Mark Houser and Bluegrass Drive is on the move
February 14, 2013 John Goad
Singer-songwriter Mark Houser has bluegrass running through his veins. As Lester Flatt’s cousin, it’s no surprise that he has spent his whole life listening to bluegrass music. Though he has previously recorded a country album and written several songs which have been recorded by bluegrass artists, his first effort at a bluegrass album is the recently released Uneven Road. This twelve-song collection from Rural Rhythm Records offers listeners a solid contemporary bluegrass listening experience.Houser is credited as writer or co-writer on all twelve of the album’s songs. The tracks range from tender love songs to dark tales of murder and regret.
The darker end of the spectrum is where the album’s standout tracks can be found, particularly John the Baptist, a tale of preachers gone bad with a nice groove and hints of recent Mountain Heart and Ricky Skaggs in the music. When one of the characters sees his preacher father “hold ‘em under in the mighty Mississippi, ”it’s not exactly baptism he’s referring to. Delilah is another fine song, sharing the thoughts of a man who wonders if the woman he killed knows he is about to be executed for his crime. The dobro and fiddle on this track work well to create a lonesome sound.Several of Houser’s songs have been recorded by Carrie Hassler, including this album’s opening track. Hard Rain, which also provided the name for Hassler’s band, is a driving song about a man who is trying to get home to the country as soon as he can. Hassler is also a cowriter on the clever River of Regret.Uneven Road also contains several songs which are more cheerful. Houser’s love songs are sweet and mellow, with a gentle vocal delivery. I’ll Be Alright andReasons Why are reminiscent of Don Williams, both sharing the singer’s undying devotion. The title track shares the same sentiment, with the singer asking the one he loves to just let him “bear [her] gently down life’s uneven road.”The music on this album is excellent. Houser has assembled some first rate pickers to serve as his band, referred to on the album as Bluegrass Drive. Houser takes lead vocal duty throughout the album, in addition to playing guitar. Also featured are Cody Kilby (guitar and banjo), Andy Leftwich (fiddle and mandolin), Cory Walker (banjo), Barry Bales (bass), and Scotty Sanders (dobro). This group obviously has a firm grasp on how to play fine contemporary bluegrass, and as a result, Uneven Road is a very enjoyable listen.While he is relatively new to the bluegrass world as an artist, Mark Houser isn’t a stranger to the music itself. For more information on Houser and his music, visit www.markhouserbluegrass.com.The new album can be purchased from his website, as well as various online music retailers.You might also like
Mark Houser and Bluegrass Drive's CD Uneven Road is reviewed in the February edition of Bluegrass Unlimited.
MARK HOUSER AND BLUEGRASS DRIVE
UNEVEN ROAD Rural Rhythm
RUR-1107 It has been 24 years since songwriter Mark Houser’s first recording. This is his second. In between he wrote and co-wrote songs for a number of performers, most notably Carrie Hassler and The Roys. Uneven Road ties many of those threads together. Houser wrote both the title song and “I’ll Be Alright.” Both of them are gentle and medium-paced and both of them use the theme of the need we have for and the strength we gain from loving support. “Uneven Road” succeeds the best of the two mostly for its almost anthem-like melody. But they’re both pleasant and uplifting songs. Similarly pleasant and uplifting is “Lead Me Home,” one of ten songs Houser co-wrote here, in this case with Reed Nielson. Again, the theme addressed is the value of support, but here the support asked for and received comes from God. Given a slow, pleading setting, the emotion it creates is quite palpable.In the socially conscious vein and one of the best tracks here is Houser’s and Mark Conklin’s look at the Civil Rights struggle, “When Standing Up Stood For Something.” It’s always good when songs break free from the usual thematic axis, and this one does so with importance. In contrast to the positivity is the propulsive opener, “Hard Rain,” written with Jimmy Bilbrey. It’s just an old down-and-outer, but a good one and one that first saw light on Carrie Hassler’s debut. Then there’s “John The Baptist,” the dark, semi-funky tale of a preacher with a past and of the bad end he finds. That’s followed a track later by “Wish I Owned That Land,” in which Houser (and Nielson) rail against the disillusionment that often comes with progress. A heavy sense of tension and anger emerges with that one, but still a highlight song.Pleasant, uplifting, socially-conscious or ominous, this good debut is strengthened by some of Nashville’s best players and by Houser’s even-tempered and warm baritone vocals. (Rural Rhythm, P.O. Box 750, Mt. Juliet, TN 37121, www.ruralrhythm.com.)BW
DECEMBER 7, 2012
We have remained #31 this week. 4 of the last 5 weeks, we have been ranked 38, 37, none, 31 and 31.
