Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mark Bingham

Mark Bingham
photo machine, late -70's

I like New Orleans. I like its music, its vibe, the ‘debris’ at Mother’s, the architecture, the crawfish, the Circle Bar and much of what comes out of Piety Street - Mark Bingham’s recording studio in the 9th Ward. If you want Pro-Tools or 2 inch analog, orchestra or solo, modern or vintage equipment, Piety's got it all, plus a squad of in-house talent that help make things sound like records used to, before they all got weedy and naff. Mark’s an accomplished arranger, producer, instrumentalist and writer whose resumé lists stints with The Screaming Gypsy Bandits, The Brain Sisters, The Social Climbers, the Glenn Branca Orchestra, Shannon MacNally and sessions with Natalie Merchant, Jon Cleary, Dr. John, Ed Sanders, Peter Stampfel, MX-80, Hal Willner, Wharton Tiers and the Nevilles to name but a diverse, yet glorious few. The studio’s seen Harry Connick Jr., Korn, Lennie Kravitz, Mudvayne, Ryan Adams, Robin Thicke, Bobby Charles and Ray Davies all pass through its doors in the last few years, though (unfortunately) not all at once.
Natalie Merchant, Mark Bingham
photo machine, 1988


The first time I met him was in Bloomington, Indiana when I flew there to see MX-80 Sound. He was the first person I ever saw drink carrot juice. There, he gave me a couple of albums he'd produced - Caroline Peyton, a sampler of Bloomington artists he'd produced, Bloomington 1 (BRBQ Records), a reel-to-reel quarter-track tape of the unreleased Chinaboise album, featuring MX-80's Rich Stim and Dave Mahoney and Andrea Ross (who went on to become Mrs. Stim and Angel Corpus Christi) and 3 albums' worth of tapes by his own band, The Screamin' Gypsy Bandits - a sort of Tubes-meets-Zappa psychedelic, funk-rock outfit (with marvelous horns) which occasionally featured Bruce Anderson and a terrific Dale Sopheia vocal on 'Foggy Windows' - both also members of MX-80. Tune into the station to hear the 'Bloomington Sound'.
Social Climbers
A. Leroy (Dick Connette)
, Jean Seaton Shaw, Mark Bingham
Gulcher Records' publicity photo

From Bloomington, Mark moved to New York where partnered with Philip Glass in a downtown loft studio, near the Mudd Club, calling it The Living Room. During an early visit, I was impressed to see Mark actually building the interior walls, hammer in hand.
In the late 80's, I went slightly off the rails and Mark sent me a letter that cut clean to the quick. It told me to shape up and get it together or I'd lose him as a friend. It seems m
y vices were getting the better of me. He shocked me back to reality. I was grateful for the warning.
Eddie Murphy, Mark Bingham
photo: Patti Perret


Mark always sent copies of what he was working on and I have a ton of tapes containing his own music that regularly gets featured on the station. Now, much of it has been collected onto several cds which will, hopefully, see a release someday. As a rapacious consumer of all sorts of interesting music, he turned me on to Xenakis, Bonerama, Kurt Weill, Morning 40 Federation, Brother Tyrone, Rudy Ray Moore and he introduced me to the considerable delights of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Mother’s Restaurant, the incredible brass bands and fabulously greasy menu at Donna’s Bar & Grill, Ernie K-Doe’s Mother-In-Law Lounge and all sorts of wild hangouts in New Orleans.
Mark Bingham, John Sinclair
New Orleans
photo: Patti Perret

Mark Bingham
New Orleans

photo: ht

3 comments:

mxrich said...

wait ... how come you didn't mention Mark's brilliant performance art ... like when he got in a cage (with the label "homo sapien") on the main street of Bloomingon. And what about Janus, the two-headed singer-performer ... yeah, from one humanist to another, g'bless ya Mark!

Lauren Busch Singer said...

hey Mark! Just wanted to tell you to check out www.funkykidzmusic.com. Tracey Freeman helped me produce this cool compilation featuring the likes of Bonerama, The Radiators, Papa Grows Funk, George Porter Jr., and more, doing funked up covers of classic kids songs we all know and love (zip a dee doo dah, yellow submarine, etc.). Think you'll really dig it...perfect for the kid in all of us!

ht said...

hi Rich...you're next! - ht

hi Lauren...thanks for checking in. I'll tell MB - ht