A LUST AND A LONGING
Trough Records TRCP 1011
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1. Nobody’s Fool
2. Had to Do It
3. Save the Baby
4. The Last Time I Kissed Jane
5. The Healing Kind
6. The Middle of Nowhere
7. Got a Girlfriend
8. Oh the Lonesome
9. Amazing Days
And then the sun came out. I had my last drink on December 31, 1989 at 11:59:59 pm. And I didn’t have a drink the next day. And somehow it stuck. I started therapy. I was truly miserable – it took me two years to work my way out of the personal and financial messes I’d gotten myself into, and each step of the way felt as if I were crawling through glass.
In 1991 I started writing a few songs for a new album, but that was difficult too. But I had managed to keep all that great recording equipment I’d purchased back in ’88, so slowly but surely I started putting together drum tracks, and in 1991 Rob Dobbins and Tim Cupps and Joey Dobbins helped lay down the first tracks for the album, but it was taking forever. I wrote the first horn charts I’d ever written for two of the songs and was thrilled that they worked when they were recorded.
But I was still stuck. I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong. And then, one night in early 1993, sitting at the dinner table, staring at the recording console across the room – it dawned on me: I needed to use professional musicians! So I walked over to the console and erased every track of the project where I played an instrument I wasn’t very proficient at. And then I contacted a Musicians’ Contact Service and hired a couple of players – Randy Wolchek (who became a friend, played many live gigs with me and appeared on all five of my initial Trough Releases) on Keyboards and Mike Langeland on guitars – and paid old friend Jeff Album to come down to L.A. to play on some tracks - and before I knew it, the record was done!
All I needed now was the money to have the album mastered and pressed – and I had zero money to do that. That’s when I got a package in the mail from a couple dozen friends, who all had written checks that added up to just enough to pay to get the album out. On August 27, 1993 I picked up the first batch of CDs from the manufacturer and then drove to a meeting in downtown Los Angeles. After the meeting I pulled a copy of A Lust and a Longing out of my trunk and handed it to an attorney I had just been meeting with. And with that handoff, the album was released and Trough Records was born.
Trough Records TRCP 1022
3. East of Cheyenne
4. All of a Sudden
6. Martha Loves David
7. First Thing in the Morning
8. Bill Gannon’s Blues
9. Long Way to London
10. Cry if you Want To
11. Honey I’m Home
12. Telephone Road
After A Lust and a Longing was released and after I sent it out to several hundred folk radio shows around the country, I started to make plans to move to Nashville to try to sell my songs there. I thought I was done with performing.
But then I scheduled a couple of short shows up in San Francisco with a couple of friends – and the bug bit me again. So at the age of 37 in 1994, I started looking around and discovered an open mic at a place called Highland Grounds in Hollywood. There I met, on the very first night I attended, several songwriters I still know today – and from there developed a new set of friends and colleagues.
By the summer of 1994 I was playing regular gigs at local coffeehouses throughout Southern California. I moved to a new place – out of Hollywood and into tiny Sierra Madre, where I rented a cottage with an old garage that I converted into a studio and I began to record my second Trough album, Angelenos – a series of songs mostly about or involving Los Angeles. By the time it was released in June of 1995, I had become the every-other-week host of the open mic at the legendary Iguana Café in North Hollywood – and after the Iguana closed in the summer of 1995, in October of that year I embarked on my first national tour. – three weeks in the cold Northeastern United States.
I was actually doing this.
Sing Out! Magazine wrote of Angelenos:
“This successful concept album revolves around the people who make up the population of Southern California. It begins in ‘Omaha,’ telling of the Nebraska boy lured to California by oranges and gold, who lived an ordinary life, dying on his front porch in the shadow cast by fireworks at Disneyland. From this acoustic start, Humphreys rocks into the metaphysical creation of Los Angeles and all its blights and furies in the title song. The moving ‘East of Cheyenne' finds Everyman abandoning his family in Wyoming on their journey to his wife’s new job in California. ‘Cry if You Want To’ vividly describes big city violence and the anonymity of death all too common, in this case, in L.A. The final song, ‘Telephone Road', finds our hero desperately trying to reach L.A. after his car dies on the outskirts of town…’Angelenos’ is a first-rate effort. Humphreys has something to say and he says it well.”
Trough Records TRCP 1033
1. The Jaws of Life
2. Morning Mist
3. Spike Jones
4. The Rain and the Rock and the Palm of Her Hand
5. The Flower of Youth (feat. Jennifer Hardaway)
6. Leap Day
7. Bible in the Dresser
8. The Phoenix and Me
9. One More Light in the World
10 Sleeping with the Widow
11. Tide Pool
In 1996 I toured nationally for the second time, this time in the spring, and started booking for the spring and fall of 1997. By the time I started recording Leap Day back in Sierra Madre in late ’96, I had become part of a truly amazing group of musical colleagues, among them Andrew Lorand and Rod Sphere (then known as Rod Smear).
