Mark Karan

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Mark Karan brings a lifetime of experience on Walk Through The Fire

:: Mark Karan and Jeremiah Puddleduck ::
:: Cervante’s Masterpiece Ballroom ::
:: August 14 & 15 ::

By Joe Kovack

It is rare that an individual knows the direction they want their life to follow at a young age and even rarer that one stays the course, no matter how long it takes. Mark Karan is one of those individuals.

Now at 54 and with his debut solo album Walk Through the Fire just released in June, Karan can check another spot off of his musical to-do list. Karan has been in the business for quite some time, but it was his love of music and his ever growing array of musical collaborations that culminated into fulfilling this goal.

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, Karan was exposed to music at a young age. With parents who listened to jazz and artists such as Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, and Miles Davis, Karan knew early on that music was something special. But like all kids, he began to deviate from the musical habits of his parents to find his own brand of sound that reflected his interests and lifestyle. Lucky for him the Haight-Ashbury scene began to emerge as he was in middle school, an impressionable time when one begins to experiment with and define their musical tastes.

In a recent interview with The Marquee, Karan talked about his experiences with the music scene in the Bay Area and how it affected his adolescence. “I was a kid when the whole Haight-Ashbury thing happened and I was lucky enough to be in the Bay Area, so myself and all my junior high school friends were going to see the Grateful Dead in Golden Gate Park, and Quicksilver and Jefferson Airplane and all those kinds of bands were playing Sunday afternoon shows at the Fillmore that they used to have for people under 12, so we were cutting our teeth pretty young with some great seminal music, and it just became pretty obvious to me early on what I wanted to do with my life,” Karan said.

After years of practicing and honing his guitar chops, Karan’s familiar yet unique guitar style has placed him in a few bands formed by some of his boyhood inspirations. In 1998, Karan was chosen to play guitar in The Other Ones, a band created by former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart that followed in the footsteps of the Grateful Dead. Also in 1998 Karan joined Bob Weir & Ratdog, where he has played guitar for the last 11 years while also touring with his own band of transient musicians, Jeremiah Puddleduck.

Karan’s style is a culmination of a life of varied musical influences. “Being around the Grateful Dead family and the music of that scene has been enormously influential musically. I started out there as a kid but around the mid-Seventies I kind of lost track of them and I started to develop a lot of other musical interests, and I hadn’t really thought much of the Dead except as an old favorite.” Karan said. “But when I was contacted by them [The Other Ones, Ratdog] in 1998 I had spent a lot of time playing more mainstream music, although I had always been attracted to singer/songwriter kind of DIY indie-rock stuff. I was living in L.A. and playing and singing on records and making a living in the more commercial fields, so playing with the Dead scene reconnected me to a much freer approach to music and reconnected me to improvisation and jamming and the greater exploration of music.” he said.

Karan’s debut solo album Walk Through the Fire is the result of four years, multiple musicians and numerous recording studios; an album that has developed in his mind his whole career. After surviving throat cancer in 2007, Karan’s perspective on life fueled his desire to fulfill his goal of creating a work all his own. “After surviving cancer I walked away with the sense that, why wait, I don’t know what cards I’m going to be dealt, no one does, and if you wait around you may never have what you want, you may never do what you set out to do. For me, it became about moving forward, I wanted to finish these tracks and have a completed work at least once in my life.” Karan said.

Karan’s soulful singing and intricate guitar playing prove that he is a man that has been around and seen many things in life. With raspy voice he sings heartfelt melodies that bring his style of Americana/blues-rock jam to life. With all proceeds of the title track going to the Oral Cancer Foundation, Karan showed too that it was not just about making his first record, but giving back to people who helped him achieve his goals and remembering the lessons that life has taught him, especially about music.

:: Mark Karan and Jeremiah Puddleduck ::
:: Cervante’s Masterpiece Ballroom ::
:: August 14 & 15 ::

Recommended if you Like:
• Ratdog
• John Hiatt
• JJ Grey and Mofro

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