Mark Bragg openly admits he’s possibly best known for his animated stage presence and “minor key raunchy bangers” songwriting style. This is a man so deeply entwined with local music he said his wedding vows at The Rock House.
But that Mark Bragg only comes out to play a few times a month at best, he tells me. The day-to-day Mark Bragg is Domestic Mark. “Dog walks, family trips, the dishes….that’s how I spend a lot of my time.”
Lucky for Sin Jawns, those of us not sharing domestic space with Mark get to see him rock out standing atop a piano bench on Sundays at his Tom Waits open mics at the Black Sheep, or burn down the house with the newly launched Catalina Reapers, with bandmates Josh Ward, Bill Haynes, and Chris Donnelly.
He says of the Reapers project “We’ve got an album’s worth of tunes written. In order to realize them the way we want to, we need to get about 20 more shows under our belt. Now is the best time to catch this band live. After the album comes out we’ll probably play less shows.”
The weekly Tom Waits jam is still going strong, and Bragg has done such a good job building community within it, that he has lightened his workload as organizer and musician.
“The performers have started reaching out to guest musicians on their own, forming backup bands for songs.” All members of the Catalina Reapers are either in the backup band for this night or performers at it, I note. That’s where the idea for the Catalina Reapers started, he says.
What’s up for the future? Mark has been really inspired by the “shared success” model of the Tom Waits nights, built by many hands and voices who felt included , and thus empowered in what can be a very exclusive scene sometimes.
He’d like to do larger projects with other musicians and organizers to nurture and promote local music, especially the weirder stuff that can have a harder time getting mainstream airplay. There’s an energy, a fan base hungry for unique stuff, he says, and he can see ideas like a label collective benefiting many.
“I like building things,” he says, and with a sly smile finishes, “though I like it if someone else maintains them.”
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