Press Kit

Mark Growden is a singer, writer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, record producer, visual artist, workshop leader, and the founder and artistic director of The Calling All Choir.  He was raised in small mountain community in Northeast California where he spent lots of time alone in nature; this is reflected in his earthy, soulful and poetic work. Growden has released several critically acclaimed albums, including Saint Judas, which was awarded “2010 Rekkid of the Year” by music blog Stash Dauber and ranked in the 2010 Village Voice Critics Poll.  Growden has toured the the US extensively, performing at venues such as the The Fillmore, Cowell Theater, and Great American Music Hall in San Francisco; Snug Harbor in New Orleans; and The Knitting Factory and Tonic in New York. Growden’s one man show “Spare the Rod” – directed and co-written by Remy Charlip – played to sold-out audiences at Dancer’s Group/Footworks in San Francisco. Mark has composed original musical scores for a number of Dance and Theater companies, including Joe Goode Performance Group and Alonzo King’s Lines Contemporary Ballet, with whom he and his collaborators won the Isadora Duncan Award for Best Original Score for a New Dance Piece. He has scored several films, including Blood Tea and Red String, which won Best Animation at both the San Francisco Independent Film Festival and the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal.  Growden has performed and collaborated with numerous musicians including Hamza el Din, The San Francisco Opera, Remy Charlip, Kid Congo Powers, Wendell Brunious, Stan Ridgeway, John Santos, Omar Sosa, Ralph Carney, Rising Star Drum & Fife Band, James Singleton, Baby Gramps, Eric McFadden, Larry Sieberth, Extra Action Marching Band, Faun Fables, and Carla Kihlsted from Tin Hat Trio. Mark has devoted his life to making music for other people, and to helping other people make music for themselves. He leads community sings and singing workshops across the country.

PRESS IMAGES (Righ-click to download high resolution)

Mark Growden - Lose Me in the Sand album cover

PRESS QUOTES

  • “Gritty, soothing, mesmerizing, and exuberent, Growden’s musical style is otherworldly.” – Taos News
  • “his soundtrack moody richochets from hell to the stars above.” – SF Weekly
  • “Fiery, Earthy and sublimely sensual.” – Comet Magazine
  • “…as though Harry Smith, Kurt Weill, and John Cage had been reincarnated into a single body” – Stash Dauber
  • Mark Growden’s delivery is direct – powerful and precise as a street fighter. He simply knocks you out.” – Taos News
  • A sight and sound you don’t want to miss.” – S.F. Bay Guardian
  • “An unusual and voracious talent.” – Williamette Week
  • “Theatrical, dark and sexy.” – West Coast Performer
  • “Mark Growden has to be one California’s most colorful and intriguing musicians … Growden is a genius.” – Albuquerque Alibi
  • “Though Growden captures the sorrow and sincerity of a high lonesome crooner, his unique instrumental blend of Dixieland, Frontierland, and gypsy caravan band inhabits a genre all its own.” – SF Bay Guardian
  • “He writes songs that pulse with drama, songs that slide with grace.” – Tucson Weekly
  • “Part singer-songwriter, part bluesman, part avant-gardist, he’s an avatar of bohemian weirdness on a par with Tom Waits or Joe Henry.” – Fort Worth Weekly
  • “Torrid lyricism and fierce accordion rascality. His live shows are becoming the stuff of legend.” – East Bay Express
  • “Growden’s voice is bigger than a 10-story building, and when he clacks on his cowboy boots on a hollow patch of floor along to some of his tunes, the sound seems to reverberate across the globe.” – Laura Casey, Contra Costa Times
  • “He gave us a heartfelt cover of Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man that made every woman in the audience squirm. By the time the handsome Irishman was done, as the old saying goes—there wasn’t a dry seat in the house.” – Music Union
  • “Mark Growden possesses the same raw passion and fury seen in Van Morrison, Tom Waits, and Old Red but also the compositional finesse of Chris Rea, Robert Wyatt, and The Woes” – Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
  • “Though Growden captures the sorrow and sincerity of a high lonesome crooner, his unique instrumental blend of Dixieland, Frontierland, and gypsy caravan band inhabits a genre all its own.” – SF Bay Guardian
  • “a strong, sensitive, and passionate stage presence that the audience could not help but connect with.” – Tucson Examiner
  • “Growden’s untrammeled voice, a stage player in itself, dives and rises animatedly around his songs, teasing the tremor and tempo of his crackerjack band.” – North Bay Bohemian
  • “tightly-controlled, richly inflected, and subtly expressive vocals.” – Flavorpill LA
  • “Big, deep, passionate…” – The Register Guard
  • “Growden is an accomplished a multi-instrumentalist and a skilled showman, but it’s his voice that sets him apart. It is big and, if not operatic, commanding.” – The Register Guard
  • “Mark’s musical approach is novel—not novelty. He’s innovative.” – Music Union
  • “If you’re ready for some depth — and something different — catch Mark Growden.” – Humboldt County Journal
  • “His music combines elements from classical jazz ensembles, New Orleans-style brass bands, cabaret fanfare, and circus troupes with the stark honesty of Appalachian folk ballads and African-American prison songs.” – Taos News
  • “think Bertolt Brecht meets Blind Willie Johnson.” – I-94 Bar

