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Monday, November 10, 2014

Mark T. Small Wins "Acoustic Blues Album of the Year" Award at 2014 Blues Blast Magazine Awards Show

Mark T. Small Wins “Acoustic Blues Album of the Year” Award at 2014 Blues Blast Magazine Awards Show

CHAMPAIGN, IL – Blues singer/guitarist Mark T. Small won the “Acoustic Blues Album of the Year” award at the 2014 Blues Blast Magazine Awards Ceremonies, held October 23 at the Fluid Events Center in Champaign, Illinois. Small also performed during the gala held to honor blues music artists and CD releases for the year. "It was an honor to be part of such a fine event and be associated with such a fantastic publication,” said Mark T. Small. “Winning the award was the icing on the cake.”

The Somerset, Massachusetts-based artist garnered the recognition for his January, 2014, release, Smokin’ Blues, on the Lead Foot Music label imprint. The dozen tracks on Smokin’ Blues, Small’s fourth CD,  solidified his place as an emerging master of the guitar, whose styles range from Delta and Chicago blues to the intricate, flatpicking style from his early days in “Newgrass” bands. The 12 songs on the CD reflect music originally performed by such early blues legends as Blind Boy Fuller, Tampa Red, Charley Patton and Reverend Gary Davis to post-war icons John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James and even a Stax/Memphis soul vibe with the inclusion of a Rufus Thomas tune.  

“Smokin' Blues is a sampler of the guitar grooves that make up my solo show,” said Mark T. Small upon the album’s release. “My main objective for this CD was to produce a recording that sounds and feels like I am playing in a small room with the listener. The only effect that was added, other than the ‘radio tone’ on the song, ‘Daddy Was a Jockey,’ was a touch of reverb to further simulate listening in a small room.”

Upon its release, reviews for the CD were over-the-top in their praise. “Smokin’ Blues lives up to its title from start to finish,” wrote Malcolm Kennedy in his review for the Washington Blues Society. “I give it my highest recommendation, simply fabulous!” “He's as good a guitarist as you will hear and if you listen to Smokin’ Blues, you will hear plenty of evidence of that, as Small tears through a dozen of his favorite songs,” said Graham Clarke in Friday Blues Fix. “With vocals as strong as sweet as his fret work, Small has made one memorable and amazingly versatile album right here that guitar fans will love.”

Mark T. Small has been playing music since his early teens, when he began listening to Old Time Music. He learned to play fiddle tunes on the guitar in the styles of Doc Watson and Norman Blake and also learned to play the Dobro. In 1981, this music took Mark to Indiana to play and record with a five-piece “Newgrass Band” called The Brown County Band. At the same time, he was playing harmonica and listening to Junior Wells and Charlie Musselwhite.
After returning to the East Coast, Mark dug deeper into the blues, playing more electric guitar. When he was playing progressive Newgrass, his style had the influence of the blues. Now delving into the blues, his playing has the razors edge and speed that was developed from years of flat-picking. This combination of the lightning fast bluegrass style and soulful blues playing are the key components of Mark’s sound. .
Beginning in the late 1980s, Mark started his own Chicago-style blues band that ranged anywhere from three to ten pieces on a given night and was a staple on the New England club circuit for over a dozen years. Many of the gigs were played as a “power trio” with Mark singing and filling the band out with scorching electric blues guitar. Other times, the band included a keyboard or sax player and/or the addition of the Newport Navy Band Horn Section.
 In 2000, Mark began to gravitate back to his acoustic roots and the studio became his classroom. After making a decision to pursue a solo career, Mark took all of the lessons that he had learned over the last 25 years and constructed an act that was as hard- hitting as the band, but all in a one-man show. As such, he’s opened for Johnny Winter, Robert Cray, James Cotton and others.
Today, his show includes many traditional Delta blues numbers with a Chicago blues slant that transforms each tune into a “tour de force.” Included are the blazing flat-picking techniques that grabbed audiences in Mark’s bluegrass days, the hot slide guitar playing that creates a mood and timbre change in each set and the showmanship that was developed from his years of experience. 
“On Smokin' Blues I tried to match the intensity of playing in a club setting,” Mark said at the time. “In these settings I take the tunes that I love, interpret them and do everything possible to make that connection with the audience.”
To download a photo of Mark at the Blues Blast Awards with his trophy, click here: marktsmallbbaward
For more information, visit
Upcoming Mark T. Small Performances
December 12 / The Amazing Things Arts Center - Framingham, MA
A Night Of Acoustic Blues / Co-Bill with Danielle Miraglia 
January 17 / The Narrows Center For The Arts - Fall River, MA - Winter Blues Fest / On the bill with Young Neal & The Vipers, Mike Zito & The Wheel, Johnny Hoy & The Bluefish
January 24th / The Cotuit Cultural Center - Cotuit, MA - With James Montgomery & Bruce Marshal 
In residence every Thursday at The New World Tavern, Plymouth, MA (7:00-10:00 PM)

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