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Mark Balletto

my record player  "come around"

     My Record Player is the brainchild and expressive outlet for Mark Balletto. Mark is well known for his accomplishments as lead guitarist in Dolly Varden. His innovative solos and backdrops have added immensely to the signature sound of Dolly Varden. Mark takes a step forward in his new role in his new solo effort. Mark reveals that he blames all of his interest in music on an old blue turntable of his youth. With it's close-&-play design , a spike for a needle, and built-in pop-up 45 adapter, he feels it helped to shape his decision to play music. After struggling to rise above a basement band, his first big opportunity came with an invitation to audition for the forming Dolly Varden. DV band mates Diane Christiansen and Steve Dawson listened to Mark and invited him aboard. 10 years later, Mark still marvels at the opportunity.

     Mark has a unique musical style--his very own sound. I often listened to his work with Dolly Varden and marveled at the tasty solos and riffs that he came up with. At times I wondered if Mark simply listened to the music backwards, inside out, and upside down to come up with his ideas. I believe it is just his natural interpretation of what he feels when he listens to music. My Record Player allows a new level of expression--writing, multiple instruments, direction, and production. Some of the CD was recorded in a studio but also in his dining room and bedroom [eating and sleeping his work--grin]. Some of my favorites on the CD include:

     The title song, "Come Around", includes a pleading lyric asking for immediacy and consistency in love. Mark has structured the song around a driving alternative rock beat with a catchy major/minor riff. Mark plays the snarled guitar drive, bass, tambourine and provides the vocals. He gives the lead guitar slot to co-producer Jay Bennett. DV lead vocalists Steve and Diane provide the backing vocals.

     "Seeds" allows us to hear Mark stretch out and show us another side of his creative style. Acoustic guitar and piano [John Schulte] create the backdrop along with slide guitar, harmonica and a drum loop. The lyrics describe seeds floating on the air from his balcony plants to other places on a flight. Pondering, he wonders if his love thinks of him in the same little ways he does of her as he sees her playing with their kids in his mind. The acoustic guitar, piano, and banjo take on a raga-like but sentimental sound.

    "Turn The Radio On" is a driving tune with a distorted grunge guitar backing. Scott Balletto appears on drums. A two note riff at the songs opening seems to ride perfectly on top of the tune. The thick grunged guitar lends a sound remincent of Thin Lizzy with modern twists.

     "Loose Women & Red Wine" conjures up images of Los Lobos' "Kiko" for me. Mark adds an eerie texture to his vocals via electronic filtering with the narrow shaped bandwidth of a megaphone. The driving guitar sound smacks of heritage blues men like John Lee Hooker but with Mark's quirky and very enjoyable twists. 

     The "Nerve Of A Green Idea" manifests Mark's unique ability to craft a song based on instrumental substance yet make the words and vocal fit with glove-like precision. Echoes of guitar float on top during the introduction followed by trem bar bent chords. Mark fills out the sound between vocal lines with textured layers of cleverly bent guitar. 

     Take the time to visit Mark's site at www.myrecordplayer.com where you can check out Mark's weekly report on what's spinning around on his turntable. You can hear a sampling of the tunes on this disc as well as catch up on the in's and out's of Mark's music. If you are in Chicago or Chicago-based, you can hear Mark and company in the many fine clubs of the area. Don't delay--pick this one up--you will enjoy every minute of listening. ~ steve ekblad  -  audiogrid.com

with couch guitar

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