How does a punk rock and roller from San Diego end up in Austin, TX carrying on the legacy of The Man In Black? From intervention of Cash himself, it would seem. Mark Stuart,born and bred in the California sun, always loved music and always made music despite coming from a non-musical family. The San Diego scene was full of Rock and Roll, Blues, Ska, Punk. He didn’t know at the time he would one day pen songs that would earn the recognition and support of arguably the greatest country songwriter/singer in history.
But destiny has a way of revealing itself. For Mark Stuart, it manifested in dreams where he was visited frequently by Johnny Cash singing to him, playing music, discussing life. Soon Stuart’s writing took on new colors and new shapes, and a stream of lyrical and insightful silhouetted country songs were born into a new band. The” Man” himself signed off his salute to the inspired name of Mark’s band, Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, and John Carter Cash produced a couple of cuts on the first album, “Walk Alone”.
In reality, Mark Stuart doesn’t sound anything like Johnny Cash, and he really doesn’t sound like anything else in country music. He’s managed to bring forth an integral sound that is his and his alone, merging Springsteen-like Americana with country twang. His songs can go from lyrical rebel rousers to leisurely strolls through heartache and redemption, while musically he allows for space to breathe in the quality instead of overpopulating it as many of his contemporaries do. The songs get inside your soul once you hear them, and become like a heartworn old friend. We’ve all been where he lives in his song “Night Comes Down”…
The ways of the heart, its a treacherous thing
It can make you cry, it can make you sing
The sea of love is dark and deep
Rough and hard or smooth and sweet
It can’t even move my feet
To take one step from these dead end streets
Night comes down, without you.
“The most important thing to me is that my music is honest. I try to write only what I feel and experience,” Stuart says, and that sentiment rings true on each of his recordings. It’s no surprise that his records have earned him critical acclaim across the board, and BSOJC has been in demand for live performances ever since their first studio effort. He relocated to Austin, TX to immerse himself in an environment that supported his newfound musical direction, and incorporated Texans into the most recent incarnation of the backup Bastards: Vance Hazzen on Bass, Lars Albrecht on guitar, and John Lewis on Drums.
With the passing of his Idol, he has commented lately that he will most likely retire the now infamous BSOJC name. Due to the rising amount of tribute bands and others trying to “cash” in on the name of the Man In Black, he’s concerned that what he stands for will get lost along the way. No matter what name he performs under, I don’t think that is likely to ever happen. The truth is, Stuart embodies the soulfulness of Mr. Cash in everything he does, and the best way for him to honor that is to continue making the kind of records that give every indication he will one day earn the title of Legend himself. Legitimately.
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