Mark Bliesener has, for the last many years, been known as the Band Guru — a sage to groups who might have had the talent but had no idea what to do with it, or how to share it with anyone. Bliesener was the guy that could make sense of all of it because of the way music wound through his life. He was a performer from 1966-1976, a music critic from 1976-1978, a publicist from 1978-1988, including a stint where he handled publicity for the famed promoter Barry Fey, and he was a personal manager of a slew of bands from 1989-2016. He has performed and recorded with bands including Question Mark and the Mysterians and Humpback Whale, and has received 16 Gold and Platinum record awards from artists whose careers he has managed including; Alan Parsons, Lyle Lovett, Big Head Todd and the Monsters and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He even coined the band name Dead Kennedys which was adopted by his friend Jello Biafra.
So, when Bliesener sings “Success is owed as much to chance as that so-called art you do, chamber’s only fully loaded when it revolves around you,” there’s a wisdom behind those words. That lyric is from the song “Continental Divide” off his ‘strictly for pleasure’ lark of an album — his solo debut — Jurassic Mark, that he put out to celebrate his 70th birthday.
In fact, when he started work on the album it was an effort to get away from the business side of music. “Over the past 24 months,” said Bliesener, “as my tolerance for, and patience with the business part of music has waned, I embarked on a non-stop series of recording sessions intended strictly for pleasure. When pressed by friends and colleagues to release an album from these sessions, I adamantly declined, as doing so would take away the fun — requiring marketing, promotion and other aspects of personal management — my previous gig.”
But these non-stop sessions had resulted in 34 songs. Songs, which Bliesener thought would just sit — a process he equates to building model airplanes as a kid. “You’d work on that model kit ’til it looked pretty good, put it on the shelf, forget about it and move on to the next one. That’s all I intended to do with these songs,” explained Bliesener. “Then with the surreal reality of my 70th birthday pulling into view, I decided to relent and compile an album from the finished tracks as a sort of birthday celebration.”
Recorded in Denver at Sparky the Dog and Absinthe Studios nine of the 10 songs on Jurassic Mark are written by Bliesener — all except for Gram Parson’s “Older Guys.” Not surprisingly, Bliesener, who produced the disc and plays most of the instruments, is joined by a bunch of friends on the album, including Gregory Hill (the Babysitters, Manotaur) on bass, sax, piano, organ and lead guitar, and Eddie Turner (Zephyr, Otis Taylor), Bob Ferbrache (Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, the Soul Merchants), and Ernie Martinez (Tom Paxton, John McEuen), who all contribute lead guitar.
For this garage rock opus, Bliesener admits that much of the theme unapologetically revolves around aging. “I feel pretty good about turning 70 in 2019, as musically this personal timeline has put me in several places at the right time; being nine when I bought my first Little Richard record, 14 when The Beatles impacted, 17 during the Summer of Love and an “old” 25 when punk hit,” said Bliesener.