Mark Ross left at home at 17 because of illness (his parents were sick of him). Armed with a loud voice and a guitar, 35 years ago he made his way to Greenwich Village just in time to catch the last of the Great Folk Music Scare of the '60's. Yodeling, singing, cracking bad jokes, making execrable puns, and picking up a storm, he's been making his way at this trade ever since.
Learning to play about a dozen instruments; guitar, banjo, fiddle, harmonica, mandolin, Hawaiian guitar, autoharp, jews' harp, bass, dulcimer, tenor guitar, & 12-string guitar(it really is a different instrument), all with varying degrees of proficiency, he has sung all across the continental U.S. in bar rooms, ball rooms, coffeehouses, union halls, hobo jungles, kitchens & living rooms, bedrooms, grade schools, colleges & universities (guest lecturing on American folk music, railroad songs, labor songs and the History of American Labor and radical politics), folk festivals, concert halls, street corners, railroad stations, and bus depots.
With a working repertoire of close to 500 songs he runs the gamut of American Roots Music, from hobo ballads & train songs, blues, western swing, mountain ballads, fiddle tunes, raucous banjo melodies, early jazz to the works of contemporary songwriters.
Although considered the consummate Tramp by his Brethren of the Road, at times he has turned his hand to such odd jobs (and there are those that say that any job he takes is, by definition, odd) as: logger, farmhand, stagehand, actor, radio & concert producer, short-order cook, substitute teacher in a Catholic High School, director of an after-school program for disadvantaged kids, IWW organizer (3 years in running the IWW office in Missoula, Montana), day laborer, dishwasher, babysitter, and Folksinger-in-Residence at New York Folklore Center.
Resident for the last 23 years in Montana, before making his way to Eugene, Oregon, he has lived in Butte, Montana for the last 12 years. Before that he spent eleven years in Missoula, five of them doing a live Saturday night radio show for Montana Public Radio. From '97 through 2000 he was the Artistic Director and Producer of the Butte FolkFest.
Over the years he has shared stages with Utah Phillips (his sometime recording and songwriting partner [Mark says, "I'm definitely the junior member of the firm."]), David Bromberg, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, John Hammond, Malvina Reynolds, Jerry Jeff Walker, Steve Goodman, Rosalie Sorrels, Faith Petric, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry, Dave Van Ronk, Hoyt Axton, Snuffy Jenkins & Pappy Sherrill, Spider John Koerner, The Rose Tattoo and many more.
He has recorded over the years for National Geographic Records, National Public Radios' ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, Flying Fish, Cookieman Music, Redhouse Records, and for his own label, Smokestack Productions.
In addition his songs have been recorded by Utah Phillips, Tom Perlman, Sawyer Tom Hayden, Jim Ringer, and Horse Sense.
"He's got a great heart and I would trust him with my life, I think you can trust him with your stage…. One of the 10 best singers of Traditional Music."
"You're the first writer in 30 years to catch the old time flavor of the songs."
"You play like you've got something in the woodpile."
"A Big City picker with a country soul!"
APPEARANCES (a selected list)
Promo Photo (445 KB, 200 DPI)