Nov 13, 2012 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Raising his family in the sleepy Western New York town of Cherry Creek, Phil Allnatt would load the brood into his Ford sedan every Sunday for a drive around Chautauqua County. That sings a song about the memory, “Around the Bend.”
“My dad passed away in 2004,” Mark said. “And ‘around the bend’ is a phrase he used a lot on those Sunday rides.” And so Mark – a veteran bluegrass banjo player who now lives in Syracuse – paid tribute to his father by writing the song with this memorable refrain:
And I wonder what lies ’round bend,
I wonder just how long before this road will end.
Will there be a shady grove, the voice of an old friend?
Oh, I think about it every now and then,
and I wonder what lies round the bend.
A ballad with deeply personal lyrics,” Around the Bend” will be one of many Allnatt originals performed from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, when the Central New York Bluegrass Association presents its Harvest Bluegrass Showcase Concert showcasing the Mark Allnatt Band, at the American Legion Post 297, at 131 Main St. in Marcellus.
Besides its leader, the Mark Allnatt Band features guitarist/mandolinist Ted Williams, Dobro guitarist Karl Paisley, fiddler Henry Jankiewicz and bassist John Dancks.
Mark began playing banjo on a dare. When he was 11, his eyes lit up when his uncle held a five-string banjo in front of him.
“My uncle told me that if I could learn to play a song on it, he’d give me the banjo,” Mark remembered. Sure enough, Mark got the banjo, and he still plays the sizzling instrumental – “Cherry Creek Breakdown” – that he composed as a result of that childhood challenge. In 2004, “Cherry Creek Breakdown” became one of the 13 tracks on “Black Dog,” the Syracuse Area Music Award-winning compact disc by John Cadley & The Lost Boys.
For the past decade, Mark has been a member of The Lost Boys, and he recently started playing with the Easy Ramblers, a country combo from Tipperary Hill. Back in the 1980s, Mark Allnatt partnered with Pennsylvania’s Stuart Family to record his own CD of original gospel tunes, “Answering the Call.”
In Marcellus, Mark’s band will play a handful of gospel numbers such as his song, “Goin’ Up to See My Lord.”
Fiddler Henry Jankiewicz, also an accomplished songwriter, marvels at Allnatt’s authentic old-time sound. “Mark has an extraordinary ability to write songs in the country bluegrass tradition that sound like tried-and-true classics,” Jankiewicz said. “He has a great forward-driving rhythm on the banjo and a stentorian singing voice which you wouldn’t think goes with such a humble guy.”
A couple other Allnatt originals include “The Road Less Traveled,” based on the poem by Robert Frost, and “I’ve Been Thinking.”
Snacks, dessert and coffee will be served between sets on Sunday at the American Legion. Admission costs $10, or $8 for CNYBA members, and is free for those ages 15 and younger accompanied by a paying adult. For information, call 572-2247, or visit cnyba.com.