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  • For Immediate Release: February 12, 2010

    San Francisco-Based Multi-Instrumentalist
    Mark Growden
    Set to Release Ninth Album
    Saint Judas
    Through Porto Franco Records
    March 16, 2010
    ~
    With National Record Release Party at Hotel Café in Los Angeles 3/16/10
    + Additional U.S. Southwest Tour Dates Scheduled – February, March, April

    LOS ANGELES, CA – San Francisco-based multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer Mark Growden is set to release his ninth album, Saint Judas, through Porto Franco Records on March 16, 2010. The national record release party will take place in Los Angeles on the same day at Hotel Café in Hollywood. Saint Judas, an intoxicating mix of roots music with a postmodern aesthetic, features 13 tracks of ‘Americana noir’ with an overarching theme of redemption. Hotel Café is located at 1623 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028. Doors will open at 8:00 p.m., ages 21+ allowed. Tickets will cost $10.00 at the door or $7.00 in advance. For more information on the venue please call 323-461-2040 or visit http://hotelcafe.com. For more on the artist please visit http://markgrowden.org and http://www.myspace.com/markgrowden.

    Growden’s eclectic body of work is a challenge to categorize, though, as a musician, he is often compared to songwriting icons Nick Cave and Tom Waits. Additionally, Growden has been described as a wordsmith on par with the legendary Leonard Cohen – who he fittingly covers on Saint Judas with a reworked version of “I’m Your Man.”

    Recurring themes in the intensely personal new album include love and loss, sin and faith, perseverance, compassion, and, most significantly, redemption. There is a darkness that haunts Saint Judas, though not without a glimmer of hope. Growden explains that, for him, the resurrection theme that surfaces throughout the work isn’t of the magical rise-from-the-dead variety, but rather that, “it takes some grieving to get through to the joy.”

    His soulful music reinterprets older, pre-rock forms such as blues, jazz, cabaret, gypsy, and folk with a contemporary edge. While Growden cites the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Nina Simone, and Kurt Weill as influences, the new album should appeal not only to roots music enthusiasts, but also to fans of indie darlings DeVotchKa, Beirut, Rasputina, Devandra Banhardt, and Andrew Bird.

    Growden is captivated with old American music, mainly African-American, recorded by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax in the 1930s and 1940s; several tracks on Saint Judas are reworkings of these songs. Album opener “Undertaker,” based on a Lomax field recording of the prison work song “Rosie,” introduces the theme of resurrection. “Dig me a grave, in the open plain. Lower me down, and pull me up again,” sings Growden, over a howling guitar and trumpet. And the closing banjo-and-voice only “All the Pretty Little Horses” is a version of an old spiritual Growden calls “one of his favorite songs ever” which was written, according to legend, by a woman watching horses pull her child’s hearse through the streets.

    The title track on Saint Judas – a cabaret rocker with its refrain of “bottoms up to you, buddy, ’cause somebody had to take the blame” – honors the biblical “Saint of Sinners” often vilified as the traitor who turned on Jesus. The song is a call to acknowledge and accept the worst that lies within everyone while finding the strength to forgive and carry on.

    The biblical references that pile up throughout the album are no accident – Growden’s father was a preacher in the northern Sierra Nevada town of Pinetown, California, where he was raised. But Growden is less interested in religious iconography than he is in seeing biblical stories as universal themes. As an example, “Delilah,” with its plaintive accordion and cello, references the story of Samson and Delilah, but as a metaphor, he says, “of the death of ego, of the illusion of yourself, for love.”

    In perhaps the most moving piece on the album, “The Gates/Take Me To the Water,” Growden asserts that “every soul is welcome,” in a line that sums up the overarching theme of Saint Judas, “be you a virgin, a whore, a sinner or a saint.” This adaptation of an old spiritual delicately builds from a percussive accordion-heavy opening to a rousing choir-fed climax before launching into a rollicking New Orleans-style version of the traditional song. “Everyone assumes that it’s about Katrina, says Growden of the track, “but it was written before Katrina. It’s about walking in Oakland and seeing the pain in people’s eyes.”

    Saint Judas track listing:

    1. Undertaker (6:20)
    2. Delilah (6:13)
    3. Saint Judas (3:25)
    4. If the Stars Could Sing (3:48)
    5. Been in the Storm so Long (7:05)
    6. I’m Your Man (4:25)
    7. Faith in my Pocket (3:58)
    8. Everybody Holds a Piece of the Sun (2:29)
    9. Coyote (7:20)
    10. Handlebars (3:01)
    11. Inside Every Bird (5:36)
    12. The Gates/Take me to the Water (9:22)
    13. All the Pretty Little Horses (3:57)

    All songs on Saint Judas were written by Growden except track #5 (traditional as sung by Mary Pickney, adapted by Growden), track #6 (adapted from words and music by Leonard Cohen), track #9 (words by Deke Weaver, music by Growden), track #11 (words by Growden and Angus Balbernie, music by Growden) , track #12 (“Take me to the Water” – traditional with new words and music by Growden), and track #13 (traditional adapted by Growden).

