Making music with Mark Whitaker…
I can speak from experience that creating and performing music with Mark Whitaker is a special thing. He somehow makes you feel better about your playing by just being so damn good and humble himself. Always encouraging the folks he plays with while also challenging them at the same time to keep up. His songs are not the standard “here is a good old I IV Ver” to play, but they are accessible and fun to add your own flavor to. His additions to your original songs is always tasteful and exciting. And the way that boy takes a second break during a fiddle tune, man oh man, he is second to none on any instrument. Each time I get to make music with Mark is a treat and I find myself just staring at the frets on his banjo as his hands effortlessly glide over them in a calm, cool, and collected fury of notes. But don’t take my word for it…take the words of these folks who get to play with the man on a regular basis…
Eva Walsh (fiddle in Mark Whitaker & Friends, general harmony and fiddle master): Mark is an unassuming genius. His talent is undeniable and he seems to be very casual about his musical abilities, yet, there is so much more than just talent at play here. Behind the natural, casually talented façade, is an incredibly hard-working guy– analyzing, fine-tuning and carefully crafting every phrase & every lick on the banjo. The thought, the effort and the heart that he puts into everything, not just his music, is staggering. He is an artist and a pretty damn wonderful human being, too. I feel incredibly lucky to make music with him & count him as one of my friends. We all do!
Forrest O’Connor (prior mandolinist Mark Whitaker & Friends, mandolin maestro and co-producer extraordinaire): Mark writes some of the most interesting and memorable melodies of any singer-songwriter — whether up-and-coming or established — that I’ve heard. There’s so much thoughtfulness and intelligence in each of his songs, and his vocal delivery is honest and raw in a way that is perfectly suited to his material. His banjo style and tone also very much complement his writing. He is hands-down the best young banjoist singer-songwriter I’ve ever heard.
Gian Pangaro (upright bass Mark Whitaker & Friends, keeper of the rhythm and low end): I’ve had the pleasure of playing music with mark for the past 7+ years. Whether it’s challenging instrumental pieces, or catchy new songs, Mark’s approach has been at the same time precise and laid back. He’s a musician’s musician and a songwriter’s songwriter!
David Delaney (band leader and fiddle in The Whiskey Boys, skilled practitioner of blugrassifying pop songs): Sometimes when I’m feeling discouraged I think ‘Mark Whitaker plays banjo in the whiskey boys’ and then I feel better.
Jordan Santiago (mandolinist in Mark Whitaker & Friends, duo partner and beast on 4 stringed/4 coursed instruments…also plays guitar better than you): I remember seeing Mark for the first time at a Bluegrass jam, leaning over to the guy next to me and saying “That’s the Banjo player I have been looking for. I have to snag him before someone else does!”. He ended up being way more than a musician. Aside from being ridiculously tasteful and groovy, he is one if the most sensible, caring people I know. He can blow you away and make you feel completely comfortable at the same time. I can’t see Mark slowing down anytime soon, which is a good thing for me because I could not imagine making music without him.