- BLACK DIAMOND SHOW on WNHU 88.7 FM West Haven, CThttp://blackdiamondshow.blogspot.comFor the second month in a row, I've voted for Mark Houser's "John the Baptist" as the top Bluegrass song this month. Love the new album from him and his band Bluegrass Drive: lot of good tracks on it -"Hard Rain" and "Delilah" are two other favorites. Lots of good music out there!
Mark Houser & Bluegrass Drive’s Album, UNEVEN ROAD
Debuts at #9 on Billboard Bluegrass Albums Chart
Label mates Carrie Hassler and Mark Houser
Mark Houser & Bluegrass Drive’s Album, UNEVEN ROAD Debuts at #9 on Billboard Bluegrass Albums Chart Successful CD Release Concert Featured Performances by Carrie Hassler,
Arlo Gilliam, Delnora Reed, and more Label mates Carrie Hassler and Mark Houser Nashville, TN (September 21, 2012) -- Rural Rhythm Records is proud to announce the new album, UNEVEN ROAD by Mark Houser & Bluegrass Drive debuts this week at #9 on the Billboard Bluegrass Albums Chart. Mark recently held a “Bluegrass on the Green” concert that was hosted by Philip Gibbons of COUNTRY GIANT 94.7 Radio. This exciting event featured performances by Mark Houser, Carrie Hassler, Delnora Reed, Arlo Gilliam, Wilder Mountain and Jim Bowman. Livingston MayorCurtis Hayes, Livingston-Overton County Chamber of Commerce Director Greg McDonald, and Overton County Executive Ron Cyrus were in attendance to celebrate Mark's new album. (see photo below.)
UNEVEN ROAD includes the recently released first single, “River of Regret” written by Mark Houser, Arlo Gilliam, and Carrie Hassler. This exciting new album features the talents of: Rhonda Vincent, Andy Leftwich, Cody Kilby, Barry Bales, Cory Walker, Scotty Sanders, Paul Brewster, Dawn Sears, and more. The album was co-produced by Mark Houser and Little River Band guitarist, Rich Herring.
Livingston Mayor Curtis Hayes, Livingston/Overton County Chamber of Commerce Director
Greg McDonald, Mark Houser and, Overton County Executive Ron Cyrus
Livingston artist CD release
By AMY DAVIS
LIVINGSTON -- Mark Houser didn't set out to become a recording artist on a bluegrass label.
At age 53, the singer-songwriter had primarily spent the last three decades pitching his songs to others in the music industry.
But Saturday in his hometown of Livingston, Houser will be the one taking center stage at a CD release party to promote his first album, Uneven Road, which will be officially released by Rural Rhythm Records on Sept. 11.
The concert event, "Bluegrass on the Green," is being hosted by radio personality Philip Gibbons of the Country Giant and will feature five acts in addition to Houser just off the courthouse square.
The schedule is as follows:
* 11 a.m. - Wilder Mountain (an Upper Cumberland bluegrass band)
* 11:30 a.m. - Jim Bowman (Houser's first co-writer, who wrote the hit "Cowboy's Dream" by Mel Tillis)
* Noon - Arlo Gilliam (bass player with Travis Tritt and co-writer of Houser's current single, "River of Regret.")
* 12:30 p.m. - Delnora Reed (bluegrass/Americana artist)
* 1 p.m. - Carrie Hassler (Rural Rhythm Recording artist, who recorded three of Houser's songs, including the 2007 hit "Seven Miles from Wichita," which reached number one on the bluegrass charts)
* 1:30 p.m. - Mark Houser and Bluegrass Drive.
Concert-goers will also enjoy free barbecue and cupcakes.
Houser described his music as a mixture between traditional bluegrass and Americana and says the musicians who recorded with him are "the best bluegrass players in Nashville." The 12-song album features the talents of Rhonda Vincent, seven-time IBMA female vocalist of the year; Andy Leftwich, Cody Kilby and Paul Brewster of Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder; Barry Bales of Alison Krauss and Union Station; and Dawn Sears, who sings with Vince Gill.
Vincent, the biggest name on the project, sings a duet with Houser on the song "Lead Me Home."
Houser -- whose day job is field office manager with the Tennessee Department of Health in the Division of General Environmental Health -- recalls how the album project began 18 months ago.
"I'm a songwriter more than I am a singer. I was just making a record for myself," said Houser, who also happens to be the president and CEO of Writers In-House Music in Nashville, a company he started in 1988.
He invited some of his song-writing and musician friends to join him in Nashville for the project.
"I wrote all the songs on the record, and we just went into the studio and recorded it, never thinking about getting it on a label," he said.
But after the album was recorded in February of 2011, friends of Houser encouraged him to take the next step and pitch it to a label.
