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MUSIC: Interview with Mark Mulcahy

Saturday, March 15, 2014


You might know him from his days with New Haven, CT-based rock act Miracle Legion or from when he lead the house band for the Nickelodeon classic TV show The Adventures Of Pete & Pete as a member of Polaris, but Mark Mulcahy will be joining Providence alt-country act The ‘Mericans for what should be one hell of a show at The Columbus Theatre tonight. Mulcahy has had quite the renaissance year in 2013 through gaining widespread acclaim from playing the festival circuit over last summer and putting out a new masterpiece with Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You. I managed to have a chat with the New England music legend about what has been going on with him recently and here’s how it went.

Rob Duguay: Tonight you’ll be performing at The Columbus Theatre in Providence, which is very fitting since both you and the theatre have both been experiencing an artistic revival as of late. So what excites you the most about playing this show and why?

Mark Mulcahy: I’ve spent a lot of time in Providence since my experience from being part of Miracle Legion and our drummer and bass player ended up being from there. I consider Providence to be somewhat of a hometown to me and I’ve always liked going there, playing here, sleeping there, eating there and drinking there. I don’t know much about The Columbus but I know where it is from driving past it, I know that it was an old vaudeville theatre and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

R.D.: It should absolutely be an awesome show. Speaking of Miracle Legion, you started out with them in New Haven and you have a long relationship with Providence as well as living in Springfield, MA. You’ve always been a New England based musician, so what keeps you staying in the area? A lot of other musicians that start out in New England eventually move to California, Nashville or somewhere else but you’ve always stuck around here.

M.M.: Well, to be brutally honest I wouldn’t mind living somewhere else but I seem to know a lot of people here and I know a lot of great musicians to play with. I have a lot of good relationships here that I value so I don’t have any real reason to move anywhere and I’m not leaving anytime soon.

R.D.: I got to see you play with one of those great musicians at the Solid Sound Festival at the Massachusetts Museum Of Contemporary Art last year in North Adams, MA when J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. joined you and your band on stage. It was something that I wasn’t expecting and I’m sure everyone else that was there were surprised by it as well. So how did that come together with you and J getting together to perform at the festival?

M.M.: I’ve known J for a while and he lives around Northampton, MA which is the music scene I usually associate myself with. I would say that he is typically up for playing, when there’s a chance to play he usually jumps up and takes it so I gave him a call to see if he was going to Solid Sound and he wanted to go so it all just worked out with him driving up. We’ve played together here and there, I’m pretty sure he played on my last album. He’s a really good musician, I love hanging out with him and I love playing with him. That was a pretty big band for me at the festival and I had a lot of different people involved that day.

R.D.: Last year you put out one hell of a record in Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You. It’s my favorite album of 2013, I love how it’s a display of Lou Reed-esque bravado along with it being a fusion of 90’s alternative rock and The Velvet Underground. It’s also refreshing that you stayed true to that laid back style that’s always been a part of your music. It was your first album in 8 years so what was the process like with making Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You? Was it lot different than what you’ve done with previous projects or was it very methodical?

M.M.: I did something that I’ve always wanted to do which was recording one song a day instead of the usual recording process of recording a lot of stuff and then adding a lot of stuff to it all then finally you’re done with it as a whole. Myself and all of the other guys in the band would go into the studio and play the song we were going to record that day, then record it until it was done. At the end of the day the track was finished and the next time we went in for another day it was the same thing. So actually it only took 11 days to record 11 songs. I’ve never done that before, I’ve always wanted to do that and it turned out to be a very good approach.

R.D.: I can definitely see how it paid off, it’s a lovely album Mark and I probably listen to it at least once a week. People best know you as the frontman for another band you were involved in with Polaris, which was the house band for the Nickelodeon TV show The Adventures Of Pete & Pete. One thing I’ve always wanted to know about the band is how did you guys start with getting such a unique gig of being the house band for a TV?

M.M.: The guy who wrote & invented the show was a big fan of Miracle Legion, so he called me and asked if Miracle Legion would want to do the music for the show. At the time we were in a weird flux of being signed to a record label that wasn’t working out. We weren’t as organized as we had been, so one of the guys didn’t want to do it so I asked if I could do it myself and he said “Yes”. It was very last minute to invent the name of a band. There wasn’t really an idea to have a band at all, it just had the music. I think we just thought that we made up this band and then before we knew it we were part of the opening of the show each week. That show was very loose in terms of how some parts of it came together, they were just creating everything as I was writing the songs. I don’t think it was all about them finding a band to bring fans to the show, which kind of came at the after part of it. It turned out to be a very long-term thing that took a lot of time.

