Sunday, February 10, 2019

6 Questions with Mark Fain

Mark Fain is a journeyman bass player who is probably most famous for his association with Ricky Skaggs but has done sessions or tours for everyone in country music, from Loretta Lynn to Dolly Parton, John Fogerty, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Bruce Hornsby, Ry Cooder, the Dixie Chicks, Chris Hillman... Is that enough credentials for you? We hit him up with a few questions and he was kind enough to give it a lot of thought and impart some of his wisdom upon us. Thanks Mark!
Electric Eye: What are your current projects? Any sessions lined up? A tour perhaps?

Mark FainI'm in the studio every week playing on recordings but currently I’m producing a new recording, for Rounder, on Brooke and Darin Aldridge. I’ll be playing more with John Jorgenson this year and doing more shows with Rosanne Cash and Ry CooderI also sub at the Grand Ole Opry in the house band several weekends out of the year.

Electric EyeHow did you get into music? Was there a particular trigger, an artist or a song perhaps? Did you come from a musical family?

Mark Fain:The first music I remember ever hearing, outside of church music, were the Beatles. I’m still not over them. My uncle was a great musician and he really turned me onto everything from Django to the Stanley Brothers. Growing up we would have jam sessions and play songs from Caravan to the most popular song on the radio. If you came to my house today you might hear me listening to Satie or Daft Punk or Ornette Coleman or Flatt and Scruggs.

Electric EyeAs a professional sideman and session player, do you prefer the studio or the road?

Mark FainI like to do both. I've been lucky to have toured and played with great artist like Ricky Skaggs, Ry Cooder, Bruce Hornsby and others. I dont like to be gone all the time but it is great to tour about 50 days or less a year. I feel it makes me a better player to get out and play live. Being in the studio everyday makes me feel like my playing is stale.

Electric EyeWhat was the most challenging session or piece of music for you?

Mark FainGot a record date for a Broadway play. The music wasn’t so hard I couldn’t play it but the problem was, the first score was 8 pages long. I was playing upright bass and it was impossible to turn the pages.

Electric EyeYou are mostly known for your contributions to country or Americana artists, is that the music you mostly listen to at home? Is that actually what you prefer playing or are you a frustrated rap or metal musician?

Mark FainMost people only know me from that world but I've actually played with a lot folks from other forms of music. Most folks are blown away when they find out that I played shows last year with Zakk Wylde. I just love to play. Music is all the same to me. I've never put labels on any form of music. I'm really into Zaz these days. She brings the goods.

Electric EyeWhat is your fondest memory in this business? A particular session, concert, or person you’ve encountered?

Mark FainThere are so many moments for me. Producing a Charlie Haden record is up there at the top. Recording with Chris Hillman, who is my favorite singer, and Tom Petty producing it. Tom was a gift from God to us folks here on earth. Playing Turn, Turn, Turn with Chris and David Crosby. Winning 7 Grammys with Ricky Skaggs is up there too. Playing anytime Ry Cooder!! Ry treats me like I’m family and the best muscian on the earth. There have been two times playing with Ry and Rosanne that were beyond music. We played a Johnny Cash Tribute at SF Jazz and Rosanne sang I Walked the Line. It was an out of body expierence. Same thing happened last November when Ry sang Don't Take Your Guns to Town. My Favorite guitar player and producer John Levanthal is married to Rosanne and is the music director. We couldnt believe we just witnessed that. There are so many others. I've really been blessed.

Check out our review of Ry Cooder's Paris gig last October featuring Mark on bass HERE.

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