We caught up recently with bluegrass singer/songwriter Mark Newton, who filled us in on his latest venture. After touring much of this year in a duo project with Carl Jackson, Mark has picked up a pair of strong pickers and will be working as a trio, billed as Mark Newton’s Stillhouse Band.
Joining Newton on guitar will be Andrew Blythe on banjo, bass and vocals, and Leah Needham on guitar, resonator guitar and vocals.
Mark was kind enough to share some details with us about the new band, starting with the genesis of the name
“I think names our the hardest part of developing a brand if you will. The name came from one of the tracks off of my Hillbilly Hemingway project titled Stillhouse Road. It’s a song that a Nashville writer (Julie Lee) wrote and when I performed it live, it always got a wonderful crowd response and became one of the popular tracks off of the project. Through discussion we felt the name provided the opportunity to explore all musical boundaries in terms of musical influence for the new group. Back in the big band era you had for example The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Count Basie Orchestra thus Mark Newton’s Stillhouse Band.
I really wanted a band name as opposed to ‘The Mark Newton Band’ or ‘Mark Newton and The…’ That way we could establish a logo and a ‘brand’ around it but at the same time recognize and give credit to the talent in the group or as a unit and overall sound.”
Newton has a a fairly robust catalog, from his early days as a member of the seminal Knoxville Grass, followed by projects with Heights Of Grass and The Virginia Squires. All those records, plus his own solo projects, gives him a nice base for choosing material for a new band.
“Yes, I’ll take material from my past body of work and eventually incorporate new material into the sets.
Being raised on bluegrass music it is really the backbone or roots of my influence, but at the same time I’ve just tried to vocally and musically just feel what comes natural and put music out there but not categorize it. To me good music is simply that. I think in large part my body of work speaks to that type of direction. I love lots of musical genre’s and really nothing’s going to change in that respect.”
So… will there be a Mark Newton’s Stillhouse Band album in the near future?
“Over the last several years I haven’t work the road or toured and I’ve been involved with producing records and production and event planning, etc. But once a musician always a musician and it never leaves you when it comes to performing live or that creative part of who you are. My intentions with this new band is to be more of a artist and not get involved with day to day management or booking as I’ve done over the years.
Obviously as part of the business one needs to be a part of that process but I’m focusing more on the artist creative side and by having Mountain Music Entertainment handling the business side of things it will provide me the opportunity to have more time to concentrate on material.
Over the last two years I’ve been stock piling a ton of original material and I’m excited about listening to all of it and getting to place to eventually record. I don’t have any immediate plans to record but there’s several record labels that have expressed interest. I’m going to take my time and make those decisions in due time.
I’m at a good place creatively in my life and I just simply want to have fun with music and hopefully the rest will fall into place.”
Look for a redesigned web site for the new group in short order.