Mark Harrison

16th Jul 2021 7:30pm

MARK HARRISON (National + 12-string guitars/vocals)
Charles Benfield (double bass)
Ben Welburn (drums/percussion)

There is no one in music quite like Mark Harrison. He is widely considered one of the most original and interesting artists around.  His highly individual, all-original music has taken him and his band to some of the top venues and festivals in the UK, attracting acclaim wherever he goes. Recent appearances on BBC Radio 2, as guest on Cerys Matthews’s show and on the Pick Of The Week show, have further added to his growing reputation.    

Described at BBC Radio 2 as ‘quirky’ and an artist who ‘makes you think afresh’, Mark is a totally original songwriter, a stunning guitarist, and a master storyteller. Mark’s live shows are well-known not only for the music but also for his introductions and explanations of the songs, delivered in a manner often described as ‘wry’ and ‘dry’.

With his unique and acclaimed rhythm section, Mark is known on the blues scene as someone who is doing something different with blues music. He was nominated in the 2021 UK Blues Awards and was recently on the cover of Blues in Britain.

Mark is a songster, and his songs cover all manner of non-standard subjects. With catchy tunes, lyrics than intrigue and engage, and striking rhythms, they make you smile, think and move.

A thrilling, rhythmic, finger-picker and slide player, with a very distinctive style, Mark tours extensively with the band. He has released six albums which have been unanimously acclaimed across a wide range of areas of the music world, receiving a very great deal of airplay and highly enthusiastic reviews in the UK, Europe and the US. 2021 sees the release of Mark’s much awaited new album, THE ROAD TO LIBERTY.

Here are a few of the things that have been said about Mark and his music:

he takes very real things that happen in life and makes you think afresh about them (Paul Jones, BBC Radio 2)

 the more I listen to Mark Harrison, the more I admire the man. He's a fantastic musician, he's got a great voice and what a songwriter! He's kind of reinvented the blues in this country. What a glorious sound he makes (Frank Hennessey, BBC Radio 2)

singular lyrics …an original take on song writing (Blues in Britain)

breezy folk-blues vibe belies barbed lyrics (Classic Rock magazine)

fresh and stimulating … one of our most gifted talents (RnR magazine)

he has a wonderful ability to take unexpected subjects, twist and tune them up with humour, innovation and downright originality (Cashbox Canada/Elmore Magazine US) 


Review by Jenni Balow

Mark Harrison played his own brand of electric blues that was finger-pickin' great on a hot summer night that might have been in Memphis or on the Mississippi . . . but was at the Minack.

The acclaimed songwriter, known for his uncompromising 'tell it how it is' descriptions of life in the Delta and much closer to home, released his aptly-named album, The Road To Liberty, this month.

He came West with two members of his band, Charles Benfield, who plays compelling double bass rhythms, sometimes sawing at the strings with a bow, at others, hammering out an urgent beat with his hands.

The trio was completed by Ben Welburn on drums and percussion, with washboard at the ready,  watchful and quick to respond to the quirks of Harrison's delivery.

The self-taught guitarist caresses sweet sounds with a bite from his beloved 1934 National Trojan guitar, playing all his own original songs on both 12 and six strings, with wry and dry ease. There are more than 70 to choose from.

We got the drift when he introduced the first of many, the "uplifting" lyrics of Panic Attack, and telling us that he specialises in subjects that people may never write songs about, including Crematorium Blues, On The Chicken Sandwich Train, Black Dog Moan and Doing Time.

World War II was right up there as well, with Bombs Coming Down, a tribute to his Dad's National Service when his home town of Coventry was being blitzed.

He wrote The Demon Drink after quitting alcohol some time ago, something he jokingly didn't recommend in the light of being sober enough to appreciate how much it p..... him off.

His intriguing songwriting and story telling has been recognised with several nominations for UK Blues Awards and his individuality has been featured by the BBC's Pick of the Week programme.

He reckons the history of the Blues "created all the music you have ever liked, if you are a half-decent human being" and he is well on his way to reminding us how great it is, with a 21st century slant.

One of his latest songs is Don't Let The Crazy Out The Bag (Too Soon)  -  on The Road To Liberty  - we all go along with that.

Panic Attack