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Hidden Gems: Meet Mark Diamond

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark Diamond.

Hi Mark, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Hi, thanks for having me!  As far back as I can remember (about two days ago), music was my thing, my passion. I was sitting at a piano just having fun when I was three, and then started formal piano lessons when I was about eight. In 4th grade, I added clarinet, then drums in 6th grade, and I even played the bagpipes for a year in 9th grade.

Although I played the piano, clarinet and drums all through high school, I primarily considered myself a drummer until I was 20, when on a whim, I brought an upright bass home. It was my cousin Howard’s bass that he didn’t play anymore, so thank you, Howard! It was also the first and only stringed instrument I had ever explored. After some time, I realized that the bass combined all of the qualities of the other instruments that I had been playing.  It has the elements of the chords of the piano, the melody of the clarinet, and the percussiveness of the drums. Within three months of bringing that bass home, I started to play gigs professionally, and I haven’t stopped yet. Well, until the mighty Covid hit! The last time I didn’t perform for this long, I was a teenager! I’ve always been a night owl, so the musician’s life has suited me very well. I love the camaraderie of being in a band, and being a very social creature, I love performing for, and meeting the wide range of people who come to our shows. Musically, I’ve always had an extremely broad palette, so I’ve loved and played many styles of music throughout my life and career. This also greatly helps me to stay busy as a working musician! Music has given me the opportunity to play all over the United States and Europe, and to meet and collaborate with not only our world class local musicians, but some of the world’s most renowned musicians!  You never know what the next phone call will bring!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I don’t think that anybody’s road is smooth, no matter what their pursuit. Though I can’t speak for all musicians, I’m sure many would agree that the path is often very curvy and bumpy, with many forks along the way! Being a musician requires one to be very self-motivated. No one can make you do it, so it’s all on you! For me, knowing that music was my passion from a very young age helped guide my path. So many people don’t know their path or passion, so in that regard I feel very lucky. I like to say that I work all day and then I go to work. My days involve practicing my bass, communicating with clients and club owners, organizing shows, hiring musicians, having band rehearsals, writing up and sending contracts, etc., which then, hopefully, results in being able to “go to work”. If there is a struggle, it is being in the constant state of job hunting. So many performances are “one offs”. I’ve been fortunate (and worked hard) to have created quite a few recurring gigs over the years, but so many things change, like venues opening and closing, management changes, and so many things out of my control, that I always have to be attentive and actively pursuing work!

Finding the balance in having a family life as a musician can be challenging as well. I am so lucky to have found my wife Karen, who has supported me all the way. We have worked hard and we have amazing children, grandchildren and many extended family members as a result. I really do have it all!

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a bandleader, and a bassist for hire. Between the work that I create and the gigs offered to me by other musicians, agents, and venues, I’ve been able to stay very busy as a full-time, professional musician; 46 years and counting! I’d say that I am known for my musical diversity, and hopefully for being a decent bass player. Some folks may only know me as a jazz musician and then are blown away when they see me playing in a Led Zeppelin tribute or any of the other nonjazz performances I may be doing. That’s always very fun when that happens! I work with the best musicians in all of the musical genres that I perform, which allows me to assemble, or be a part of incredible bands for any of the varied types of performances that I do. As a bandleader, I have a number of bands that are long time working units, Big Swing TrioMilestoneLos BohemiosRobert Johnson and The Mark Diamond Trio, to name a few. I can also customize a band for a client with varied instrumentation and style. I can provide anything from a two to a ten-piece band, depending upon the space and budget I’m working with. Additionally, we often do background music gigs for occasions where folks may want more of a mingling atmosphere, but we’re always ready for an all out dance party for hundreds of partying people as well! Lots of outdoor concerts, festivals, and weddings keep us busy during the summertime. Wherever live music is needed, we’ll be there!  Also, while I have you, during Covid, we musicians have had to be very creative and come up with new ways to perform, work, and stay connected, so I have set up a home recording studio, which enables me to add bass tracks to someone’s recording project, wherever they may be in the world.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I, along with all of the great people that I work with, take being a musician very seriously and work extremely hard at being the best we can be, but we also come to have fun with each other and all of the people that we are playing for. I want people who come to hear us to really enjoy the music and have a fantastic time while doing so! If you come to one of my shows, always feel free to come up and introduce yourself.  I’ll be the guy with the stand up bass!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Sal DeVincenzo MaryLynn Gillaspie Jack Sasson Tim Ellis – French Quarter Photography Michelle Torrez

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