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The Rise of Easy Mark

Easy Mark has been popping up all over town in various venues. Whether solo or accompanied by seasoned local musicians, it's a show complete with songs that have meaning, humor, and a heart of rhinestones. I was excited to catch up with Mark and hear more about the rise of Easy Mark!

What is the origin story of Easy Mark?
 I’m slightly hesitant to answer this straight because I’m so deeply committed to the alter ego that I prefer to mythologize him with outlandish tales. But I will. Because I like his true origin story. One of the saddest lyrics I’ve written is to a song called Easy Mark. I play a songwriter game with myself where I create song titles using my name as a noun or a verb. That song is about a trusting heart that is easily taken advantage of by unscrupulous lovers – a lowercase easy mark. After I had been playing it a while some friends started using the phrase to greet me. And one went so far as to have it iced on a birthday cake. When I saw it emblazoned across the cake with lit candles all around it, I had that epiphany moment where Easy Mark archetype coalesced. This over-the-top glitter cowboy. This neon troubadour. Fueled by gin, gallows humor, and heartbreak, this character should have an identity that simultaneously conveys the sorrow and the humor of the music I write. I love him dearly. I have found writing and playing in character to be liberating, as opposed to contrived or inauthentic. It creates a free space to say and do whatever I want and the listener never knows for sure who is actually saying it.

Tell us about the evolution from open mics solo to playing out shows with Sarah Gorak and recently Nate Hickey!
 It was all entirely accidental. I did not really do this before Covid. I was an amateur music historian, with a self-study PhD in Bob Dylan, and a total guitar freak, but essentially a home hobbyist. I knew nothing about the local music scene. Coming out of covid, I was processing a few personal issues and life changes through songwriting. Once I got a handful of songs that felt decent enough the next step was to purge the feelings further by singing them out into the world. I promise you those early days were as solitary and earnest as I describe. I treated the open mics at places like MOTR and The Southgate House Revival as therapy. Having those places to perform weekly, and the encouragement I received, inspired more and more writing. Relentlessly going week after week, watching other great performers, honing the craft, making new friends, and getting feedback on tunes where the ink was barely dry became an addiction for me. I can’t explain how I have been lucky enough to attract the attention of outrageously talented people like Sarah or Nate. It’s all just happened by showing up and doing the thing. In the case of Sarah, me wearing sequin cheetah pants the night we met didn’t hurt. She has been a real catalyst, partner, and champion. And her knack for a strong musical hook might be on par with Keith Richards. Not only is she an inspired and brilliant musical force, but she understands the business side of things. All I know is the writing and the performing aspect, so it has been invaluable to work with someone who knows how to supercharge it, organize it and make it legit.

What has been your favorite experience so far playing out?
 As long as I’m on a stage, big or small, I’m happy. We did a full band show recently at MOTR with Sarah on violin, Alex Desch on bass and Dave Cupp on drums I thought was a very cool and momentous experience. We dubbed them the Hardened Hearts and it was a rock n roll fantasy doing the songs that way. But my very favorite moment of the last two years is a little less obvious. It was on a random Tuesday night, the first time I heard the whole bar join me unprompted on one of my songs. Hearing the ridiculous lyrics to “Love is a Bitch” sung back to me with people banging fists on tabletops gave me goosebumps. It felt very gratifying. Like maybe these little homespun creations have a life of their own.

What would you like your fans to experience while attending an Easy Mark show?
 Hopefully, an original spectacle, equal parts tears and laughter, rooted in the musical genres I love. And temporary rhinestone blindness.

What is next for Easy Mark?! What shows are you excited about, any release dates we should mark on the calendar?
 We are currently recording the debut Easy Mark album with my good friend and local legend Rob McAllister. The man is a true visionary genius with golden ears. I can barely contain my excitement at the magic he is working on these songs. Taking pencil sketches and turning them into full-color oil paintings. I anticipate we’ll have the recording wrapped up by the end of the year. Whether Rob likes it or not, I’ve probably got enough material to keep him busy for the next 10 albums. As for upcoming shows, Sarah and I will be playing duo shows at the Comet on 11/5 and 12/20 and the Taproom on Ludlow with a full band on 12/8. And much more on the books in various combinations into the new year. Easy mark your calendars!


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