MARK WAYNE GLASMIRE
Mark Wayne Glasmire writes and sings with a depth of understanding that only a dashing, well-traveled troubadour can. It is obvious that he's lived life to the fullest - and taken notes along the way. His newest CD, LIFE GOES ON, is a 12-song disc that includes 10 originals and two outside tunes. Mark's lyrics run the gamut from heartache and jubilation; despair and love, disappointment and hope. His voice is a full-bodied, yet crisp tenor reminiscent at times of an early John Denver or a modern-day Collin Raye, but it is distinct and different - and immediately identifiable. Intriguing and hypnotic melody lines recapture the halcyon days of James Taylor and Pure Prairie League; gentle country ballads are interspersed with mid-tempo odes, but each song carries its own original message. "Most of what I write comes from my own life experience," Mark says from his Arlington, Texas home. "Occasionally, I'll take inspiration from a friend's situation, but mostly my songs reflect what I'm going through."
Whether the topic is a new romance (as reflected in the lyrics of "You Opened My Eyes"), or the eternal hope that shines in "Shelter From The Storm," each song is embodied with a whimsical (and often intricate) melody that perfectly supports the song's message. On "Everything Is Gonna Be Alright," the disc's first single release, Glasmire takes on the current negative job and housing markets and gives us hope, reminding us that love and faith will see us through even the hardest times. "I wrote it about a childhood friend of mine who fell on hard times during the first job 'crisis' back in the 90s," Mark says. "It was rough for awhile, but he never quit believing. Now he's the senior vice president at a huge company."
Faith was instilled in Mark at an early age and his first 14 years were filled with church activities. "My mom sang in the choir, and the church was really our whole social life," he adds. In the steel town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Mark grew up with a piano-playing dad who worked up to three jobs at a time to provide for his family. "Dad had a construction company that did a lot of infrastructure work for the city," Glasmire notes. "I worked for him during summers in high school and on into college and after." The company excavated for major projects such as sewer lines; water mains; sidewalks; curbs and more. It was often feast or famine, but his dad never quit. "He passed away in 2007, and there's not a day that goes by that I don't think of him," says Mark, who wrote the CD's "Missing You" in memory of his father.
His parents gave him his first guitar for Christmas the year that Mark turned 10. "I'd heard The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show," Mark says. "That was the moment that I knew music was what I wanted to do." A few lessons later, Glasmire set down the guitar, but remained enthralled by the music of the day. His range of influences encompasses the "greats" of that time period, and includes: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jim Croce and Harry Chapin.
His high school years were filled with athletics and work - not musicianship, so it wasn't until college that he picked up the guitar again. "I'd sit in the dorm's bathroom and play," he says with a laugh. "The acoustics were amazing!" Long lines would form just to hear him play, and once his girlfriend convinced him to step out onto a "real" stage, life as he knew it was over. "I was so hooked," Mark says. "My shyness just evaporated. I loved it." Glasmire finished college with a degree in Business Administration - about as far from music as he could get. But he'd already learned one of the hardest lessons in show biz:
It doesn't pay much until you reach the "big leagues." Mark wanted to have a chance at music, and he knew he'd have to support himself until his "break" came along. No big deal to this son of a blue-collar working man.
During the 80s, Mark commuted back and forth from Bethlehem to New York City, landing gigs at such prestigious venues as Folk City, The Speakeasy and The Bottom Line. It was during this hyper-creative period that he self-produced and recorded his first CD, SAD SONGS. Glasmire worked construction by day, but at night he chased the dream - sharing the stage with many well-known acts, such as Tom Paxton, Arlo Guthrie, Tracy Chapman, Suzan Vega and Gordon Lightfoot. He also recorded an EP, THE SUN, THE MOON and THE SEASONS, with three friends, and recalls those years as "eye-opening times."
His experiences in New York helped hone his writing and performing skills, and by 1995, Mark was ready for a move to Nashville. "It's a great town," Glasmire states. "But it's hard to break through." Glasmire recorded his second CD shortly after moving to Music City, a solo outing called ALL OF MY HEART. The disc was well-received, garnering airplay in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, but a major deal remained just out of reach. He got close, however, landing an audition for Asylum Records. "I'd formed a trio called Borderline by that time," Mark recalls. "Basically, they loved us - right up until they didn't. We were 'too old' and missing a 'marketable image.' It was a setback emotionally when they didn't offer us a deal." Ah -- but LIFE GOES ON.
So, with his confidence shaken "just a bit," Mark took a job as Construction Manager for a large, company that required him to travel constantly. "I made it clear to them that music was still my first love, and I spent a lot of time commuting between Nashville and Dallas." He performed at various Nashville writers' nights, including The Bluebird Cafe, Exit-In, Wildhorse Saloon and 3rd & Lindsley as his "day job" allowed. But the strain of work and travel took a toll on his marriage, and Mark and his wife eventually divorced. Nashville radio stations were just beginning to play his songs, but he was on the move, headed to a new home in Dallas - and leaving his heart in Music City.
Glasmire might have left Nashville - but he didn't leave the music behind. He recorded his third CD, SCRAPBOOK, in 2006, and began entering - and winning songwriting competitions. His awards include First Place Honors in: B. W. Stevenson Memorial Songwriting Competition - Dallas, TX, Dallas Songwriters Association Intíl Songwriting Competition - Dallas, TX and GINA/LAWIM Songwriting Competition - Los Angeles, CA.
A mutual friend introduced Glasmire to John Albani (Steve Azar, Monty Holmes, Randy Boudreaux) and suddenly things just "clicked." "It was magical. He's amazing to work with, and is so talented," Mark says of his co-producer on LIFE GOES ON. "John has a way of pulling out the best in me." Their collaboration is already bringing Glasmire accolades, and he's recently shared the stage with Guy Clark and Dierks Bentley. "I know this is my best project to date," says Mark. "And I really believe that this is my moment. I hope my fans agree."
Glasmire may have taken the road less traveled to reach this point in his career, and there have been more than a few obstacles in his path, but LIFE GOES ON. (7/15/09)