Theatrical multi-instrumentalist Mark Growden will appear on stage Friday at the Nevada Theatre during a special Paul Emery Presents performance.
Growden is a singer, writer, composer, record producer and visual artist known for his improvisational style, soulful voice and poetic lyrics. In his early years, some compared him to Tom Waits.
In addition to singing, Growden plays the accordion, claw hammer, banjo, struti box and even bicycle handlebars.
Born in western Lassen County, Growden now makes his home in San Francisco, New Orleans and New York. He will visit Nevada City as the final leg of a Pacific Northwest tour. Nevada City is a town he remembers from his youth when he came to visit his grandmother.
Growden makes a conscious effort to choose a theater atmosphere over a bar as the appropriate venue for his storytelling performances. Each show requires a certain quality of attention, presence and exchange with the audience, he said.
“My work is made with that in mind. The Nevada Theatre is perfect for what I do,” Growden added.
He has toured the U.S. extensively, composed original musical scores for a number of dance and theater companies and scored several films. He has been trained as an avant-garde saxophonist.
Growden began his musical career scoring instrumental pieces for dance and theater companies such as Joe Goode Performance Group and The Crucible. His work with Alonzo King’s LINES Contemporary Ballet won the Isadora Duncan Award for Best Original Score for a New Dance Piece.
“My job is to take traditions and turn them on their heads — to break the traditions and to innovate,” he said.
Growden’s album, “Saint Judas” was awarded the 2010 Rekkid of the Year by music blog Stash Dauber and ranked in the 2010 Village Voice Critics Poll.
At the Nevada City show, Growden will play from numerous bodies of work, including new and unreleased material from his 11th album still in the works. He will be joined by stand-up-bass player Daniel Fabricant and trumpet player Chris Grady. Both have regularly played with Tom Waits.
Growden’s style easily shifts depending on setting and company. He describes himself as a “moving target.”
“I don’t stick to one style,” he said.
His music is influenced by New Orleans jazz, Tucson “desert-y post-modern country western” and Bay Area contemporary art songs.
“What we’re going to do in Nevada City is a mix of all those things. It’s very dynamic,” he said.
Tickets for Friday’s show are $20 and can be purchased at the Nevada City Box Office at Miners Foundry Cultural Center, at BriarPatch Co-op or online at http://paulemerymusic.com.