By: Amber Phelps, Steam Magazine
Social: Facebook/Twitter / markmckinney
Texas Country is an all-time favorite of mine. Not only because I’m born and raised, but because a lot of the time it hits home with me! Mark McKinney is no different. A family man, Austinite, and Texas Country man who sings his way into our hearts with “The River Song” that is basically written for everyone who has ever floated a river. He has worked on a new CD for us called “Standing My Ground” that will be available at iTunes October 1, 2013 or pick up a copy at live shows after October 15th.
Mark says the inspiration for his diverse array of country music is, “Life. Life’s a journey and you kind of take stuff from different aspects of your life, different stuff you’ve done, watching things your friends go through and traveling and a little bit of all.”
“I don’t ever like to try to rewrite the same kind ’a song or the same kind ’a vibe over and over. That’s probably one reason why my music is pretty diverse. Sometimes I’m in the mood to write something real mellow, and other times in the mood to write something maybe a little more rockin’, and sometimes I want to write a heartbreak song and then I want to write something about a good time or a drinkin’ song. So I’m kind ‘a back and forth all over the place in that. “
“I’ve always wanted to keep my music diverse enough to where my fans don’t know what I’m going to do next.”
Not only in his music, but in life, Mark likes to keep it real and is really down to earth. He has used project.com to help get his music out there with a skit offering out executive producer spots for donations, on his new cd, as well as showed off some of his acting skills. He loves to vine and tweet and keep up with all the social network avenues as well as teach his two children from home. His son is his #1 critic and helps Mark keep up with what’s cool and plays the fiddle, while his daughter loves everything her daddy does and plays piano. Mark’s children inspire him, as any father’s children do, and so much so that they both have an intro cameo in “Pretty Little Mess” on his album “Standing My Ground”.
Mark and his brother, Eric, who runs Wonderland Studios, had played in a band together throughout middle school and high school and pursued music since 1998. They signed with Virgin Records Nashville under Mark McKinney and the Cosmic Cowboys. Unfortunately for Mark, this record never came out as around that time Virgin Records became Capitol Records, and let them go. Mark never gave up his dream. He kept writing and started back up around 2007 putting out his first solo album and has been writing and sharing his music ever since.
Wonderland Studios was a project that Mark’s older brother, Eric and he, had started part time and Eric ended up buying out Mark’s part so that Mark could pursue his music. This new album is the first that Mark has self-produced and partnered up with his brother on.
Living just minutes from Wonderland Studios and in Austin, a live music Capitol as it is, Mark has traveled to many other fantastic places. One such place being France, where he was awarded the “Live Performance of the Year” while opening for Kevin Fowler. Mark says, “Oh, it was so cool! Fowler’s an old buddy of mine. When I first moved down to Austin we had met years ago, so we knew each other and when I started doing this Texas Country thing full time, he put me on a bunch of tour dates with him. And then we got the offer to play the Equiblues Festival in France in 2008 and they had Fowler headline on Saturday and me headline on Friday and it’s really cool. It’s like this whole western rodeo style thing with country music fans, in the middle of the mountains of south France. They toured us around and showed us castles and a bunch of history and fed us and gave us great wine.” What an amazing experience for an up and coming to be honored with such an award. He’d love to play Italy or Red Rocks in Boulder, CO. amphitheater one day. So all you up and around there, look out!
Being to France and accomplishing this major award, doesn’t go to Mark’s head. He is still a laid back man of the house and he and his family goes camping, float the river, and hang out at the beach any time they get.
Mark has also played with a huge conglomerate of music stars from Willie Nelson to Miranda Lambert and everywhere in between. Mark’s most memorable, he tells us is, “Ted Nugent. He is just as crazy as he comes across and acts, it’s not an act, he just is that crazy. Just the performance was so insane and the crowd was so wild, even when we played, so we kind ‘a raised the level to a Ted Nugent level, cause you kind ‘a have to when you play in front of his crowd, and then he comes out there and just tears it up. Then I got to hang out with him on the tour bus a little bit, after the show. At the time I was doing this funny little marketing thing with shirts and hats that say “United States of Texas”, it’s one of my merch items; the idea comes from this little club my grandfather helped form with a bunch of Texas Veterans from WWII. Anyway, I was doing these little campaign videos on Youtube, just for fun, about me running for president of the “United States of Texas”. So me and my manager at the time, decided to get Ted Nugent to give me an endorsement!”
So, while you’re checking out “Mark McKinney and Ted Nugent” on Youtube, go check out Mark McKinney on tour near you at www.markmckinney.com, follow him on twitter, facebook and vine as well.
Words by Amber Phelps