R.D.: It’s a pretty interesting gig for a band to become part of a TV show of all things and it must have been a whole lot of fun. Well, you had a hell of a year in 2013 with the new album, playing a bunch of big shows and being a part of some big festivals so what do you have planned for the rest of 2014?

M.M.: As of right now I’m gonna play a string of gigs that I have here, England and in Ireland along with maybe going to Norway. In the meantime I think I’m going to make another record and hopefully play more gigs to get back into recording.

Mark is an interesting guy to talk to and he’ll be performing live tonight at The Columbus Theatre nestled in the heart of Providence’s west end on 270 Broadway. As someone who has head the pleasure of seeing Mark live, this is definitely a show you don’t want to miss. Until next time, take care and hopefully I’ll see you there.  


Related Slideshow: 13 Biggest Music Stories in RI in 2013

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13. Macauley + Carlton

Local music legend John Macauley of Deer Tick, and world renowned singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton came to Providence in January to headline a show to benefit The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence.

Here is music critic Rob Duguay's review of the show:

This past Saturday at the upstairs stage of The Columbus Theatre on Broadway in the heart of the West End of Providence, a magnificent display of music took place to benefit The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence. Deer Tick's John McCauley & Ian O'Neil, Vanessa Carlton, Smoota and Caroline Hecht were on a star-studded bill for an experience that was guaranteed to be a memorable one. It's always great when talented people come together for a worthy cause, and in this day and age this was needed more than ever. Read More

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12. Carolina Choc Drops

Bringing an eclectic mixture of Piedmont blues, country, ragtime jazz, and traditional folk, the Carolina Chocolate Drops came into town to headline a Sunday night show at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel in April.

GoLocal Music Critic was there for the show, and he claimed this to be one of the best shows he attended in 2013:

Class was in session Sunday night at Lupo’s as theCarolina Chocolate Drops provided a crash course in traditional African American music. Their style, which fuses Piedmont Blues, jug band country, ragtime jazz and traditional folk, delighted the crowd. Sounding straight out of a juke joint in Mississippi, (or North Carolina, where the band hails from), their music is infectious. Read More

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11. Artistic Explosion

Featuring some of the best local acts from all different genres, GoLocal music critic Rob Duguay organized the first annual Artistic Explosion Music Festival, a week-long multi-venue show to raise money for Girls Rock! and the Rhode Island Music Educators Association. 

By all counts, the event was a tremendous success.

Read more about the event here

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10. 24 Hour Music Project

For the second straight year, Kim "Giggles" Madden put together Providence's 24 Hour Music Project benefit. This year, all proceeds from the event and concert went to benefit music education in Rhode Island's public schools.

Rob Duguay was on hand for the CD release party in October:

One of the most inspiring things I've encountered in Providence is the 24 Hour Music Project. Started by Kim "Giggles" Madden last year, a star-studded compilation album of the Creative Capital's finest musicians benefits victims of domestic violence. This time around, another album was made to benefit music education in public schools, another noble cause with an ensemble cast of local musical talents. On Sunday at The Spot, the release of the second 24 Hour Music Project album was celebrated with an amazing show that had Dan Dodd, Dylan Sevey & The Gentlemen, Wake and Baker, P. Lowe, Galactic Alliance and Resin ED jammin' on two stages. There's no better way to spend your Sunday than supporting a great cause, and the Spot was the prime destination to do just that. Read More

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9. Colexico at The Met

Tuscon Arizona's Colexico, according to GoLocal music critic Ken Abrams, sounds like "a Tex-Mex meal - you don’t always know exactly what’s in it, but it tastes delicious."

Well, Colexico paid a visit to the Ocean State in June, and Abrams was in the crowd for the festivities. 

Read Ken Abrams' Review Here

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8. Buddy Guy

Since Park Theatre massive renovation and reopening, the Cranston venue has become a great spot for live music in Rhode Island, and have drawn some very impressive names. 