    Saint Judas is Growden’s first studio album of songs in eight years.  The gap is significant and reflects a period of some turmoil in Growden’s life that surfaces in the themes of redemption and forgiveness that run through the album’s 13 songs. His extended break from music was largely due to a drug addiction that he needed time and space away from music to overcome. Now clean for over two years, Growden says the strength and perspective he has gained from kicking his habit have given him a renewed focus on music.

    The album was recorded live, with almost no overdubbing, in the studio. Growden’s seductive vocals and accordion skills are showcased, with the voraciously talented musician also contributing on the baritone saxophone, banjo, and 10-speed bicycle handlebars. Guitarist Myles Boisen, acoustic bassist Seth Ford-Young, percussionist Jenya Chernoff, cellist Alex Kelly, and trumpeter Chris Grady (Boisen, Ford-Young, and Grady all long time Tom Waits sidemen) provide an energetic complement to Growden. The group, aka the Mark Growden Sextet, gathered at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in Northern California for a 4-day rehearsal retreat to prepare for recording live in the studio with producer/engineer Oz Fritz (whose resume includes working with a range of folks from Waits to Caetano Veloso).

    The resulting music on Saint Judas is an evocative set of sultry ‘Americana noir’ that matches the energy and intimacy of Growden’s live shows. “I want to touch people’s hearts instead of their heads,” says Growden when summarizing the ultimate goal for his creative efforts.

    More on Mark Growden…
    As a composer and performer, Growden has released several critically acclaimed albums and performed at venues such as the Fillmore and Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, and Tonic and The Knitting Factory in New York. He has performed and collaborated with a wide range of musicians and artists including members of The San Francisco Opera, Bob Weir, Hamza el Din, Kid Congo Powers, John Santos, Omar Sosa, Remy Charlip, Faun Fables, and Stan Ridgeway. He has composed original musical scores for a number of dance and theater companies including Joe Goode Performance Group, The Crucible, and Alonzo King’s LINES Contemporary Ballet with whom he and his collaborators won the Isadora Duncan Award for Best Original Score for a New Dance Piece. He has scored several films including 2005’s Blood Tea and Red String, which won Best Animation at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival and at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal. Growden also co-produces San Francisco-based COVERT – a site-specific concert series with famed artist John Law.

    After initially establishing himself as a jazz/new music winds player and composer in the mid-1990s, Growden began playing accordion and banjo when all his other instruments were stolen from a theater where he was accompanying a dance performance. He is currently writing an opera based on Saint Judas, is working on an educational film about how the harmonic series works, and leads singing workshops in various cities. In October 2009, Growden and Porto Franco Records signed the recording deal for Saint Judas. The team is now getting ready to produce two more albums to be recorded with his Los Angeles and Tucson ensembles, in those cities, respectively.

    # # #

    For photos, a copy of the album, or to request an interview, please contact Green Galactic’s Lynn Hasty at 213-840-1201 or lynn@greengalactic.com.

    # # #

    Calendar of Live Performances

    Sat. Feb. 13, 9:00pm – Echo Curio – Los Angeles, CA
    Wed. Feb. 17, 10:00pm – Redwood Bar & Grill – Los Angeles, CA
    Fri. Feb. 19 2010, 7:30pm – The Steynberg Gallery – San Luis Obispo, CA
    Sat. Feb. 20, 12:00pm – Secret Location T.B.A. – Gypsy Camp the Fourth – Los Angeles, CA
    Wed. Feb. 24, 10:00pm – Redwood Bar & Grill- Los Angeles, CA
    Thu. Mar. 11, 8:00pm – Porto Franco Art Parlor – San Francisco, CA
    Fri. Mar. 12, 8:00pm – Porto Franco Art Parlor – San Francisco, CA
    Sat. Mar. 13, 8:00pm – Porto Franco Art Parlor – San Francisco, CA
    Sun. Mar. 14, 2:00pm – Porto Franco Art Parlor – San Francisco, CA
    Sun. Mar. 14, 8:00pm – Porto Franco Art Parlor – San Francisco, CA
    * Tue. Mar. 16, 8:00pm – Hotel Cafe – National Record Release Party – Los Angeles, CA *
    Sat. Mar. 20, 7:00pm – The Kessler Theater – Dallas, TX
    Sun. Mar. 21, 10:30pm – The Saxon Pub – Austin, TX
    Wed. Mar. 24, 8:00pm – AvantGarden – Houston, TX
    Thu. Mar. 25, 8:00pm – AvantGarden – Houston, TX
    Sat. Mar. 27, 9:00pm – East Side Showroom – Austin, TX
    Fri. Apr. 9, 8:00pm – The Screening Room – Tucson, AZ
    Sat. Apr. 10, 8:00pm – The Screening Room – Tucson, AZ

    Additional Artist Information
    Artist site: http://markgrowden.org
    Porto Franco Records: http://www.portofrancorecords.com/album/12
    Press kit: http://markgrowden.org/press-kit

    Social Networking
    Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/markgrowden
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Mark.Growden.Music
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/markgrowden

    Posted on February 13th, 2010 lynn-hasty No comments

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