Mark Joseph interview
Mark Joseph has a new album out Palisade Peach. Steeped in the blues, this album also features guest performances by Melvin Seals (Jerry Garcia’s organist for quite some time) , Toby Lee Marshall and bassist Jerry Jemmott, and covers of a couple of Robert Johnson classics along with Joseph’s original songs. The album is really a delight -dance, cry, meditate in deep thought and then dance again. We had a chance to speak with him about the project.
Americana Highways: How did you decide to name your new album Palisade Peach?
Mark Joseph: Palisade Peach is named in part after a very inspiring trip to Palisade, Colorado – a high desert mountain town with some of the nicest folks you could ever hope to meet. Farmers, brewers, adventure seekers, bluegrass pickers and friendly smiling faces. Oh, and some of the most incredible peaches (and people) in the world. A few years back I was on tour and we had just headlined the 42nd Annual Telluride Mushroom Festival. We caught word about the Palisade Peach Festival that was to be in full swing that very weekend from a longtime promoter and friend of ours, Lance Grund. We performed Wed and Friday at the mushroom fest, so we confirmed a date for that Sat night at the Peach Festival not really knowing anything about it.
We rolled into town and found our venue “The Palisade Livery Saloon,” which was sort of like a honkey tonk “Cheers” style bar with wide variety of characters from young party people to senior mountain man clientele. My crew and I were warmly embraced as we set up for the show and we were told that “Bud” would be down shortly to chat with us. It turns out Bud Frisinger was a member of the humble and seminal bluegrass group The Still House String Band, as well as a major mover and shaker in the local music scene (4th Street Music is the name of their hometown production team). Turns out he had invited every one of the superb pickers in his group and numerous headliners of the festival to come jam and collaborate! It turned into a blow out party and a sold out room. One hell of a way to roll into a town you’ve never been to before! I’ve returned to perform at their “Palisade Bluegrass Bash ” twice and just did an early release celebration of the new album (named after them and their lovely peaches) this past weekend. It only felt right to bring it to them first.
AH: Did any of the songs on the album come to you almost completely out of the blue?
MJ: As a matter of fact I forgot to mention after that last question, the chorus of the song “Palisade Peach ” came to me during my first trip & show in Palisade!
The song was finished earlier this year as I was putting together this new album, but that chorus “Loving you is a treat, you’re my Palisade Peach” was written down in my notes during that event. Did it come out of the blue? Maybe kind of sort of? Maybe it was the Palisades, I”ll let you decide. Lots of the music was very much created in the moment and in the studio for this record. We were working with some heavy weight musicians and creative minds, Steve McCormick (producer) and I welcomed it. Cats like that have so many years on the road and on countless albums. Songs like “Whole World’s Got The Blues” have major contributions from Hammond organ master Toby Lee Marshall (Koch Marshall Trio) who is on 7 or the 9 tracks on the album. The legendary and inspiring bass man Jerry Jemmott brought some phenomenal ideas to life in “Venice Grind” and “Sad Mississippi Blues.” I mean he’s the bass player on “Aretha Now,” and here I am in the studio working out arrangements with him. One of the many true blessings in making this record. Happy to say Jerry will be joining me on stage Nov 10th for our Los Angeles show at The Mint.
AH: When songs don’t come to you out of the blue, what’s your songwriting process like?
MJ: There are really a lot of different pathways and approaches that can work.
It’s really about who you’re working with, and the state of the ideas you’re bringing to the table. Sometimes the history you have with a co-writer can have an effect on it and sometimes you just know where you are going and need support from the engineers and musicians to get there.
I also try to capture ideas in raw form no matter where I am and I’m happy to return to them later to develop.
But everyone’s process is different. For this record Steve McCormick did a lot of co-writing with me. When you have a team approach going, there’s a lot of trust and back and forth that goes on. You have to stay open minded, willing to try things multiple different ways, phrases, rewrites, adding bridges or intros where you had no intention of doing so. Sometimes you go through all that just to go back to what you had in the first place. Staying open and positive is key, but then also being brave and chasing ideas you feel strong about and that resonate with your spirit. That is where the best stuff is.
AH: What did you learn about yourself when writing and recording the album?
MJ: That I’m becoming more of a songwriter than anything I’ve done in music. I actually have another album that was finished in the fall of 2022 however the time was not quite right to put it out. So now I’ve got 2 completely finished and different albums, sitting in my archive. That’s a first. Of course one of them is about to come out, but it’s an interesting situation I find myself in. I’ve also learned a new level of patience in this album’s creation. I move pretty quickly in the studio and like to keep the progress moving over all.
However when working on a project of this size, with this many talented people involved you have to allow the process to unfold somewhat naturally.
It’s been well worth the wait. I truly believe it’s some of my best work and it has been brought to life by an incredible team that really believes in what I’m doing. No compromises were made when it came down to it. Every part of the album was crafted and allowed to develop as it was intended. Very blessed to have this kind of support around me. Finding new levels of patience allowed me to experience this and also ultimately enjoy the process and end result.
AH: If someone only had ten minutes, which 3 songs on the album should they listen to first & why?
MJ: This is tough. I like to make records with movement and dynamics. Side A, Side B. Songs that go to different places and have different moods.
Feeling mellow, down tempo and reflective: go with “Sad Mississippi Blues,” “Come On In My Kitchen,” with maybe a “Deep Ellum.”
Feeling like driving: headed to a meeting, happy hour or work out, perhaps “Whole World’s Got The Blues,” “Venice Grind,” “Palisade Peach.”
Also, when you hit your 9 minute mark, set a reminder to go back and listen to the whole album front to back later when you have more time!
AH: Which song is the most fun on the album?
MJ: Either “Palisade Peach” or “Venice Grind,” both are designed to help you dance and move your body around the room!
Stanley Behrens shines bright on “Venice Grind” and you can almost feel yourself grooving down the beach, his sax work on this is super fun!
AH: What would you like fans to take away after listening to your music?
MJ: Hope for the future and some positive energy in their day. Inspiration to keep going and enjoy life’s ride. Good days and less then good days.
I’ve lost a lot of people in my life who thought there was no hope. I know part of my purpose in this life is to bring light and help people feel good and worthy of all the gifts from God and the universe. Even when they don’t think they are.
AH: When you were a kid, who inspired you to make music?
MJ: My Grandpa Marv used to play the piano a lot when I was young. My Uncle Peter would play the guitar, everyone would sing together around the piano.
Those are some of my dearest memories. We grew up showing horses and the many many hours in the truck, going to horse shows and caring for the horses left me with a deep love of classic country music. Life changed forever when I saw BB King at 10 years old. My path was set then and there. Blues have always been the North star in my roots of my guitar playing and singing.
AH: What is next for Mark Joseph? Any big plans?
MJ: Right now I’m focused on a couple of our big album release events, Nov 10th Los Angeles,CA, Nov 17 La Crosse, WI, and Nov 18th @ The Fitzgerald Theater, St Paul, MN home town show. Lots of energy is going into those shows. Beyond that, I”m excited to bring the album to the World. I’ve got pending dates in 2024 all over the US, Costa Rica, Mexico, Virgin Islands. Beyond that, I would like to tour Europe, Canada and return to Asia. I performed in Thailand this past January and we have a lot of new friends who are waiting for us to come back! Raising my beloved children, getting married and continuing my spiritual and personal health and all priority moving forward as well!
Thanks for chatting with us, Mark Joseph!
You can find more detailed information on his new release and more on his website, here: https://www.markjoseph-music.com