden’s mash up of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz” stands as a critique on America’s love affair with materialism. Lest patriots find offense it should be noted that Francis Scott Key borrowed the tune from a popular 18th century British ode to wine and women to create the Star Spangled Banner. Growden’s reinterpretation follows Key’s step. Married to “Molly Rose Waltz,” a tune by two-time National Fancy Fiddle Champion Hyram Posey, it is as sweetly American as Lady Liberty’s apple pie.

Growden’s musical influences are broad. His parents relied on Motown vinyl to rock him to sleep as a baby. Growing up, he sang in his father’s church, played saxophone in elementary, middle and high school bands and discovered death rock and the alternative music scene as a teen. These days Growden listens to contemporary classical and jazz music and Alan Lomax field recordings. But, the underlying quality heard in his music has roots elsewhere. “I grew up with a lot of alone time - in the woods and wilderness - with coyotes, trumpeter swans, geese, deer and antelope,” says Growden. His music moves with a natural flow reminiscent of the patterned hushes in bird trills and blowing winds. Lose Me in the Sand croons, howls, stutters, laughs, and runs, but always around a central stillness. Growden uses music to carve out silences most of us don’t pause to hear.

“My vision is to inspire people,” says Growden.  “Making music with people is an incredibly powerful feeling....seeing people open up.... that’s important to me,” Growden says. “Music’s been my best friend. When I’ve been down, it’s a salve. It’s been an amazing blessing in my life. I’m really grateful, and I have to share that with other people. It’s just what I’m here to do.”

• 2009 Arts DEVO Award for Best Live Music Performance
• 2003 SF Weekly Music Awards nominee for Best Americana/Roots performer
• 2002 SF Weekly Music Awards nominee for Best Americana/Roots performer
• 1997 “Isadora Duncan Award” for Best Original Music for a New Dance Piece for work in performing the score for Alonzo King’s Sacred Text
• Two “Best Song” awards from the Northern California Songwriter’s Association

Chris Grady - trumpet
Chrishas been teaching, performing and recording music in the San Francisco Bay area for more than 20 years. Chris has studied at San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has performed and recorded with many bay area groups and artists including Tom Waits, the Tiger Lillies, The Residents, Vermillion Lies, The Grassy Knoll, the Beth Custer Ensemble and the Clubfoot Orchestra among many others.

Alex Kelly - cello
Dr. Alex Kelly is a San Francisco based cellist, composer, electronic musician and conductor. He has composed for and performed with major symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, new music ensembles, string quartets, cello quartets, big bands, jazz combos, rock bands, hip-hop crews, Klezmer/Balkan bands, theater companies, radio productions, ballet companies, modern dance companies, and circus troupes. He has also composed film scores and video game music. Alex orchestrated a concerto for four soloists for tabla guru Zakir Hussain that was premiered by the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in 2011. Alex is the author of the cello technique book "The Seven Points" which teaches fingerboard mapping techniques. His live-looping solo show has been seen in a variety of venues ranging from Davies Symphony Concert Hall to Yosemite mountaintops.

Daniel Fabricant - upright bass

Daniel Fabricant may be the most versatile bassist in San Franciscoand the most in-demand. Playing upright or electric, he can adapt to a wide range of musical settings, from intimate chamber groups to sprawling dance bands and Latin ensembles. He has performed internationally with Joan Rivers, Spencer Day, Ann Hampton Callaway, Petula Clark, Lucie Arnaz, Andrea Marcovicci and Mary Wilson of the Supremes among many others. In his decade on the San Francisco scene he has played as a sideman with dozens of San Francisco groups including The California Honeydrops, Lavay Smith and the Red Hot Skillet Lickers and the Cottontails, and can be heard nearly every night of the week at venues like Yoshi's, the Freight and Salvage and the Herbst Theater. He is a founding member of the award-winning Nice Guy Trio, which was recently named best jazz band in San Francisco.

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