"A Western poet and a passionate student of his craft. He truly is one of the finest country song writers the UK has to offer"
photo by Alex Amorós
photo by Alice Fruer Denham
photo by Alice Fruer-Denham
Mark J. Lee is a Westcountry born songwriter and performing musician steeped in traditional country and old time sensibilities. Resonant, raw tenor vocals over sparse, cinematic arrangements are the formula for his charmingly bleak 21st century frontier ballads.
Influenced as much by writers like Kurt Vonnegut and Ernest Hemingway as he is by Townes Van Zandt, Hank Williams and George Jones, Mark meshes traditional country forms with stark, outsider poetry into what he describes as 'Honky Tonk music for the end of the world'.
A dyed in the wool touring musician Mark J. Lee spent most of his 20s and early 30s travelling across the UK and Europe, fronting cult Country Alt. Rockers 'Howlin' Lord' or lending his guitar chops to Bristol area acts including Emily Breeze, Beth Rowley, Screamin' Miss Jackson's Big Band and a very loose collective of local country pickers known as the Rhine Valley Ramblers. These were busy years, with Mark also spending increasing amounts of time in the studio as a session player, singer and producer, including a collaboration with production duo 'The Insects' on the soundtrack for the BBC drama series, 'The Living & the Dead', hailed by the Guardian at the time as 'Our new National anthem'.
Around 2018 with a few long term projects winding up Mark moved to Cornwall to concentrate on a new batch of songs with a more personal and introspective approach than much of his previous work. Later that year he independently released 'Through the Pines, an EP of downbeat, slow burning, reverb laden original country music. Backed by rhythm section 'The Saddle Kings' featuring long time collaborator Mark Furnevall on Bass and drummer, Andy Watson. Maintaining a busy live schedule, Mark has performed with and without the Saddle Kings, sharing bills with folk, roots and country acts including Martha Tilston, Joshua Hedley, The Cactus Blossoms and Charlie Parr.
Never one to stay put, Mark opted to spend his last pre Brexit year living in a van, exploring the lesser travelled corners of Europe and Morocco, picking up solo gigs as he went, arriving back in the UK just in time to be locked down by a global pandemic. He now resides in Hastings where he has teamed up with Property of the Lost for the release of his latest single 'Vagabond Blood.’