So Houser took that advice and caught the attention of Rural Rhythm Records -- which includes such artists as Carrie Hassler, Lonesome River Band, Bobby Osborne and Marty Raybon.
"A very reputable group of people are on that label, and I'm excited to be associated with them," Houser said. "Nine of the top 30 songs in bluegrass right now are Rural Rhythm songs."
Houser's musical accomplishment is the culmination of years of work and hundreds of songs -- 80 of them having been recorded by other artists.
But not all of them are bluegrass; he's also penned songs in other genres, including country. His song "God Only Knows" was recorded by Curb Records artist and long-time friend Rodney Atkins. Another song, "The Big Feature," was the closing theme of the 1989 motion picture No Justice.
But now it's Houser's turn to enjoy the spotlight.
"I am doing something I never thought I would do, or even set out to do," Houser said. "I've never had a project that had my name as a singer because I never considered myself a singer."
He noted that it was especially unexpected at his age.
"This is a young person's game," he said. "Most people get record deals in their 20s or early 30s. So it's kind of unusual to be 53 and have your first record out, and I'm thankful for that."
His first single on the album, "River of Regret," is already getting radio air play, and he looks forward to continuing to promote his music.
For more information, visit www.markhouserandbluegrassdrive.com.
“Bluegrass on the Green”
Concert Announced Celebrating Release of Mark Houser & Bluegrass Drive’s Album UNEVEN ROAD
Special Guests Include:
Carrie Hassler, Arlo Gilliam, Jim Bowman, Delnora Reed,
and Wilder Mountain
Nashville, TN (August 29, 2012)
Acclaimed singer-songwriter, MARK HOUSER announced details for the upcoming “Bluegrass on the Green” Concert celebrating the upcoming album release of UNEVEN ROAD by MARK HOUSER & BLUEGRASS DRIVE.
The event takes place Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 11:00 am (CT) just off the square at 303 West Main Street in Livingston, Tennessee, “The Home of Americana Music.”
The “Bluegrass on the Green” concert will be hosted by Philip Gibbons of COUNTRY GIANT Radio. This family friendly event includes performances by:
11:00 am - Wilder Mountain
(local bluegrass band from the Upper Cumberland)
11:30 am - Jim Bowman
(Mark Houser’s first co-writer and the first artist to cut one of his songs. Jim wrote the hit “Cowboy's Dream” by Mel Tillis in early 80's.)
12:00 pm - Arlo Gilliam
(Bass player with Travis Tritt. He is the co-writer of the current single, “River of Regret” from Mark Houser & Bluegrass Drive’s upcoming album UNEVEN ROAD and “My Kind of Crazy” by Emerson Drive.
12:30 pm - Delnora Reed
(Bluegrass/ Americana artist and great-granddaughter of legendary fiddler Henry Reed)
1:00 pm - Carrie Hassler
(Rural Rhythm Recording artist. Long time friend of Houser. She has recorded three Mark Houser songs including her “Seven Miles From Wichita.” Carrie is also the co-writer of the current single “River of Regret.”
1:30 pm - Mark Houser
UNEVEN ROAD by MARK HOUSER & BLUEGRASS DRIVE releases on Rural Rhythm Records, September 11, 2012. The label recently released the first single, “River of Regret” written by Mark Houser,Arlo Gilliam, and Carrie Hassler . This exciting new album features the talents of: Rhonda Vincent, Andy Leftwich, Cody Kilby, Barry Bales, Cory Walker, Scotty Sanders, Paul Brewster, Dawn Sears, and more. The album was co-produced by Mark Houser and Little River Band guitarist, Rich Herring.
Radio: Rick Fowler 615-470-5451
Media: Penni McDaniel 678-377-3298
Press ReleasePublished on
Rural Rhythm Records is proud to announce the new radio single release, “River of Regret” by Mark Houser & Bluegrass Drive, has now been released to radio. The single appears on the label’s FRESH CUTS & KEY TRACKs radio disc and is also available at AirplayDirect.com. The song was written by Mark Houser, Arlo Gilliam, and Carrie Hassler and includes the talents of: Mark Houser (Lead Vocals, Guitar); Cody Kilby (Guitar, Banjo); Andy Leftwich (Fiddle, Mandolin); Barry Bales (Bass); Scotty Sanders (Dobro); Paul Brewster & Dawn Sears (Harmony Vocals).
Rural Rhythm Records and sister publishing company Sage Brush Music are jointly proud to present new music by Mark Houser who is a Bluegrass and Country music hit songwriter. Mark’s songs have topped the Bluegrass charts including the hit, “Seven Miles From Wichita” by Rural Rhythm artist Carrie Hassler. Mark first received Country acclaim with “God Only Knows” by Curb Records artist Rodney Atkins. Houser wrote many songs with Atkins including six on the developmental project that landed Atkins a major label recording contract with Curb Records. “Houser is the first guy that wrote songs with me. Convinced me I wasn’t crazy for believing music was magical. God only knows where I’d be if I hadn’t met Mark,” said Atkins.