I released Leap Day in early ’97, and shortly thereafter a benefactor who wanted Rod to release an album asked me if Trough would release a Rod Smear album if she paid for it. I thought it was a novel idea – so Andrew and I recorded – and Andrew produced – Rod’s first album, dot, and it was released in mid-1997 on Trough Records.
It was then I decided to invite Andrew, and then Tim Tedrow and John-Michael Kaye, who were getting ready to put out albums, to release their records on the label as well. From those first four releases in 1997, the model for Trough Records that remains today took hold – artists would pay for the cost of making their albums, and Trough would release them, giving the artists a single identity – except that Trough would not own any of the artists’ work in any way.
Oh – and I took Leap Day – an album filled with songs about leaps of faith and reconciliation – on the road for those two 1997 tours. I was now getting real folk radio airplay and developing relationships with venues and DJs all over the country – and my music was getting favorably reviewed. I was having the time of my life.
Crossroads Magazine wrote of Leap Day:
“Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Mark Humphreys’ third recording is hard not to like. His strong, imperfect, very human voice compellingly animates real-life stories, memories, and allegories, all artifacts of an observing eye that alternately cannot and will not refuse to see…nothing on ‘Leap Day’ stays down, rising to simple, direct instrumental arrangements and, most of all, Mark Humphreys’ upbeat vocals and lyrical conceits.”
SONGS AT THE MOON
Trough Records TRCP 1044
1. Someone Else’s Heart
2. Amazing Days
3. Ain’t It Easy
4. Michael (1)
5. The Easiest Thing
6. After All
7. Oh the Lonesome
8. Hello Again
9. Meant for Me
10. Too Many Tears
11. We Turn
12. Deborah’s Eyes
13. Lord Shall We Remember
Victory Review wrote of Songs at the Moon:
"The performances are strong and tight, and Humphreys clearly feels at home, opening his voice wide and giving us his best. Many of his songs are love songs, by turns wistful, practical and lonesome, but never bitter. In these, and in the more philosophical 'Amazing Days' and 'After All,' there is grace and wisdom that give his music real soul.”
I spent 1998 and 1999 touring myself silly. In 1998 I was on the road for nearly five months, and I was wrapping up booking for a total of seven (7) months on the road for 1999. I knew I needed to release a new album, but constant touring (and simultaneously managing my “regular” job) inhibited my ability to write new material.
One day while on tour somewhere in the Midwest in the summer of 1998, I hit on a unique idea – how about I do a LIVE show with some of my friends and musician buddies – and perform some of those OLD songs from my First Incarnation as a songwriter? I was performing lots of those songs on the road – why not do the new arrangements with a full band in front of a live audience?
Somehow – and it was such a whirlwind I barely remember how we did it – Kris and Terry Vreeland donated their huge living room, we filled it with a lifetime’s worth of friends to watch and listen, and on September 12, 1998 John-Michael Kaye, Albe Bonacci, Andrew Lorand, Tim Cupps, Randy Wolchek and I played our hearts out. When I returned from my 1998 autumn tour, Andrew and I mixed the album and it was released in early 1999. That year, before I left on the spring half of my seven month journey, I ran into a friend from the Iguana Café days at the opening of a new venue, her name was (and is!) Melissa Morgan – and sparks flew. And everything changed. Again.
On the road: At Drips Coffeehouse in Hickory North Carolina, April 24, 1999 – right at the beginning of my spring tour.
THE RIVER ROAD
Trough Records TRCP 1055
1. Water and Dust
4. The River Road
5. Ain’t Got Time to Rain
6. Jesus Christ, Joe Walsh and I
7. Footsteps Down the Hall
8. Bakery Sale
9. Somewhere Lullaby
11. A Wedding Waltz
Sing Out! Magazine wrote of The River Road:
"Humphreys' lyrics capture the betweenness of things, a sense that we're all travelers on our way to somewhere else, that each moment is both singular and transitory, worthy of attention, yet already passing into memory."
My final album of new songs. Maybe my best from the touring years. A collection of songs about journeys – real and imagined. 10 songs written by me and one written by Andrew Lorand and Dan Bern. One of mine, Home, was written for the woman who became my wife, Melissa.
After The River Road was released in 2002 I continued to tour for three more years – and then – after my spring tour in 2005 – I decided that this part of my adventure was over – that I’d always stay around music but that my touring days were done. I wanted to be able to sleep with my bride every night and explore the possibilities laid out before me at the “day job “. I’d worked simultaneously all those years and which now offered me a chance for new challenges – and sitting here today I can say with certainty that I am happy that I chose that path.
