More and more I’m getting interested in effects caused by taking bad photographs. Over-exposures, blurry streaks, too much light, too little light, etc. It’s getting to the point where I’m more interested in recreating these effects than painting the subject of the photo.
That’s not to say the subject of this piece is unworthy of painting. Mark Stephens is someone who needs to be immortalized and by someone with more skill than me. I first saw him perform at Frederick’s Music Lounge. At the time he was in a band called The Highway Matrons. I was aware of this band but had not heard them yet. This particular night he was there alone sitting at the bar. There was an open mic thing going on and the MC was calling people up on stage. After a bit of small talk with him, his name was called and he went up. This was in Dec of 2000 and the open mic had an X-Mas theme. Mark got up and plowed through “We Three Kings”. I was floored. He did the most ragged, frayed and beautiful version of any X-Mas song I had ever heard. Since then I’ve always been in Awe of him.
About a year later I wandered into Frederick’s and Mark’s band Fred’s Variety Group was playing on stage. Mark’s surf tinged garage solos caused me to hallucinate and see a vast desert behind him. The wind was blowing sand everywhere and his guitar was the only sound you could hear. Back when I was in some bands I was lucky enough to play some gigs with him and got to know him fairly well but I still carried that Awe for him. Later I found out about his band from the 90s, The Boorays who opened for the likes of Big Star and other notables. Early days I completely missed out on.
I rarely see Mark now. The last band I saw him perform in was The Deserters about 2 or 3 years ago. Which was an awesome group but I don’t think they’re together anymore. The photo I’m working from for this piece is when he was performing with The Deserters at The Firebird. I was using my digital camera and had a few too many drinks. The photos turned out blurry but still interesting.