Reprint from the Sherman Herald Democrat, 11/5/10 issue. I only got to use about a fourth of all we talked about in the interview, space-restrictions, and fewer pictures in print than I wished. Thanks to Mike and the Bumper Club in Sherman for letting me take pictures of this band.
For more pictures, click here
Story and photos by MARY JANE FARMER, HERALD DEMOCRAT
The Mark Allen Davis band may be the youngest in town — well, maybe not in years, but as a band.
Davis, who writes and is the lead singer, met up with lead guitar picker Randy Pelfrey at some of the local, regular jam sessions around the area less than four months ago and, they said, found they had a lot of the same goals in common. They enlisted Sam Noth to play bass guitar, and Glenn Austin on the drums, and have been pretty busy ever since.
“This is a special group of guys we’ve started here,” Davis said. “Ironically, Randy and I were working on two different projects when we met.” Davis has been involved in prison ministry and writing songs for that special calling of his and Pelfrey has recording equipment inside his home.
“I write two types of songs; one for the prison ministry and secular songs for the bars and the benefits,” Davis said. He explained that years ago, in the 1990s, he had a record deal with Atlantic America records as a songwriter. “But I was a drug addict and alcoholic. And in Nashville, they had control of everything. The Lord came at the right time, I got saved, and my life changed. I’ve been clean and haven’t been drunk in over 20 years, since I walked away from it. It’s been quite a journey.
“One night, I hooked up with Randy at a Loose Wheels Sunday jam and it was the first time I heard him play and that he heard me sing,” Davis continued. “We inquired and talked and exchanged phone numbers, and I called him a day before he was going to call me.”
Along the line of the prison ministry, Davis and Pelfrey have been recording those Christian songs and hope to have a project ready by Christmas.
Pelfrey said he bought the home recording system for a hobby, but “It doesn’t take long to get bored, recording yourself.” So, he began searching for local, untapped talent, hoping to bring them to the light. He has an advantage most record producers don’t in that he plays several different instruments. “It gets expensive to hire stuff done,” Pelfrey said.
He’s learned that musicians have to trust him. “When somebody writes a song, it’s their baby, and it takes a lot of trust to let a producer work with those babies. I sit there and say, ‘Is this a take or not?’ You have to police yourself. It’s good to have him (Davis) come in and say, like, ‘Well, that’s good, but I’m not hearing this…’ Neither of us can wear our feelings on the sleeve. You have to lay an idea down and if it’s not working then chunk it. Sometimes we’ve rearranged these songs and he said that’s not what he had in mind, but this is better and so it works both ways,” Pelfrey said without taking a breath.
The two musicians plan to start two independent record labels, one for Christian music and the other for the secular recordings.
Davis and the band will sing and perform about four of his original songs in each set, but rely also on a mix of the classic country with the newer country music sounds. Each musician in the band said he has gotten burned out on the top 40 songs, and to hear Mark Allen come along with originals and put these into living, breathing songs ready for the public, is refreshing. But, Davis said, they understand that many people who come out want to hear and dance to the classics, and so they are more than willing to bring those to life for them, too.
Austin was off the music scene for a while because of major health problems, during which time his musician friends held a benefit to help him with medical expenses. He said he finished his formal rehabilitation in April and continues to work out at home, exercising and walking the dogs. He’s kept up with his drumming practice through a set of electronic drums his parents purchased for him. “This keeps me in practice without bugging the ears of everyone around me,” Glen said. He added that he’s been blessed with a good wife who had a good job and “that makes it all a lot easier.”
Glenn said he’s just proud to still be able to play music. “We just have fun. We are not trying to be Nashville superstars. We love what we are doing and people feed off that.” Austin provides most of the harmonies in the band. He’s been in bar bands since he was 18, he recalled.
Davis, modest to a fault when it comes to being interviewed, called Randy “the glue” in the band. To which Pelfrey said about his stage presence, “I have to concentrate on what I do,” unlike many musicians who are more “animated” on stage.
The band has played many benefits, such as last week’s drug court fundraiser, along with its Saturday night gigs around Texoma and farther south, and of that Davis said, “If we gain two new friends each time, they may bring in two more people next time.”
“This is a young thing we’ve got, we’re not a bunch of new guys on the scene, but we are new together,” Davis added.
Category: *- Features