“River of Regret” is from Mark Houser & Bluegrass Drive’s upcoming September 11, 2012 album release, UNEVEN ROAD that contains 12 powerful songs written or co-written by Mark and showcases his distinctive vocals. This exciting new project features many of today’s top Bluegrass artists including; Rhonda Vincent, Andy Leftwich (fiddle), Cody Kilby, Barry Bales, Cory Walker, Scotty Sanders and more. The album was co-produced by Houser and Little River Band guitarist, Rich Herring.
For more information on Mark Houser, and to pre-order your copy of UNEVEN ROAD, please visit www.MarkHouserbluegrass.com.
Mark Houser Signs
with Rural Rhythm Records
Mark Houser and Bluegrass Drive is a bluegrass band on Rural Rhythm Records. The first release from the band, the album UNEVEN ROAD will be released September 11, 2012 (RUR-1107). The first single RIVER OF REGRET will be released on August 13, 2012.
The band is based out of Livingston- Overton County, TN the “Home of Americana Music” and the birthplace of bluegrass icon Lester Flatt. Houser’s songwriting career began in 1983 and includes over 80 songs recorded with the bluegrass hit SEVEN MILES FROM WICHITA by Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain as one of those. Other bluegrass cuts include more by Hassler (Hard Rain, Tell Me Like A Man) and also include cuts by The Roys and Jessica Kilroy.
He has pinned songs in other genres as well including, (Country) Rodney Atkins, Jack Greene, David Adam Brynes, Arlo Gilliam, Addison Johnson among others; (Pop) Little River Band and Russell Hitchcock of Air Supply; (Christian) Amy Choate.
Songs released in other countries include Heidi Raye (Canada) Riatta(Canada); Scott Dann (Australia) and Elena Ley (Italy) to name a few. Houser’s song THE BIG PICTURE was the closing theme of the 1989 motion picture NO JUSTICE.
Mark Houser’s Uneven Road Leads to an Unexpected Destination
In the winter of 2010 long time Nashville songwriter Mark Houser began to consider going into the studio and recording a bluegrass record of his own material.
“I felt like the songs we were writing said something that I wanted to say and I was having a hard time getting those songs recorded by established artists. I just thought I’d go record a few of them and sell them to close friends and have something to leave to my children and grandchildren,” Houser said. “I never really thought about getting a record deal out of it.”
When Rich Herring, guitar player with the Little River Band, decided to come on board the planning stages were underway. “The bottom line is I had great faith in Rich. In ten years of making demos together I had a great level of trust in him and his ability.” The two sit down and discussed the potential of creating a bluegrass record at Herring’s Trax Studios.
“We discussed every aspect of making a record. I had a marketing plan that I was working on at the same time in hopes of maybe breaking even on the project.” Houser said. “Rich had a personal relationship with Andy Leftwich who is an incredible fiddle and mandolin player and we got him and guitar player Cody Kilby from Ricky Skaggs’ band Kentucky Thunder. Having secured those we got Barry Bales from Alison Krauss to play bass.” “Scotty Sanders had played on a number of my demos at Rich’s studio and he agreed to play dobro which left us seeking a banjo player and we got a young and talented Cory Walker to fill that bill.”
Joining the musicians were Paul Brewster and Dawn Sears both outstanding singers to sing the harmonies. Brewster most recently has been singing with Skagg’s band while Sears has a long time singing relationship with Vince Gill. Filling out the background vocals was Herring who also played guitar and various other instruments, including even an accordion on Reasons Why.
Rhonda Vincent agreed to appear in a guest role for the Song Lead Me Home and then Ashlee Blankenship was asked to sing a duet on Reasons Why.
The song When Standin’ Up Stood For Something was the last one to be completed. The song is about the civil rights movement and what it might have been like to be a white southerner on the bus when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. It is a powerful song that needed a unique perspective. Joanne Williams agreed to sing the intro to the song and the album was completed.
Rural Rhythm Records picked up the album after a November meeting. “I’ll never forget the day Sam (Passsamano) called to tell me they wanted to sign me. It was Monday, November 14, 2011, at 4:30 p.m. It was my 53 birthday!”
From November 14, 2011 to August 13, 2012 the partnership has been developed and opportunities taken to make this release of the single River of Regret a success. The album from Mark Houser and Bluegrass Drive entitled Uneven Road is set for release on September 11, 2012.
John the Baptist
Mark Houser and Bluegrass Drive
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