Twilight lures listeners to Carmel Valley with high-cred folk.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
It seems there are more singer-songwriters running around California than there are pigeons in San Francisco. But few enjoy a resume and a range of abilities like Mark Lemaire, who got his start in S.F.
His music-engineering career includes studio time with Jimmy Miller, producer of the Rolling Stones and Blind Faith, and radio stars like Johnny Thunder and Scruffy the Cat. He’s produced albums for the Cars and standout jazz saxophonist Vincent Herring, and arranged for Euphoria Recording Studios (stomping grounds for David Mann and Tim Lefebvre).
On his own guitar, his pick work is impressive, though it would be an injustice to count his lyricism second. Classically trained and widely influenced, he borrows from a range of inspiration to create his own sound. The result is an Americana-folk hybrid with hints of classical, layered with lyrics like, “a chance to spin fortune’s wheel/ another drink from the spring/ and maybe a gem/ or the line of her life/ a diamond on a string.”
Carol Denney, a songwriter and political activist based in Berkeley, is one of his fans. “Mark is doing something on guitar that nobody can do,” she says.
Lemaire began playing live music in his early teens before moving to the Bay Area in the mid ’80s, and scored opening gigs for Maria Muldaur and folk music figurehead Stephan Grossman before tendonitis interceded. Still, between recording string quartets and metal bands, Lemaire cut a CD of his own, Rubato: Pieces for Guitar. Like one-time band member and longtime promoter Don Villa says, “His work is charismatic and expressive – never a dull tempo in there.”
His latest CD, Practice Makes Perfect, features songs about life’s trials and errors, relationships and romantic conquests, and down-to-earth lyrics. Lemaire performs with partner Cindy van Empel, formerly of Madrigals. Though she’s a vocalist trained in classical singing, she has sung in bands that covered everything from REO Speedwagon to Led Zeppelin.
After two years touring the U.S. and Europe, Lemaire and Empel are in sync.
“Their harmonies just flow together so well,” says Kiki Wow, the promoter bringing them to Carmel Valley. “It’s like listening to a person with two voices.”
MARK LEMAIRE and TWILIGHT play 7pm Saturday, Jan. 29, at Plaza Linda, 9 Del Fino Place, Carmel Valley. $10 suggested donation. 659-4229.