Mark Hill -
Mark Hill began guitar studies with
his father, Dave Hill, at age 10 reading music and studying Chet
and Merle. His
father was a Chet stylist in the 1950"s when fingerpicking was still
a novelty. He
performed with some of
Also, at the age of 12 he began classical and jazz guitar studies with David Kindred, who had studied with Lenny Breau in the 60's. (Check out some "chord lines" in Perdido on Mark's album to really see Lenny's influence.) He became possessed with the guitar and began practicing 6 to 8 hours a day like all the greats have to in order to - well, they just have to. However, he kept up the Atkins style through these years.
At about 15 he began playing the Legion circuit in a Merle Haggard cover type band, when he had put together a bunch of Chet tunes that they featured him with - his first experience performing solo guitar. He did some TV shows at that time performing tunes like Black Mountain Rag, Freight Train, and some classical stuff. He says it was a lot of fun.
When he graduated, he started teaching full time at The Yamaha School of Music. A year later he landed a 5-night-a-week engagement playing solo guitar at the Continental Restaurant playing classical, flamenco, jazz - and, of course, Chet tunes. But, he always had the best response from his audiences playing selections from "Chet Atkins Picks on the Movies" and Chet's classical pieces.
A year later he had a similar gig at the Hilton Hotel with the Brandenburg Trio (wow.) He had just got his Gibson CEC and the symphony players whom he was with thought is was the craziest thing - they must have never heard of Jerry Reed. So, he arranged Jiffy Jam for flute, violin and guitar!! (Wouldn't it be nice to find a recording of that!!)
Around thin time he had the chance to study with Ed Bickert and Liona Boyd. Liona, of course, was a huge fan of Chet and Lenny (and, we know that Chet was a big fan of hers.) She showed Mark the finer points of the tremolo technique and he showed her how to play Yankee Doodle.. (lol)
He also studied harmony and arranging with Dr. John Hanson while he continued teaching in his own music studio and performing, either solo or in all kinds of band situations. In the late 80's he submitted a demo of a Chet tune and a jazz tune to Guitar for the Practicing Musician Magazine (a typical Van Halens mag) and to his surprise they did and article on him.
He and his brother formed The Hill Brothers in 1990 playing blues of all styles. They went on the road performing very successfully in the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario and the New England States. They were in the midst of recording theri first album when every guitar players worst nightmare hit - a muscle in his left hand detached from the bone due to the strain of playing guitar for so many years.
He couldn't play for 4 years even seeing some of the best specialists in Canada. Mark Hill thought his musical life was over. Surgery wasn't an option due to the sensitive area on the hand. But, after awhile he took it upon himself to start playing for a couple minutes each day, and slowly working his time up. It took a year of this (and, a lot of prayer,) but it came back! He still has to watch the possibility of over doing it because he says he just doesn't ever want to go through that again.
Thanks to God, he then rejoined The Hill Brothers and recorded 2 CDs - the first being nominated for East Coast Music Awards. The did very well in the competition coming in 2nd to a great gospel act from the Maritimes.
It was at this point his father suggested he record some Chet music. But, Mark didn't feel that his hand was quite up for it - finding playing Stevie Ray Vaughn solos on a Strat far easier. However, remembering his roots (and, the reaction from his audiences back when he played a couple Chet tunes for them) he did finally do it. And, WE ARE GLAD HE DID!!!!
Since the release of "Mark Hill - Picks on Chet" he has performed at the Hilton Hotel for the Saint John Jazz and Blues Festival as a tribute to Chet Atkins. It was sold out with a lot of media coverage. Similar engagements followed. ("Perdido" from that CD)
He has recently picked up a distribution deal with a Canadian company and took the winter of '06 off to concentrate on composing and arranging tunes for his next CD. It will be some jazz, classical, and a couple barnburners on the nylon a la Jerry Reed - and, of course, some Chet!!
Folks - please welcome Mr. Mark Hill to the worldwide stage of "keeping Chet Atkins music alive."
Palmer Moore - Organizer, OFGC
Contact Mark Hill: firstname.lastname@example.org Where to buy "Mark Hill - Picks on Chet" - CD Baby Guitar Nine Records
Other Mark Hill Sightings and Tunes
A review of Mark Hill - Jimmy K Talent (thanks for the picture of Mark above, Jimmy)
Acid Planet - a number of Mark's tunes maintained by our good buddy, Roger Pratt.
YouTube - a small collection of Mark's tunes
Mark Hill Lesson's & Tabs
Lesson - Alice Blue Gown/It's a Sin to Tell a Lie
It's obvious the influence Lenny Breau had on Mark Hill - and, the influence Chet had on both Lenny and Mark... Here's Marks interpretation of Lenny's arrangement of Chet's "Alice Blue Gown and It's a Sin to Tell a Lie that he recorded when he was only 15 years old.. released on a CD titled "Boy Wonder".....
Tab to Gravy Waltz - (click)