Mark Rivera Pays a Visit

Last week our long time friend and endorsing artist Mark Rivera called asking if he could bring by some of his guitars (including his T-51,  Newport, Newport 12-String Bird’s-eye and Monaco III) for a tune up. This would be Mark’s first visit to New Hartford, so we were especially pleased that he was making the pilgrimage. In addition to being an accomplished professional musician, Mark has an infectious upbeat personality whose manner has a way of bringing out the best in those with whom he interacts. Maybe that’s part of what makes him such an incredible musical director.

We know Mark as a result of his guitar playing though he’s best known for his saxophone work; he’s probably one of the top two rock sax players in the country. While he’s played with Billy Joel for the last 26 years, he’s also played with everyone from Hall and Oates to Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Foreigner, Simon & Garfunkel and Peter Gabriel. Just last month, Mark played a New York show with two other long time Hamer musicians, Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades. 

As Musical Director for Ringo Starr, this year Mark put together an All Star Band comprised of Rick Derringer, Wally Palmer, Edgar Winter, Richard Page and Greg Bisonette.  

Here’s Mark playing with a couple of our own All Stars, Kim Keller (Hamer Customer Service Manager) and Andy MacDonald (Assembly and Set Up). How do you like that laser pearl Cruisebass that Kim’s playing? Any guesses when it was built? For his part, Andy picked up a Talladega, his Hamer of choice.

Andy is an accomplished musician, though he sticks to the blues. As such, the set started with Storming Monday (in G), followed by a slow version of Crossroads, and finally Goin’ Down (in G). While we knew that Mark could blow a sax, play guitar and is a percussionist, what we didn’t realize was how awesome of a vocalist he is. His voice rang out strong and warm throughout the room. 

Many of us were surprised with the great acoustics in our “multi-purpose room”. It’s a big empty room with wooden floors and nothing else except for pallets of wood that is stabilizing.

After the blues session Mark wanted to play some more up-tempo music and, naturally given his background, asked if anyone knew any Beatles songs. Chris Jarvis, who also works in set up, said that he did and they broke into A Hard Day’s Night, with Mark singing vocals. Kim can handle bass for most songs and continued to sit in. That was followed by You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away. They finished up with We Can Work It Out.

After the show, Dave Brown from our Woodshop and Todd Gencarella (fresh from giving Mark’s guitars major tune ups) were talking with Mark about local musicians. Dave mentioned that the Bouchard Brothers lived nearby. Mark responded that he played sax on Monster, from Blue Oyster Cult’s 1980 album Cultő Saurus Erectus! The following day Todd brought in the album and sure enough, Mark had credits on the song.

All in all, it was a great time with great music. Gatherings like this are one way that we can help our people remain connected to the music which they make possible. We’ve never had a sax player/vocalist perform in the shop before. It was a real treat. Mark suggested that we set up a drum kit for future performances. We might have to call our friends at Gretsch USA Drums.

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