Breaking the Mold: Mark Vickness

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There is something spectacular about the smooth tunes of an acoustic guitar. Mark Vickness takes acoustic to an entirely new stratosphere with his fingerstyle type of strumming. Fingerstyle is a guitar-playing technique using solely fingertips, specially designed fingerpicks or fingernails. When Vickness was growing up in Roslyn, Long Island he faced tremendous adversity as he lost each of his parents before the age of ten. He credits the woman who raised him (former babysitter) for the undying passion he has for music and even began studying classical piano at the age of six.

Vickness is one half of the acoustic fusion group, “Glass House.” The other member goes by the name of Dave Worm and contributes beatboxing, vocals, improvisation and harmony. Vickness does the guitar strumming in his ever-fascinating custom fashion inspired by Michael Hedges.

“The idea was to expand the musical vocabulary for the steel string acoustic guitar by employing percussive techniques, broader use of harmonics, unique tunings and better ways of amplifying the acoustic guitar to produce a richer, more layered, orchestral sound.” (MV)

In 2017, Vickness fully immersed himself within the recording process to churn out his geographical project, “Places.” It would become revered as a contemporary acoustic masterpiece. What makes this album so fantastic is that it is family-centered and rooted in nature. His wife, son and daughter all had a hand in creating this album which was recorded in places such as Thousand Islands, Bishop Pass (High Sierras), Wind River Range (Wyoming) and the cultural capital of the universe, New York City. It turned out to be quite an aural journey for the artist and listener as various textures were seamlessly threaded throughout.

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Vickness makes his living as an attorney in Oakland, California. On top of those 50 hours per week, he has two children, Glass House and individual musical output. Somehow, with all that he has to juggle, Vickness still manages to put forth quality tuneage time after time. His precise and exacting rhythms generate percussive emissions that are incredibly pleasing to the audience. The intricate style, evocative presentation and dynamic presence merge together flawlessly. His composed demeanor on the stage evokes solemnity, sympathetic resonance, fullness and depth. It is simply stunning the sounds that this man is able to create with his instrument.

Acoustic virtuoso

Ever since a friend introduced him to sitar at Clark University he has grown very fond of the musical style, Indian music and guitarists worldwide. Mark would go on to graduate from Clark University (Worcester, Mass) with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and also a Master’s Degree in Composition from California Institute of the Arts. His virtuosic renditions are reminiscent of the multi-layered ghost textures laid down by the Velvet Underground. The brilliance resides in the fact that the arrangements accomplished to create an atmosphere beyond traditional musical constructs.

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Vickness is a man of many talents and puts forth well-crafted songs that strive for fulfillment. His style pushes the envelope forward with various effects, looping, etc. His effort transcends and catapults his peers due to a highly-dedicated and often unheard acoustic fingerstyle that utilizes radiating chords and sonic textures to personify greatness. With a calming presence and a Zen-like countenance, Vickness is able to effectively blur the lines between acoustic and orchestral guitar playing. This maestro also delivers as a voice for the struggle and has been apart of instrumental film scores in his day. He hopes to gain more film scores (other than public health documentaries) in the future and will be dropping a solo album titled, “Interconnected” very soon.

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