About Mark’s 2010 release Saint Judas

  • “It sounds like America’s Great Depression took a trip to New Orleans, Broadway and Vegas and then tumbled into the post-industrial underground — swallowed in city sewers, scuffed under construction worker’s boots, pierced by punk rock attitude — to come out in an exquisite, visionary place.” - Taos News
  • “Growden has crafted a tour de force full-length that sonically burrows under your skin and finds its way up the spine to lodge permanently in the cortex.” – BLURT
  • “St. Judas was recorded live, like a 50’s jazz album, giving his music the quality of a lovingly, painstakingly handmade gift.”  - Music Union
  • “Saint Judas” is a strong, deep, and mature album for fans of blues that bleed realism, loss, sorrow, and redemption. Superb.” – Thee Goatsden
  • “This isn’t a CD as such but rather a cabaret of the rings of a very humanized hell located somewhere in the boggy depths of the deep South, not Birmingham, not New Orleans, not Atlanta but the shadowy bastard offspring of them all.” – Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
  • “Listen to merely a minute of this masterpiece, and you’re as helpless as bird before snake, fascinated, terrified, seduced.” – Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
  • “for an album so intimately acquainted with woe, the real connective thread throughout is not one of pain, but one of love. Hurt love hopeful love, dashed love, and eternal love, each facet of the ever-abiding emotion has its own moment to shine in the flickering glow of the Mark Growden ensemble’s warm strings, hot licks, and sizzling horns.” – SF Bay Guardian
  • “Part chamber music, part High Noon…” SF Bay Guardian
  • “a homegrown affair all the way through.” – SF Bay Guardian
  • “a dark journey that finds Kurt Weil’s twisted drama, Alan Lomax’s primitive field recordings, and the dry deliberation of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits all held in a common bond.” – Amplifier
  • “a strangely fascinating and compelling glimpse into a netherworld of shadowy late night cabaret and smoky barroom intimacy.” – Amplifier
  • “A must listen for fans of the genre. Hell, it’s a must listen for anyone who loves music.” – Synthesis (about Saint Judas)
  • “A gritty treasure of urban romanticism.” – Flavorpill LA
  • “a lusty, somewhat loosely presented collection of poems set to disjointed waltzes and dark ballads of biblical proportion.” – Chico News and Review
  • “a genre all its own” – SF Bay Guardian
  • “Homespun and honest.” – KFJC
  • “gestural and hypnotic.” – The Rumpus
  • “stirring ballads, rousing narratives of love and loss, and raucous marches” – Taos News

LIST BIO

 

DISCOGRAPHY

  • Mark Growden & The New Orleans Heavies – In Velvet (2013)
  • Mark Growden – Blood Tea and Red String (2012)
  • Mark Growden – Lose me in the Sand (2011)
  • Mark Growden – Saint Judas (2010)
  • Mark Growden – Island of the Gondoliers (2009)
  • Mark Growden – Live at the Casbah – San Diego (2004)
  • Mark Growden – Live at the Odeon (2003)
  • Mark Growden’s Electric Pinata – Inside Beneath Behind (2001)
  • Mark Growden – Downstairs Karaoke (1999)
  • Mark Growden – This Piggy (1997)
  • Mark Growden – Don’t Wanna Go Back (1996)

