Mark Newton Band
Mark Newton may not have been a household name to fans of roots/acoustic music a few years ago, but the release of his first solo CD in 1998, Living a Dream, and its subsequent success, went a long way toward “re-introducing” this bluegrass veteran to the public.
The Mark Newton Band Includes: Clay Hess, Beth Lawrence, John Wheat & Andy Ball
Originally from Paducah, Ky., Mark Newton was born into a musical family. Mark’s father played mandolin, guitar and fiddle and his mother was an accomplished pianist, so it was no surprise that Mark took to music as well, first appearing on stage at the age of fourteen. The family moved to Fredericksburg, Va. in 1960 where Mark was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by a culture rich in music. The DC area of Virginia in the mid-60’s was a booming scene for festivals, and Mark took advantage of this. . traveling every weekend to take in shows.
In the mid 80′s Mark joined the Virginia Squires, a band that was on the leading edge of groups that were developing a style known as “contemporary” bluegrass. Mark was the lead guitarist and singer for the Squires which also included future bluegrass stars, Rickie Simpkins, Sammy Shelor and Ronnie Simpkins. According to Mark, “We weren’t necessarily trying to create a sound that would be labeled as contemporary bluegrass. All of us grew up with traditional roots, so we tried to find the balance between what was honest and true and music that was influencing our generation (Rock’n'Roll for example) to create an identity.” The Squires released five albums, four of which were on the Rebel label; Mountains and Memories, I’m Working My Way, Hard Times and Heartaches, and Variations. All five albums were met with critical acclaim, and established the group as one of the most innovative forces in modern bluegrass.
A full decade after the Squires disbanded, Mark took about a 5 year hiatus from the music business. In his words, “I’d been clipping along at pretty good pace. I’d always been in groups that were fairly successful. When the Squires disbanded, it was the first time I’d been on my own… and I really didn’t know what to do.” Once Mark had taken some time to reflect, he began coming up with ideas for the future. Living in Fredericksburg there were a tremendous amount of players, so Mark had plenty of opportunities to get out and perform. He recorded a live record with Larry Stephenson, Bill Emerson and David Parmley which helped to ignite the spark for him to go forward and put together his own band. Mark decided that the time had come for his first solo outing. The result was 1998′s Living a Dream CD (Rebel), which paired him with and paid homage to, some of his biggest musical influences.
While cutting Living a Dream, Mark came up with the concept for Follow me back to the Fold ~ his tribute to women in bluegrass. This project has become one of Mark’s most widely recognized accomplishments. “The idea came to me because I did this whole album [Living a Dream] and afterward realized that there was not one woman on it”, recalls Mark. “It was an oversight… and I realized there have been a lot of women who have personally impacted me, starting back with Gloria Belle, and I felt I needed to do something about that.” The album became a landmark project for bluegrass, and a personal milestone for Mark Newton, capturing IBMA’s Recorded Event of the Year Award in 2001.
In 2004, Mark Newton made the decision to relocate from Fredericksburg, VA to Nashville, Tenn. According to Mark, “I felt like I’d reached a point where I wasn’t growing musically, and needed a change”. Mark made the move because he felt that Nashville will be a place where he can learn and grow artistically while tapping into the pulse of the music business. With a new location and band in place, Mark is excited about embarking into this new chapter of his life.