“Charleston is an amazing city in the middle of a remarkable renaissance,” guitarist and songwriter, Mark Bryan says of his adopted hometown. “I’m lucky to be part of its growth. There are dozens of acts coming out of Charleston that are worthy of national recognition. You can really feel it.”
If you ask anyone in the Charleston music community about Bryan, they'll say, “Oh, everyone around Charleston knows Mark!” In actuality, everyone around the world probably knows a little bit about Bryan, whether they know they know or not.
As the guitarist for the two-time Grammy winning, nearly 20-million album selling band Hootie and The Blowfish, Bryan’s guitar playing was ubiquitous in 1995, contributing to the biggest album sales of any release that year, and leading to what is now ranked as one of the biggest selling albums in music history.
Of course, success at that level brings with it all sorts of pre-conceptions, so when first hearing the tunes on Bryan’s upcoming third album Songs of The Fortnight, (August 11th, Chucktown Music Group), listeners will be surprised at the down-to-Earth songwriting that plays as just-earnest enough to be relatable and believable, while also sounding like Southern hospitality.
It was after Hootie went on indefinite hiatus almost a decade ago that Bryan first went full-force into other areas of the music business beyond being a musician.
“I learned a lot about making albums over the years from the Dons: Don Dixon, Don Gehman, and Don Was,” he explains of the three production legends who worked with Hootie. “Through that, the idea of producing talented artists with great songs, and helping them make timeless recordings, was very appealing to me, and something I quickly became very passionate about.”
As Bryan began to amass production credits on dozens of recordings, he also started using his own studio and personal resources to record and release songs on the fly – first his own, and then those of other artists.
This process eventually led to the launch of the “Song of the Fortnight” blog, where Bryan posted a new song of his own, or an artist he was playing with or producing, every two weeks, for three years. Eventually, there was enough material for an album, which are the 11 songs compiled here on Songs of the Fortnight.
The album features ten Bryan originals, and an opening cut that is another nod to Bryan’s ease at throwing the spotlight; a barn-burning cover of Scruffy The Cat’s college radio favorite “Mybabyshe’sallright” (featuring frequent REM collaborator Peter Holsapple on harmonica.)
The upcoming album functions as somewhat of a capper – the “Song of the Fortnight” blog could have continued indefinitely if Bryan hadn’t received an offer to work for the College of Charleston, but the opportunity was right in line with his interest and continuing passion for elevating the local music community.
Furthering his community efforts, Bryan also teamed up with the esteemed local venue, the Charleston Music Hall to launch a television show “Live at the Charleston Music Hall,” which recently won a regional Emmy for Arts and Entertainment in the Southeast, and he is also heavily involved in Carolina Studios, a non-profit recording studio that allows children in low-income areas to have a songwriting and recording experience free-of-charge.
As Bryan continues to lend his part in helping to build Charleston, South Carolina into a rightful music mecca, he is also continuing to do what he’s done since he was a teenager by writing songs and making music.
“I have been fortunate to get to pursue my passion throughout my career,” he says. “My father taught me from a very young age to make a living doing something you love. I’ve always taken that approach to songwriting and performing by giving everything I have.”
Mark Bryan’s third album Songs of the Fortnight preceded by the single “Forgetting About Me” arrives August 11th via the artist’s own Chucktown Music Group.