2015 Legend Member
Mark Van Allen grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan and has been a mainstay on the Atlanta, Georgia scene since 1989. He took piano lessons as a child, and played trumpet and French horn in junior high school. But he says he never really made a personal connection with music until he started playing blues and ragtime guitar around 1974. Mark had heard and liked pedal steel, but when he heard Buddy Emmons' version of "Wichita Lineman" on the Suite Steel LP, it was all over! He bought a Sho-Bud Maverick and joined his first band that same day. The band had a gig the next weekend, so it was a case of "learn to play or get fired"! He certainly had an incentive to practice. Forty years and many bands later, Mark says “I'm still in love with the steel guitar.”
Mark attended Jeff Newman’s first advanced/teachers’ class in Nashville in 1976.
He has played in 48 states and 28 countries, many of those on entertainment tours for the Department of Defense. Along the way, he added guitar, Dobro, lap steel, mandolin, bass, and music production and engineering to his musical tool bag.
Probably Mark’s most unique
contribution is his taking of the steel guitar into so many non-traditional
settings. This includes work with Blueground Undergrass, The Indigo Girls,
Buddy Miles Government Mule, Leftover Salmon, Bruce Hampton, and Percy
Sledge. Other bands and artists Mark has recorded and worked with include
John Berry, Sugarland, Vassar Clements, Shawn Mullins, Jimmy Herring,
Jan Smith, Hank Thompson, Melba Montgomery, Mark Wills, Travis Tritt,
John Cowan, Zac Brown, Lee Roy Parnell, Jim Lauderdale, Nat Stuckey, Guy
Clark, and Peter Rowan.
These days Mark splits his time between live gigs with the Saint Francis Band from Athens, GA, session work in his own Music Farm Studios and around the area, teaching, and producing music instruction CDs.
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