I’m telling you, it’s going to be one of those nights down at NEC in Concord this Saturday. I can feel it. No rain, no snow or even fog in the forecast. Perfect weather for kicking around in the new downtown, breaking in the brick.
A night built to drink, get fat, then walk it off.
But of course, the only way to better that diet of fun is to feast on some heady music. Go ahead, gorge yourself. Let recording artist from Boston, Mark Erelli, spoon feed you into his world. He considers a lot of what most of us have forgotten, processes it honestly, and delivers those thoughts in song without fully understanding what the end game really means.
Erelli, 43, plays, sings, writes, and will remind you of the legends — Dylan, Simon, Jackson Browne. And he has this sound, this voice and tone, that works for you, not against you.
We all need that.
“For a Song” is a new set of songs that Erelli has released, and a quick spin through will give you a good idea of what to expect. He plays this Saturday at New England College, doors at 7pm, show at 7:30. It’s on the house.
Soundcheck had a chat with Mr. Erelli and the “obscure folksinger” was great with his responses.
How has your expectations towards your music changed through years?
The initial dreams of stardom that I think most musicians start out with have certainly faded, both with time and with all the changes in the industry in the last 15 years. I probably at one point figured that if I followed the a similar path to my favorite artists or musical heroes, then it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect that a similar level of success would befall me. What I’ve learned is that every artist is unique and travels his or her own road. I’ve come to now expect that the more I make music that reflects my choices and my heart, under the constraints of my life, the better the art is and, paradoxically, the more successful.
How do you work through a period of writers block?
I have always had periods where I wrote a bunch of songs in semi-rapid succession, interspersed with more relatively fallow times. If I was just staring out the window with nothing coming from my pen I’d be alarmed, I guess. But times that are relatively unproductive for songwriting are usually very busy and filled with other tasks, like all the things that go into promoting a record, touring, learning songs for my various sideman gigs, and more. If I ever do have a problem writing songs, it’s usually because I haven’t figured out exactly what I’m trying to say, or that I’ve been so obsessed with business tasks that I haven’t been living a life worth writing about.
Is there a genre of music that you haven’t tackled that you hope to someday?
I have always loved soul music, and I’d love to incorporate some elements associated with that genre into my own stuff someday. I’ve written some songs recently that would lend themselves to that sort of treatment, so maybe I’ll cross that genre off my list at some point!
When did this quest to be heard rear its head in your life?
I don’t know that I have a greater desire to be heard than anyone else. I think everyone, to some degree, wants a witness. People want to know they matter to other people. I think that’s partly what’s behind some of the disruptive trends in recent politics. Don’t get me started. Personally, from the time I started being really moved by music, emotionally, which was probably in high school, I had a desire to share that feeling with others. Before I started writing songs, I would just be constantly trying to turn my friends on to obscure folksingers and musicians. Now that I write songs, I find that I’m the obscure folksinger I’m trying to turn everyone on to.
What artist has had the biggest influence on your life?
It’s really hard to narrow that one down to just a single artist, as I’ve learned different things from different people. I’ll just punt and say Bob Dylan, because he basically invented my job.
What can the audience at NEC expect from you this week?
If someone comes to a show, I guarantee they’ll feel better by the end…but they have to stay til the end! I definitely tread through some darkness on my way to the light, but it always ends in light. Plus, it’s just more life-affirming and joyful to be in a room with other people, celebrating art and community together, than it is to be binge-watching Netflix on your couch. The Netflix will be there next week, I never know the next time I’m coming back to Concord!
You can check Mark Erelli’s music out at markerelli.com
Rob Azevedo can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org