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Mark Gothard
As a varsity athlete at Princeton, Mark Gothard traded his strung racket for a six string and never looked back. The long road road to success has been as vibrant and rich as the colorful folk narratives he's crafted along the way.

The pivotal moments in our lives are often concealed in the most innocuous gestures and events. Such was the case for Mark Gothard, a varsity tennis player attending Princeton University. At that time, a teammate showed him how to strum a few chords on the guitar. It was an innocent gesture, but one that would profoundly affect Mark's future. He pursued his education, earning a Master’s in Education with teaching credentials, but his roots remained firmly planted in song from that day forward. Since then, award-winning musician and artist Mark Gothard has written over three-hundred songs and has traveled across the coutnry like a troubadour. He has passed through New York City, Nashville, D.C., Boston, the Santa Cruz Mountains and Jackson, Wyoming, ultimately landing in Los Angeles, performing at many of the music capital’s most renowned venues including House of Blues, Largo, B.B. King and The Troubadour. Not one to stay put for long, Mark is currently assembling a band and preparing to hit to the road in support of ‘Fly the Coop’ his latest album. He notes, ‘This album was 20 years in the making, a return to the old school roots origins that move me. It reeks of the road, of experience, of dive bars, the blues, dust, and rivers’. Lily Clark recently caught up with Mark to learn more about this exceptional American storyteller and his source of musical inspiration.

LILY: When When did you first discover your love of music?
MARK: Something clicked in college. I had a friend teach me a few chords on guitar one day and the day after I bought a cheapo guitar and started practicing like crazy. Been at it ever since.

LILY: Your song ‘Dive Bar Lawn’ is receiving a positive listener response on radio. What was your initial reaction when you first heard your song playing on radio?
MARK: Very pleased and proud. This taste of success has been the culmination of many moments of rejection and failure, so to receive this kind of positive response is very affirming.

LILY: What was the inspiration behind your debut radio single?
MARK: Well, to be honest, hoisting many a frosty beverage and hanging out with the regulars at my local dive bar. It’s a great place with a big heart.

LILY: Would you say that the mood of your other songs is in the same vein as ‘Dive Bar Lawn’?
MARK: No. Not necessarily. I do have other songs that are a bit introspective and slower, more downbeat like ‘Dive Bar Lawn’, but I also have songs that are more charged and fiery with greater pace. My songs range in mood in general.

LILY: How would you characterize yourself as an artist/musician?
MARK: I would characterize myself as a pretty serious chronicler of life, like a Bob Dylan or a Johnny Cash. I know that’s tough company, but that’s what I aspire to.

LILY: Did you come from a musical background? Are there other musicians in your family?
MARK: My dad plays the piano and growing up I always remember him entertaining at parties…he would sit down and start to play and sing, and people would gather around and begin to join in with the singing. At the time I didn’t think a lot of it, but now I have come to appreciate how cool that really was.

LILY: What do you find most rewarding about being an artist? What do you find most challenging?
MARK: I think the most rewarding thing for me is to hear that someone has been moved by or enjoyed my music. And it might be in a way that was unanticipated. Someone might have liked a part of a song lyric and have interpreted it totally different than I had intended…that’s cool too. Or characterized my music in their own, different way…I like that. What I find most challenging is the constant battle to not stay complacent in my comfort zone and to continually find ways to grow and be a better artist.

LILY: Who are your role models in music?
MARK: I love Tom Waits…he’s been an inspiration and an influence for a long time. Other role models are Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Nick Cave, Joe Henry and Gillian Welch.

LILY: Describe your best or most memorable performance.
MARK: I was asked about this recently and I will retell this story. I was living in Boston and had just finished a show at the Kirkland Café. Anyway, I stepped off the stage and a little old man who had been drinking and listening to me came over. He had been sitting at the bar, been playing a little pool but I had noticed that he stopped when I played ‘Truck Driver’s Blues’ by Merle Haggard. He got real emotional when he told me how much he enjoyed my set, held out some money and put it in my hand. This man must have been upwards of 80 and for him to give me money was just crazy –I tried to refuse it but he insisted. It really let me know that I had done something positive that night.

LILY: Do you have a music video for your hit single? If so, what can you tell us about it?
MARK: It’s in the works! We should start filming by the end of February. Will let you know more then!

LILY: I definitely look forward to hearing it! Thank you for taking time out to share your story with me. I wish you safe travels and much continued success!


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