“Post-adulthood” is the place that jazz guitarist Mark Guest now hangs his hat. “Don’t get me wrong, raising my kids was huge for me, but now that they’re grown and gone, well… life goes on!” says Guest.
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Mark was actively gigging in the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans region. After Katrina, Mark’s music career began taking center stage in his life. “Before the storm, I had a day job in public finance, enough jazz gigs every week to keep me happy, a nice home near the beach, I lived in an interesting arts-oriented community, and had New Orleans nearby. When Katrina wiped us out, all that changed”, says Guest. Mark’s home, most of his guitar collection, and much of his community were destroyed by the hurricane. “After the storm, I had invitations to play in venues literally around the world. My wife and I planned to take a portion of our homeowners insurance money and follow the gigs around the world for a year, or two.” They didn’t count on an insurer that did not want to honor their claims until two years after the loss. Now Mark’s performances are booked on the quality of the music, not what he calls the “Katrina Factor”.
Mark has been a popular addition at jazz festivals and in venues from the Gulf Coast to the Eastern Shore of New Jersey. Now residing in Asheville, North Carolina, he happily travels to performance venues promoting his 2008 CD, (Why We’re) Happy Together. “We decided that Katrina gave us an opportunity to change our lives for the better, and that’s what I’m doing. Playing this music for appreciative audiences is such a fulfilling element of my life that, in some ways, I’m grateful for the alterations that Katrina brought” claims Mark.
Raised in Toronto, Canada, Mark was a fan of jazz early on. He remembers, "During the early 1970's I became a teenaged 'jazz snob' and regularly hung out listening to jazz players like Lenny Breau, Ed Bickert, Sonny Greenwich, Don Thompson and Terry Clark. I also was exposed to the avant-garde/free jazz scene that was happening at the time. It was a real eye-opening experience to play with guys like Al Greg, who was pretty far out there in the free jazz world." While largely self-taught, Mark has studied with noted musical luminaries such as Toronto guitarists Lenny Breau, Lorne Lofsky, and New Orleans guitarists Phil DeGruy, and Hank Mackie.
Mark can be found playing solo, in duo settings in the Mark Guest Jazz Duologues (with various accompanists, including bass, piano, tuba, sax, voice, and flute) and group settings ranging from trios to sextets. While remaining firmly rooted in the jazz tradition, Mark brings unique takes to non-standard repertoire as varied as the 1960s’ Hollies’ Bus Stop to blues icon Elizabeth Cotton’s Freight Train. “Music has been a wonderful part of my life”, says Guest. “I look forward to many more years of great music.” And so should you.
Mark is an endorser for, and happily plays the wonderful Ribbecke Halfling guitar.