Mark Wayne Glasmire - Acoustic Guitar/Lead and Back-up Vocals
MARK WAYNE GLASMIRE
With a voice as comfortable as your favorite old shirt and as warm as springtime, Mark Wayne Glasmire has all an artist needs to touch a listener’s heart. His songs are garlanded in rainbow harmonies that bring The Eagles and CS&N to mind. His lyrics have a rare universal appeal, to lovers of all ages. Women feel his respect and attention; guys wouldn’t mind sharing a few stories with him over a beer or two.
All that rings true on Can’t Be Denied, which releases this fall. His songs and performances aren’t fashioned toward any particular demographic. Instead, Glasmire writes from experience — and his experiences have been many and varied. Yes, he’s played the writers’ rounds up and down Music Row. But he’s also sung in Greenwich Village folk clubs whose histories stretch back to when Dylan was new in town. Nowadays he lives in Arlington, Texas, where Lone Star tradition has added yet another dimension to his music. And all the while he’s done what had to be done to raise a family.
What else is unusual about Mark Wayne Glasmire? His life won’t be shattered if he never releases a Platinum album or storms the world on a stadium tour. That’s not why he does this. That’s not why he celebrates love’s sweet pangs on “I’ve Got A Feeling,” spins a classic Western outlaw tale on “Borderline,” reflects on opportunities lost and dreams yet to be dreamed on ‘This Too Shall Pass” or eulogizes his father on “Thru My Eyes,” not with a predictable sentimentality but with a more realistic blend of tenderness, regret and maybe a little anger.
No, he does music because he must. Of course he’d thrill to play on the Opry stage someday. But if it doesn’t happen, the music — his vivid hymns to life’s milestones and memories — will go on.
“I’ve thought about this,” Glasmire muses. “When that day comes that I retire from the day job that pays my mortgage and puts food on my table, I can see myself going to a ski town in the Rockies or down to Key West, sitting on a stool in the corner with my guitar and a few songs, the same as how I started.”
Glasmire is thinking of one particular night at Kutztown State University in Pennsylvania, where he was studying business administration. His parents had given him a guitar as a Christmas present when he was 10 years old; though he took to it immediately he was too wrapped up in sports and not confident enough to play it outside of his room. Inspired by Harry Chapin, Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor and, in his words, “true storytellers,” Glasmire began applying his love for writing short stories to original tunes. He was still too shy to play in public until his girlfriend at the time talked him into playing at a coffeehouse in her dormitory.
That’s all it took. After graduation, Glasmire recalls, “I’d do construction for my dad. Then I’d get cleaned up and drive an hour and a half to New York, through the Holland Tunnel and right into the Village. I’d play and come home at 2:30 or 3 in the morning. I’d get up at 6:30 and go back to work. On top of that I was playing locally in Pennsylvania.”
His very first visit proved fruitful. Glasmire and his friend Pat Troiani rode the bus from Bethlehem to the Port Authority and found their way to the historic folk venue Gerde’s Folk City. Sonny Ochs, sister of the fabled folk icon Phil Ochs, heard Glasmire audition in the essentially empty room after midnight and immediately booked Glasmire to open for Suzanne Vega. Before long Mark and Pat became a duo and were featured along with Vega, Dave Van Ronk, Tom Paxton and Jesse Winchester on an episode of the PBS series Phil Ochs Song Nights. Mark also continued his solo career and went on to perform on bills with Gordon Lightfoot, Tracy Chapman and other luminaries.
In search of new challenges and maybe a less grueling routine, Glasmire moved to Nashville, where he learned that he wasn’t the type of writer who could churn out country hits on command. “Some great people in Nashville can do that all day long,” he says. “I’m not one of them. I tried to be more country. But I found out pretty quick that you won’t find success until you’re true to who you are. Don’t try to be somebody else. If you’re constantly trying to be what somebody else wants you to be, you’re in trouble.”
And so Glasmire left for Texas, settled in Arlington and began composing more personally. This time, with writing chops sharpened in Nashville, he hit the stride he maintains to this day. His peers acknowledged his achievements with numerous awards — first place in the B.W. Stevenson Memorial Songwriting Competition in Dallas, the Dallas Songwriters Association International Songwriting Competition and the GINA/LAWIM Songwriting Competition in Los Angeles, as well as the Grand Prize in the
Country Song division of the 2010 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest. His single “I Like You” lodged for nine weeks at the top of Europe’s International Country HotDisc Chart in 2011. All traces of his onetime stage fright had vanished as he opened for Dierks Bentley, Guy Clark and other headliners.
More important, he grew to know himself better as an artist and to understand his mission. In a way, his horizons drew closer as he sought inspiration through everyday events. He’s part of a community, in a place where you know most of the folks know each other by their first name. But even — maybe especially — in this intimate world, his songs convey greater meaning than ever. Which is all he ever really wanted.
“A few weeks ago I opened for Kathy Mattea at a place in Dallas called Poor David’s Pub,” he reflects. “After my set someone came up to me and said, ‘I love your music! I’m an Episcopal minister. Would you mind if I used some of your songs for my sermons? I said, ‘I would be honored. Actually, if you want me to come and sing a couple of these songs at your church, I’d be glad to do it.’ “See, I never set out to be a superstar. That’s not what drove me. It wasn’t fame and fortune, it was the freedom to do what I love to do.”
Harvested from life and shaped by Glasmire’s unique talent, Can’t Be Denied won’t be denied. But it can be savored again and again as music as limitless in its appeal as imagination itself.