COMPILATIONS

  • Oliver’s Real Music – Volume 3 (2013)
  • Luz de Vida – A Compilation to Benefit the Victims of the Tucson Tragedy (2011)
  • Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits – His Words – Our Music (2007)
  • SF Weekly Music Awards Compilation (2003)
  • SF Weekly Music Awards Compilation (2002)
  • Beastfest Compilation (2001)
  • Wavelength Infinity, A Sun Ra Tribute (1995)

AS A PRODUCER

  • The Mockingbirds – Lacuna (2012)
  • Drea – Drea (2012)
  • Oomph! – Scott King/Christopher St. Johns

COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS

  • Tock – Tock (1996)
  • Big Butter - From the Udder (1990)
  • Big Butter - Step In and Do a Certain Something (1988)
  • E is for Elephant - Uncle Grapefruit (1988)

AS A GUEST

  • Drea – Surrender (Soon to be Released)
  • The Tiger Lillies – Rime of the Ancient Mariner (2012)
  • The Mockingbirds – Lacuna (2012)
  • Ian Franklin and Infinite Frequency – Breaking Grounds (2012)
  • The Crux – Now Ferment (2009)
  • Splatter Trio – Splatter Trio + n (2007)
  • Six Eye Columbia – Frowny Frown (2001)
  • Six Eye Columbia – A Million Six (2001)
  • Ray’s Vast Basement – On the Banks of Time (2000)
  • Steve August – Happiness the Hero (1999)
  • Lori B – Hurricane Child (1998)
  • Alonzo King’s Lines Contemporary Ballet – Sacred Text (1996)
  • Bob Weir (Grateful Dead) – Baru Bay (1995)

AWARDS

  • Artist-in-residence - Paul Dresher Ensemble/ARC, Oakland, CA, 2014
  • Artist-in-residence - Chalk Hill, CA, Summer 2013
  • Composer-in-residence - Herekeke, New Mexico, January 2011.
  • Stash Dauber’s 2010 “Rekkid of the Year” for Growden’s album Saint Judas
  • 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