I played locally in L.A. and environs for another decade or so, here and there, until arthritis finally made it impossible for me to play any longer. But I will never forget nor ever diminish the years I spent as a performing songwriter. I have been blessed to work with phenomenally talented artists and continue to produce albums by many of them, which is as high an honor as I can imagine. I’m proud of all the songs I’ve written – all of them, even the ones that were…let’s just call them evolutionary.
And I hope you, dear visitor – if you’ve never heard my music – will take the time to listen to some of it when you get a chance. THANK YOU!
At the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena, 2012.
BLACK AND WHITE
Trough Records TRCP 1066
Andrew Lorand and I put this compilation of stuff from my pre-Trough years together in 2005. It’s a good introduction to my early material.
1. Black and White
2. My Old-Fashioned Way
3. Trying to Change My Mind
4. The Star-Spangled Banner
5. Tip of My Tongue
6. Turn the Page
7. Roll On
8. The Shadow of Your Love
9. Fallen Angel
10. A Woman Like You
11. Cool of the Day
12. Black Espresso
13. Diamond in My Hand
16. Sun Shine Don’t Sing (w/Motel Six)
17. Mexican Sunrise
18. Little Dirt House
19. Pocketful of Gold
20. She’s My Lover (There She Goes) (w/Motel Six)
21. New Way of Walking (On the Moon)
22. La Da (w/Certain Monsters)
23. Harry Lanier
25. Channel 32 (w/Motel Six)
27. Ugly Ugly
28. Genuine (w/Motel Six)
THE MARK HUMPHREYS EXPERIENCE
Trough Records TRCP 1103
1. New Way of Walking (On the Moon) by Wunderbar!
2. Angelenos by Darryl Purpose
3. Omaha by Piper-Grey
4. Footsteps Down the Hall by John-Michael Kaye
5. Desire by Matthew Lee
6. The One That I Love by Rob Dobbins
7. Waverly by Dave Morrison
8. Fantasyland by Jeff Album
9. Oh the Lonesome by Tim Tedrow & Terry Vreeland
10. Bill Gannon’s Blues by Robert Morgan Fisher
11. She’s My Lover (There She Goes) by Wunderbar!
12. Pocketful of Gold by Jeff Gold
13. Sun Shine Don’t Sing by Andrew Lorand
14. Rainbow by Lisa Johnson
15. Marylou by Dane Bardwick
16. Save the Baby by Phil Ward
17. Leap Day by Dave Morrison
18. Tide Pool by Mike Atlee w/Hickorystick
19. Ambulance Chaser by Richard Humphreys
20. Michael (1) by Rob Dobbins
21. East of Cheyenne by Tim Tedrow & Terry Vreeland
22. Someone Else’s Heart by The Dobbins Family
23. Mexican Sunrise by Paul Zollo
24. Martha Loves David by Piper-Grey
25. The Ballad of Harry Lanier by Wunderbar!
26. All of a Sudden by Andrew Lorand
27. Doomed to Disaster by Mr. S
28. Tip of My Tongue by The Dobbins Family
At Christmas in 2008, I was given this gift – an actual tribute album! – with my songs performed by a whole lot of beloved friends. It remains one of the highest honors of my lifetime. And now, thanks to the generosity of the artists, you can get it too!
My very last full show as a headliner, up at Bob Morley’s Barn in the hills above West Covina, California on September 28, 2013 – Tim Cupps on bass (in the foreground) and John-Michael Kaye on guitar (way back there!).
Tim, John and me outside the barn right before that last show, 9/28/13. In the ten years of touring and more 20 years of live performances overall beginning in 1994, I played more shows with these two guys than with anyone else. I promise you – there is NOTHING more joyful than making music with good friends – and I’ve had a lot of joy!
MY FINAL PERFORMANCE!
If I regret anything about my active years on the road, it’s that technology hadn’t quite caught up to where we are today. YouTube wasn’t yet around during the heart of those years – and social media was in its infancy. So there really isn’t any video available of me playing a real show.
Well it just so happens that back in 2017, right before arthritis made it impossible for me to play anymore, I lost a sports bet to a fellow songwriter and was required to write a song about my friend’s favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals – and then post it on YouTube. So I did it the right way – I visited Kulak’s Woodshed here in Los Angeles on its open mic night, when you can tip the house band and they’ll back you up on one song and the house will commit it to video.
As it turns out (and this was certainly NOT planned), this was my very last public performance – and I’m singing the last song I ever wrote – the song I wrote to pay off the sports bet! It’s a pretty decent little number – and I’m backed by some great musicians. The song is called Go Crazy, and it’s titled after Hall of Fame Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck’s famous call of Ozzie Smith’s game-winning home run against the Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1985 National League Championship Series. Enjoy!
(C) Mark Humphreys. All rights reserved.
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