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Tips & Tales w/ Johnny Divine

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If all debuts could go this well!! May 9th, 2019 was a special evening with the gathering of friends, a surrounding of art work, plenty of great food, lots of laughter, and, at the top of the list, well played and wonderful, professional music. This all took place at the 9th Street Studios right here in Wichita Falls.

9th Street Studios was kind enough to host the brainchild of singer/songwriter Mark Sutton, who’s kindness and humble approach to the music world disguises the fact that he is a very talented force to be reckoned with. And what is this brainchild? Mark came up with the idea to present original music in an atmosphere unlike noisy bars and cavernous venues. As he called it, a “Listening Room Concert”. A place where the music and lyrics can be heard and appreciated at a whole new level. A place where ideas and dreams can be discussed. A place to share a conversation with the audience if they are so inclined. Basically, an evening where all can be involved with original music as a common ground.

Let me share Mark’s actual description of his brainchild in his words: Our mission is to promote a warm and friendly venue that provides an informal, intimate, inclusive atmosphere for high-quality singer/songwriters, musicians, and artists performing all original works for the enrichment of our community. To that end, our commitment is to provide a place to relax, take a deep breath, expand musical appreciation, and share an unforgettable experience.

Mark’s mission was fully realized the first time out. On this particular Thursday evening, the stage was initially occupied by Mark, a student of local jazz guitarists, the late Tiger Echols, and a student of life and of the world. Mark was joined by Wichita Falls legend, David Holcomb. David first gained attention in our area in the 60’s as the lead guitarist of The Mammals, a local rock band whose popularity still carries on today. David’s career continued with the Wichita Falls Independent School District as the orchestra director, based out of Old High and travelling to Zundy, Crockett, and Ben Franklin schools. Upon retirement after 35 years, David took his guitar and his alternate instruments, the violin and mandolin, and became a much sought-after side man with musicians from a variety of genres, including Western Swing, country and western, jazz, and cowboy music and occasionally doing shows with The Mammals.

Mark’s wonderful choice of adding David’s talents to his singing style, his between song stories, and his well-crafted songs covering such diverse subjects as love (whether real or fictional), loss, cantinas, falling stars, growth, hobo camps, days of the speakeasy, change, and many more colorful subjects, allowed for a dynamic opening act. I hesitate to say “opening act” because both acts were crucial to the evening’s success, no matter the order.

Next up was the husband and wife team of Steven Jacob and Rog Kundert. Once again, great singing and great songs prevailed. Steven is a published songwriter and a popular long-time local artist, with songs covering hundred dollar shoes, million-dollar churches, super model wives, skillet licking, corn bread, Alabama, rays of sunshine, and still leaving room for a love song or two. Rog, also a career music teacher for the WFISD as was David Holcomb, highlights Steve’s tunes with harmonica, violin, guitar, and vocal harmony. Throw in a natural sense of humor and talent and you have a winning combination. To top off the show, all four artists joined together to do a couple of last songs to bring the evening to a crescendo.

Hopefully this story has brought about some curiosity in our community about Mark Sutton’s wonderful idea, the Acoustic Parlor. Keep an eye out for the July appearance of the Acoustic Parlor. The guests and the venue are yet to be announced, but with Mark Sutton behind it, expect a wonderful, unique evening music and greatness.

The Acoustic Parlor can be contacted at www.theacousticparlor.com
The 9th Street Studios can be contacted at www.9thstreetstudios.com -Johnny Divine