In October, blues legend Buddy Guy stopped by, and music critic Ken Abrams was there: 

Last Friday night at the Park Theatre, the nation’s leading ambassador of the Blues made a triumphant stop in Rhode Island. For the second consecutive year, Buddy Guy filled the Park to its 1006-seat capacity, a rare feat for a performer labeled a “Blues” artist. Before the night ended, it was clear why – he is one of the finest performers on tour today. Read More

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7. The Temptaions

Legendary Detroit Motown band, the Temptations stopped by Cranston's Park Theatre in December, bringing with them their classics. 

Music critic Ken Abrams was front and center for this once-in-a-lifetime R&B experience:

A warm welcome greeted The Temptations Sunday night in Cranston as the Park Theatre hosted a sold out show by the legendary Detroit band. The award winning R&B group thrilled those in attendance with classic hits along with some new songs. Read More

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6. Chris Cornell

Legendary Seattle grunge rocker Chris Cornell is known for rocking hard with Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, and Pearl Jam; but when he came into Providence in November, he left the wires behind for an acoustic show on the newly-renovated stage at The Vets:

Normally, one would think of Chris Cornell as the vocalist who can peel the paint off walls with Seattle legends Soundgarden, but recently he's been doing a solo acoustic tour that's been getting a lot of attention. This past Tuesday he made a stop at The Veterans Memorial Auditorium for an experience that exuded soothing songs that hit straight to the heart. Bhi Bhiman opened things up as well, it was going to a memorable evening. Chris Cornell at his genuine best, what more could you ask for? Read More

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5. B.B. King

What could be better than a warm summer night in Newport?  How about when you are there to see THE name in Blues, BB King? Well, GoLocal Music criticRob Duguay was lucky enough to be in attendance for this show at the Newport Yachting Center in July:

As a live music fanatic, when I hear that a legend is coming through The Ocean State it's a no-brainer that I have to come check it out. When it's a bluesman like B.B. King performing, saying its a no-brainer is a vast understatement, it's more like a spiritual expedition. The King Of The Blues headlined a fantastic night at The Newport Yachting Center as part of The Sunset Music Series with Providence rocksteady soul group Boo City opening up the show, you knew it was going to be one of the top shows of the summer. The whole time I was here I had to remind myself that one of my favorite musicians of all time in B.B. King as well as pinch myself a few times. The guy is pushing 90 and still tours like he was in his mid-20s and still can strum Lucille better than anybody else, Newport was definitely the hotspot for a once in a lifetime chance to see a musician who will go down as one of the greatest ever. Read More

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4. Bob Dylan at URI

Legendary singer-songwriter, Bob Dylan passed through the Ocean State in April, making a stop at URI's Ryan Center.  GoLocal music critic Ken Abrams made the trek down to South County for the show: 

Bob Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour” rolled into the Ryan Center on Monday night. The band is currently on a college campus swing, and featured a new addition, RI’s own Duke Robillard on lead guitar. Read More

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3. Sir Elton John

A Dunkin Donuts Center crowed was graced by the presence of music royalty in November when Elton John came into Providence for an unforgettable 28-song performance:

Elton John made a triumphant return to Providence Saturday night, making the Dunkin Donuts Center the second stop on his Diving Board Tour. Expectations were high for the near capacity crowd and Sir Elton did not disappoint. He covered a number of hits in his 28 song set, including a full album side from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” Read More

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2. The Who

Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend; the remaining members of one of the most highly-celebrated rock and roll supergroup of all-time, the Who, finished up the US leg of their World Tour at the Dunkin Donuts Center in February:

On Tuesday at The Dunkin' Donuts Center in downtown Providence, rock & roll legends The Who rocked the joint for the last show of the United States leg of The Quadrophenia and More Tour that has been sweeping the globe since last year. Opening the night were Los Angeles' rock & roll souls Vintage Trouble and it was bound to be one of the memorable shows in Providence's music history. There are rock bands and then there's The Who, it was very clear that the best way to enjoy the first half of your week was to be at The Dunk on Tuesday. Read More

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1. Newport Festivals

Summer in Newport -- shopping, beaches, sailing, dining, and LIVE MUSIC. Aquidneck Island comes alive when the weather warms up, and once you get beyond Thames Street, music festivals dominate the scene.  In 2013, GoLocal' music critics were on hand for three great music festivals in Newport:

Sunset Music Series- Featuring Chris Isaak and The Doobie Brothers

Celtic Rock Festival- Headlined by the Dropkick Murphy's 

Newport Folk Festival- Featuring Beck, John Macauley, and the Avett Brothers


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