DIRECTION, MUSIC DIRECTION, COMPOSING

  • Dark Kabaret - (Composer, Music Director, Performer) Four nights of International cabaret, circus, and variety. The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA (2013)
  • Hybrid 2 - New interdisciplinary performance piece with director Sara Shelton Mann. Showbox, Los Angeles. (2013)
  • Teaspoon of Sugar - (Composer, Music Director, Performer) New interdisciplinary performance piece. Oregon Country Faire, Veneta, OR (2013)
  • Subject to Change - (Composer, Music Director, Performer) New dance piece with choreographer Watta Ribas. Site specific, Sebastopol, CA (2013)
  • Fallin’ Down on We - (Composer, Music Director, Performer) New dance/aerial piece with Flyaway Productions. The Crucible, Oakland, CA (2013)
  • Oomph! - (Producer) New opera composed by Scott King with libretto by Christopher St. John. Marigny Opera House, New Orleans, LA (2012)
  • Dream of Nekyia - (Composer/Music Director/Musician) Kristina Nekyia. Commissioned to compose and record an original score with a band comprised of jazz legends in New Orleans, LA (2011)
  • COVERT (Co-founder/Co-producer /Artistic Director/Music Director) Site specific performance series in collaboration with John Law, Suicide Club member and founder of the Cacophony Society.  Various locations in San Francisco Bay Area (2009-ongoing)
  • At Play (Composer/Performer/Lyricist) Lizz Roman and dancers.  Dance Mission Theater (2009)
  • Life Among the Institutions (Composer) Nina Galin Performance Group – Commissioned to set Shakespeare’s “To be, or not to be.” soliloquy to music.  Main Stage Dance/Theater Festival – U.C. Davis (2009)
  • How to Survive the Apocalypse (Composer/Performer/Vocal Soloist) – Written by Erik Davis.  Stage Werx Theater (2009)
  • The Fire Odyssey (Music Director/Composer) Crucible production of Homer’s Odyssey for the Fire Arts Festival.  Oakland, CA (2007)
  • Dido and Aeneas (Composer/Vocal Soloist/Actor) San Francisco Opera/Crucible production of Purcell’s Opera.  Oakland, CA (2004)
  • The A**hole Monologues (Writer/ Composer/Solo Performer) Performed solo comedic multi-media theater piece The Nasty, in four runs of the Asshole Monologues in New York City (Off Broadway), San Francisco and Los Angeles (2001-2003)
  • Transparent Body (Composer) Joe Goode Performance Group. Irvine Barclay Theater (2001), Cowell Theater SF (2002), Yerba Buena Center (2003)
  • 1,000 Grey Birds (Composer/Performer /Music Director) Directed by Angus Balbernie.  Intersection for the Arts, SF (1999)
  • The Crimes and Confessions of Kip Knutsen (Composer/Performer/Music Director) Written and performed by Deke Weaver.  Intersection for the Arts, SF (1999)
  • Girlfriend (Composer/Performer/Music Director) Written and performed by Deke Weaver. Edge Festival, SF (1997)
  • Spare the Rod (Co-Writer/Composer/ Solo Performer) Directed and co-written by Remy Charlip. Dancer’s Group/Footwork in San Francisco (1996)
  • Sacred Text (Musician/Performer) Alonzo King’s Lines Contemporary Ballet.  Center for the Arts – Yerba Buena Gardens, SF (1996)
  • Not a Prayer (Music Director/Composer /Performer) Directed by Jess Curtis, Men Dancing XIV, Theater Artaud, SF & New Performance Gallery, SF (1995)
  • Kept (Music Director/Composer/ Performer) Written by Ken Prestininzi.  Directed by Ken Prestininzi and Jess Curtis, Intersection for the Arts, SF (1994)
  • Touch Prayer (Music Director/ Composer/Performer) Wise Fool Puppet Intervention, Dolores Park & Lake Merritt, SF and Oakland (1993-1994)
  • Sex and Gravity (Collaborator/ Composer/Performer) Directed by Jess Curtis, 848 Community Space, SF (1993 & 1995), Improv Festival, NY (1994), Dance Place, Washington, DC (1994), Highways, Santa Monica (1995)
  • Catch (Composer/Performer) Keith Hennessy, Scott Wells and Jim Owen, Men Dancing XII, Theater Artaud (1993)
  • Skatango (Composer/Performer) Wells & Hermesdorff Dance Co., Edge Festival, Dancer’s Group/Footwork, SF (1993), New Performance Gallery, SF (1994)
  • Babel (Music Director/Composer/ Performer) Wise Fool Puppet Intervention, Fillmore Center, SF (1993)

LIVE MUSIC AND THEATER COLLABORATION

  • Growden has collaborated with a wide range of artists in making live art.  He was a primary collaborator in these ensembles: The Deke and Mark Show (twisted storytelling with live accompaniment), Tock (improv ensemble), Xephyr (Orff Schulwerck meets family theater), Ruckus (theater/clown/music ensemble), Zoh (improv/world fusion), and E is for Elephant (art rock).
  • Mark has also performed and collaborated with Hamza el Din, John Law, The San Francisco Opers, Remy Charlip, Stan Ridgeway, John Santos, Omar Sosa, Ann Magnuson, Ralph Carney, Baby Gramps, Kid Congo Powers, Eric McFadden, The Fighting Instruments of Karma Chamber Band/Orchestra, Rube Waddell, Extra Action Marching Band, Faun Fables, Carla Kihlsted, Peter Whitehead, Stephen Kent, Amore-Belhom Duo, Glen Spearman, Myles Boisen, Hiroko and Koichi Tamano, Trance Mission, and Tabla Rasa.

 

VIDEO/FILM

  • Coyote - Christiane Cegavske (2010)
  • Martyr – Thad Povey (2009)
  • Island of the Gondoliers – Guido Muzzarelli (2009)
  • Welldigger – Phillip Fagan (2007)
  • Blood Tea and Red String – Christiane Cegavske (2007)
  • Elegy for Seven Falling Objects – Thad Povey (2003)
  • Under a Shipwrecked Moon - AnteroAlli (2001)
  • Hysteria – AnteroAlli (2001)
  • Mother – Thad Povey (2000)
  • F**k Boy – Thad Povey (2000)
  • Uncle Fred – Phil Fagan (2000)
  • The Jasper Ridge Preservation Project – Tamzen Orion (1998)
  • Mother – Chad Adair (1995)
  • Fishboy – Chad Adair (1994)
  • Strips of Cloth and Paper – Tamzen Orion (1994)
© MARK GROWDEN | rsneight designs