Mark’s acoustic roots run deep. As a teenager, Mark immersed himself in the vibrant bluegrass and folk music scene in Washington, D.C. One of his earliest guitar teachers and mentors was Phil Rosenthal, from the famed bluegrass band, The Seldom Scene. A debut album (Common Ground 1988) and a last minute opening act for Tom Paxton lit the fire of the young writer, leading him to Nashville and a publishing deal with Cherry Lane Music.
Mark has gone on to staff writing positions with major publishing companies including, Bluewater Music Group, Maypop Music Group (owned by the super-group Alabama) as well as Sony Music Publishing. Mark’s songs have been recorded by independent and major artists, receiving airplay on radio and TV in the United States and abroad. His songs have hit the Billboard Top Forty charts, highlighted by the hit single by Neal McCoy, “Every Man for Himself.” Billboard Magazine called it “a song with rare lyrical and musical edge and the best cut on the album”.
Buoyed by wins in singer-songwriter contests at major festivals across the country, Mark began to build a reputation for standout live performances. However, it was winning the Kerrville New Folk Award in 1993 that really put Mark on the map and on the road. As one-half of the duo Culley & Elliott, Mark toured extensively in support of their acclaimed CD, “Flight of Dreams” (1993).
The year 2000 brought Mark back to a solo career and a successful new CD. “My Great Escape,” featuring a duet with Tom Paxton (Stars in Their Eyes), was an Americana Chart’s top 70 CD. It was played on commercial and public radio programs across the United States and abroad. It generated a #2 song (She Rode Horses) on the independent country chart, “Inside Country”. Sing-Out Magazine called it a “superb album” and Music Row Magazine said “almost too good” and "….he’s a killer to hear live.”
With experience and perspective that only time and miles can bring, Mark’s 2004 release, “American Road,” captures the characters, towns and stories from his well-traveled past. “American Road” attracted vocal collaborations from luminaries Don Henry (Grammy Award-wining songwriter) and Jonell Mosser (renowned vocalist who has sung with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King and Ringo Starr).
Now in 2006, Mark's road has led back to his Folk and Bluegrass beginnings. The new CD, “Pickin' Blackberries”, shares 12 new songs with some of the most respected names in acoustic music. Mark's guitar and voice, coupled with the likes of IBMA winner Jim Hurst, National finger-picking champion/John Denver guitarist Pete Huttlinger and Americana divas The McCrary Sisters, make for a strong and genuine delivery of his captivating stories!
*Mark continues to be proud to use Elixir Strings